An island republic in the eastern mediterranean sea. Its capital is nicosia. It was colonised by the phoenicians and ancient greeks and ruled successively by the assyrian, persian, ptolemaic, roman, and byzantine empires. It was under various countries from the 12th to the 20th century but became independent in 1960. The name comes from the greek kupros, probably representing the sumerian kabar or gabar, copper, famous in historic times for its copper mines. The cypress tree is also named after the island.