Cyprus is the third biggest island in the Mediterranean. The two biggest (Sicily and Sardinia) are part of Italy. The Republic of Cyprus occupies the southern part of the island, with the northern bit disputed with Turkey (recognised by Turkey as an independent state). The other island nation in the Med is Malta. Cyprus came under British Administration in 1878. The Sultan ceded the island to Britain to use as a base to protect the Ottoman Empire from Russian aggression. When alliances changed, the island was formally annexed in 1914. In the 1950s there were claims on Cyprus from both Turkey and Greece. Independence was granted in 1960. Law can mean reality, but not always. Although the Republic has de jure (in law) sovereignty over the island, it is de facto (in fact) in three parts - 59% Republic, 36% Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and 4% UN buffer zone. Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004. Turkey started accession negotiations with the EU in 2005.