The island of Cyprus is located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey and southeast of Greece. As a result of different powers and leadership in the island’s history, the population of Cyprus is ethnically split into Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. An agreement between the Ottoman Empire and Great Britain at the end of the 19th century left the British in control of the island, and Cyprus was officially annexed as a British territory in 1914.
When talks of independence from Britain grew stronger in the 1950s, Greek and Turkish Cypriots disagreed on the island’s future. Greek Cypriots wanted to re-unify with Greece, while Turkish Cypriots wanted to divide the island and declare the northern section part of Turkey. Despite these arguments, the Greek, Turkish, and British governments developed an independence strategy and the Republic of Cyprus became an independent state in August 1960.
Three years of rising tensions and constitutional crises followed until representatives of Cyprus formally asked the United Nations (UN) for a peacekeeping force to observe a ceasefire and create buffer zones between the two sides. The UN agreed and Security Council Resolution 186 established the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) on 4 March 1964. The government of Canada agreed to provide military personnel in support of this mission a few days later, and the first Canadians were in Cyprus by the end of the month.
Canadian participation in UNFICYP was given the title Operation SNOWGOOSE in July 1974, but this name retroactively describes all Canadian support for this mission. Canada contributed significant military support from 1964 to 1993, and continues to send every year an officer to operational staff in the capital city, Nicosia. UNFICYP remains an ongoing operation.