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A Brief look into the History of Cyprus

A Brief look into the History of Cyprus

Although Cyprus is a small island in the Mediterranean Sea, it is steeped in history. Civilization has existed on the island since 4,000BC and Cyprus was ravished by invasions and conquered by different civilizations over the years. Even to this day Cyprus has to deal with the Turkish capture of the north of the island which is still under Turkish occupation.

  • Excavations in Cyprus prove that there was Neolithic civilization as early as 4,000BC
  • Cyprus was famous for its copper and from 2,200 BC,  bronze from the island was used throughout the Aegean
  • In 560BC Cyprus was conquered by Egypt
  • Following conquerors of Cyprus were Persia, Alexander the Great, Egypt again, Rome and the Byzantine Empire
  • Christian history started after the apostle Paul visited Cyprus in 632
  • In 1191 Richard the Lionheart conquered Cyprus and sold the island to the ruler of Jerusalem to pay off debts
  • Cyprus fell to the Turks in 1571 and was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878
  • Cyprus was annexed to the British crown by the Turks  and it was declared a colony and governed by Britain from 1925
  • In 1955 the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters started the struggle for Cyprus’ independence from Britain
  • In 1960 Cyprus became independent from the British
  • Britain retains two sovereign bases on Cypriot soil
  • Clashes between Greek and Turkish Cypriots erupted in 1967
  • UN peacekeeping forces were employed to keep the peace
  • July 1974 National Guard coup topples Makarios government
  • 20th July 1974 Turkey invades Cyprus resulting in thousands of deaths
  • Turkey did not withdraw their forces and a full scale Turkish offensive began at the beginning of August resulting in hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing their homes.
  • This invasion resulted in thousands of people missing of which some have not been found to this day.
  • A UN Security Council ceasefire resolution led to the establishment of the Green Line which still separates the two communities to this day
  • Turkish forces still control 38% or the island
  • Archbishop Makarios returns to Cyprus in mid-August of 1974
  • On the 13th February 1975 the Turkish held area proclaims itself the Turkish Cypriot Federated State, which was proclaimed illegal and to this day  is only recognized as a state by Turkey
  • The Greek Cypriot South is officially recognized worldwide as the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey is the only country in the world who does not acknowledge this fact.
  • On the 15th November 1983 the Turkish North proclaimed itself an independent state and became known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This state is still only recognized by Turkey
  • Numerous efforts have been made over the years to find a solution that would once again unify the island without any success and the status quo remains the same to this day.
  • Cyprus becomes a member of the European Union on the 1st May 2004 and officially adopts the Euro currency
  • 16th March 2003 sees Cyprus close its banks in a desperate attempt to avert a run on deposits.
  • A bail out agreement is reached with the 17 Eurozone states and the Monetary Fund to avert the collapse of the Cypriot economy.
  • Forced loses on bank accounts with over a specified amount in deposits is enforced in order to be able to collect the funds needed to qualify for the bailout
  • 2003 – 2010 Cyprus goes into a slump economically and austerity measures are enforced
  • Cyprus has slowly but surely emerged from the economic crisis and economic growth is back on the rise

Many volumes can be written about the history of Cyprus, and few can claim to have such a rich and diverse history. We have only listed the main facts in brief for those who are interested in knowing more about Cyprus

On the lighter side, Cyprus also has a colourful history as well

  • It is said that Leonardo Da Vinci visited Lefkara Village, which is world renowned for its handmade lace, and bought a tablecloth for the main alter of the Duomo di Milano
  • In ancient times Nicosia was known as Ledra. This was during the first Millennium BC.
  • Nicosia is the only divided capital in the world
  • Nicosia is the only part of Cyprus that has been inhabited since the Bronze Age
  • The English crusader King Richard the Lionheart married Queen Joanna at Limassol castle in 1191
  • The last monarch of Cyprus was Queen Catherine Cornaro who abducted in 1489
  • The oldest perfume in the world was discovered during archeological works in Pyrgos
  • Cyprus produced the oldest wine in the world, the dessert wine, Commandaria which is still produced to this day
  • Cyprus’ famous halloumi cheese dates back to the Medieval Byzantine period

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