As you can tell, we're a bit fascinated by history and the Mediterranean area is no exception. This is one of the reasons why we've stopped off in Cyprus as part of our World Trip:
The upper part of the map is populated by ethnic Turks (and land closest to Turkey); the lower part is ethnic Greek. It's not much in terms of size with only 1.1 million people for the whole island and only 2,276 square miles in size (a bit smaller than the Greater Toronto Area). But the history is very interesting with the Ottoman Empire collapsing in the 1800s and competing countries trying to take over. Then there's the religious part- Christians (Greek Orthodox) and Muslims- and how the people themselves view this small piece of land.
In an effort to stave off Russia taking control of the Ottoman lands, the rulers asked for help from the British. As part of the deal, Cyprus became part of the British Empire "to protect" the island, then as a Military British occupation from 1914–1925, and then a Crown colony from 1925–1960.
The problem? The Brits were there only for control. What followed over the next 50 years were government coups and attempts at independence. The Turk portion wanted their independence and the Greek part wanted theirs. NATO got involved in the 1960s- 1990s and put up a green zone to separate the two ethnic groups.
Today Cyprus is now a nation and part of the EU and physically partitioned into two main parts; the area under the effective control of the Republic, comprising about 60% of the island's area, and the north, administered by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey, covering about 40% of the island's area.
This might not mean much unless you fly in to the Turkish side- currency is Turkish Lira. Fly in to the Greek side and it's Euros. Try to cross the green line with a car rental and insurance is void. You have to walk across!
More to come...