Remains of the sanctuary and temple of Apollo Hylates at Kourion
, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Sovereign Base Areas were created in 1960 by the London and Zurich Agreements, when Cyprus achieved independence from the British Empire. The United Kingdom desired to retain sovereignty over these areas, as this guaranteed the use of UK military bases on Cyprus, including RAF Akrotiri, and a garrison of the British Army. The importance of the bases to the British is based on the strategic location of the island, at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, close to the Suez Canal and the Middle East; the ability to use the RAF base as staging post for military aircraft; and for training.
In July and August 1961, there was a series of bomb-attacks against the pipeline carrying fresh water to the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area The pipeline was breached by explosions twelve times.
In 1974, following a military coup by the Cypriot National Guard attempting to achieve enosis (union with Greece), Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus, leading to the establishment of the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This did not affect the status of the bases. Greek Cypriots fleeing from the Turkish forces were permitted to travel through the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area and were given humanitarian aid, with those from Achna setting up a new village (Dasaki Achnas or Achna Forest) which is still in the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area. The Turkish advance halted when it reached the edge of the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area to avoid military conflict with the United Kingdom. In the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area a tented refugee camp was set up at "Happy Valley" (part of the Episkopi Cantonment) to house Turkish Cypriots fleeing from Limassol and the villages surrounding the Area, until in 1975 they were flown out of RAF Akrotiri via Turkey to northern Cyprus. Some Greek Cypriot refugees remain housed on land in the parts of Trachoni and Kolossi villages that fall within the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area.