15 August 2008

Cyprus: A brief history

History in Cyprus dates as far back as 7000 BC, the Neolithic Age, with settlements along the north and south coasts of the island.

After1400 BC, the first Greeks came to the island, Mycenaen merchants, who started the Hellenisation of the island.

By1050 BC Cyprus can be considered a Greek island, with the language, culture and religion of Greece well established. Cyprus has ten city-kingdoms and by 800 BC it is a flourishing and prosperous country.

From750 BC Cyprus is conquered several times by Assyria, Egypt and Persia. In 333 BC Alexander the Great claims Cyprus for part of his empire. Cyprus continues to be part of the Hellenist Empire until 58 BC.

In 58 BC Cyprus becomes part of the Roman Empire. Saint Paul is converted to Christianity whilst in Cyprus and Cyprus becomes the first country governed by a Christian.

After the division of the Roman Empire Cyprus becomes part of Byzantium, with Constantinople as its capital.
In1191 AD Cyprus is defeated by the crusader Richard the Lionheart. The island is then sold to the Knights Templar, who resell it to Guy de Lusignan. From 1192 to 1489 Cyprus is ruled under a feudal system and Catholicism becomes the official religion.
In1489 control of the island passes to the Venetians who takes steps to fortify the island and build walls around the towns of Nicosia and Famagusta.
In1571 Ottoman troops invades the island and Cyprus becomes part of the Ottoman Empire. Islam is introduced to the island and Catholicism is expelled. The Greek Orthodox religion is restored.

IN1878, under the Cyprus Convention, Britain assumes administration of the island although it remains part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1914 however, when the Ottomans entered the 1st World War on the side of the Germans, Britain annexed the island. In 1923 Turkey relinquishes all rights to Cyprus and in 1925 Cyprus is declared a Crown colony.
An armed struggle breaks out in 1955 against colonial rule, which lasts until 1960 when the island is granted independence.

In 1963 Turkish-Cypriot ministers withdraw from the Government in protest at proposed changes to the Constitution and Turkey threatens to invade.

In1974 the Greek junta instigates a coup in Cyprus against the Cypriot Government and Turkey uses that as an excuse and invades the island.


Cypriots are very proud of their cultural heritage, which stretches back more than 9000 years. Cyprus has many Traditions & Customs, Cypriot culture is reflected in the rich folk art of the island.

Age-old crafts, handed down from one generation to another, are faithfully carried on to this day by skilful hands and nimble fingers, fashioning handcrafts, both decorative and useful, that would grace any home. It is probably no surprise with a history so long, that Cyprus is remarkably rich in culture.

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