The Republic of Cyprus gained independence from the UK on 16th August 1960. The constitution of the day involved a power sharing arrangement between the majority Greek Cypriots and minority Turkish Cypriots.
This arrangement was guaranteed by the UK, Greece and Turkey, but in 1964 it broke down as inter-communal conflict broke out. By 1974 an effective partition of the two communities was completed when Turkish armed forces took control of the northern part of Cyprus.
In 1983 that partition was completed when the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) proclaimed independence. In 2002 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan laid down a comprehensive settlement plan but after many rounds of negotiations an agreement could not be reached. Further efforts were made in 2004 and in the April simultaneous referenda took place in both parts of Cyprus. 75.8% of the Greek Cypriot community rejected the plan, whilst 64.9% of the Turkish Cypriot community voted in favour of reuniting the island.
As a result, on 1st May 2004 only the Greek controlled south of the island joined the European Union.
A United Nations Peacekeeping Force maintains a buffer zone between the two communities and in December 2003 the buffer zone was partly opened. Since partitioning, with the exception of a few incidents, there have been no outbreaks of violence.
In the second half of 2012 Cyprus will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Under the 1960 constitution the Republic of Cyprus has an executive President who is elected by popular vote for a five year term. The President appoints the Ministers for the eleven ministries from the House of Representatives.
The unicameral House of Representatives has 80 members elected for five year terms by proportional representation. Of those seats 56 are assigned to Greek Cypriots and the balancing 24 to the Turkish Cypriot community. Since 1964 the Turkish Cypriot community has refused to participate in these arrangements, instead having their own political structures (only the south is internationally recognised).
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Cyprus at joint 47th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 55 (where 100 is least corrupt).