He was an enthusiastic supporter of the union of Cyprus with Greece, an idea that was popular among the Greek-Cypriots but was bitterly opposed by the Turkish-Cypriots.But after he became the head of state he quickly moved to the political centre and abandoned the idea of a union with Greece.
In 1963 violence broke out between the two communities, which displaced more than 25,000 Turkish-Cypriots.
The tensions continued for a decade when a coup by Greek-Cypriot nationalists in 1974 precipitated an invasion of the island by Turkey.
Michael Christodoulou Mouskos, who became Archbishop aged 37 and assumed the title Archbishop Makarios III, became the first President of Cyprus in 1960.
He was not only became the official head of the Orthodox church of Cyprus but also the de facto head of the Greek-Cypriot community.
Aside from Turkey, no other nation acknowledges its existence.