Cyprus, an island near Turkey and Syria of roughly 1.3 million inhabitants, finds itself on the cusp of momentous change. As it belatedly makes its grand debut on the world stage after domestic Greek-Turkish communal issues have consumed its first 51 years of independence, it faces both great opportunity and great danger.
That communal problem originated in 1570, when the Ottoman Empire conquered the island and its almost entirely Greek-speaking Orthodox Christian population. Over the next three centuries, immigration from Anatolia created a Turkish-speaking Muslim minority. British rule between 1878 and 1960 left this situation basically unchanged. In 1960, at the time of Cypriot independence, Turks constituted one-sixth of the population.