Cyprus is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, attracting over 2.4 million tourists per year. A former British colony, it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960 and became a Commonwealth republic in 1961. The Republic of Cyprus is a developed country and is a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004.
Cyprus strategic location of the island has played an important role in its development into a financial and tourist centre. With an area of 9251m², Cyprus is the largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia. The population of Cyprus (end of 2001 was 793.100) with 80% of the population being Greek Cypriots, 11% Turkish Cypriots, 8% Foreign residents and 1% other small minorities.