History of Cyprus
When you come to Cyprus, you follow in the footsteps of historical giants from
Alexander the Great to Cleopatra to the apostles of Christ. At all the duration of history the important leaders have exploited the strategic place of island, in the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, in the forging and the defence of their empires.
Cyprus knew the periods of uproar it came under Assyrian, Egyptian, Roman, Islamic, crusader, Byzantine, Ottoman sovereignty, but the residents they remained always exceptional Cypriot. It was to the end of age of copper that Mycenaean Achaeans came in Cyprus that establishes the roots of Greek culture of now more than 3.000 years.
The copper they were the boiling hot products of age and the commercial connections they were established with Egypt and the Aegean’s islands. The view Aphrodite of love had an increasing adoration of partisans. A sense of cohesion with the history is the most distinct signature of Cyprus, from the causing destructions of temples that they naturally combine with the landscape in the simultaneously arts and the festivals that take their inspiration from the antiquity.
History at a Glance
8200-3900 BC: Neolithic Age
The earliest settlers known to have lived in Cyprus
arrived around 10,000 years ago, as confirmed by
remnants dated by archeologists. Civilizations develop
along the north and south coasts. In the beginning the
Neolithic people themed only stone tools. Pottery
appears only after 5,000 BC.
3900-2500 BC: Chalcolithic Age
In this transitional age between the Stone Age and
Bronze Age, copper is first discovered in Cyprus. A cult
of fertility develops in the settlements of the period,
found mainly in the western part of the island.
2500-1050 BC: Bronze Age
In this period the copper resources of the island are truly exploited and trade
develops with the Middle East, Egypt and the islands of the Aegean Sea, where
Cyprus is known as "Alasia." After 1400 BC, Mycenaeans from Greece come to
Cyprus to trade. Later, during the 12th and 11th centuries, large waves of Achaean
Greeks settle on the island and Greek language, customs and religious beliefs 16 become widespread as a consequence. These Greeks establish the city-kingdoms of Pafos, Salamis, Kition, Kourion and others.
1050-750 BC: Geometric Period
The Hellenization of the island is complete, and Cyprus now has ten Greek city-
kingdoms. Phoenicians from Tyre, already expert seamen and merchants, settle
at Kition. Great prosperity comes with the 8th century BC. The
cult of Aphrodite flourishes.
750-325 BC: Archaic and Classical Period
While prosperous times continue, there are several foreign
incursions. Assyrians make inroads on the island,
overthrowing at least seven Cypriot kingdoms as they do. Then
come the Egyptians. The reign of Pharaoh Ahmose II (569-525
BC) is peaceful but soon Cyprus is entangled in the tensions
between Greece and Persia. King Evagoras of Salamis, ruling
from 411-374 BC, unifies Cyprus and makes it one of the leading
political and cultural centres of the ancient Greek world.
333-325 BC: Rule of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia
All of Cyprus welcomes Alexander the Great as the island
becomes part of his empire. Cyprus shipbuilding expertiseis vital in readying Alexander's fleet for conquests in the Near
325-58 BC: Hellenistic Period
Following the death of Alexander the Great, his generals vie for
succession and Cyprus eventually becomes a province of the
Hellenistic state of the Ptolemies of Egypt; for the next two
centuries it belongs to the Greek Alexandrine world. The Ptolemies abolish the
separate city-kingdoms and unify the island, with the capital at Pafos. The Tombs
of the Kings here date from this time. During this period the Cypriot philosopher
Zenon, from Kition (near present-day Larnaka), founds his famous Stoic School
58 BC-330 AD: Roman Period
Cyprus becomes a province of the Roman Empire.
In 45 AD, St. Paul and St. Barnabas visit Pafos, and
when the former converts the Roman proconsul
there, Sergius Paulus, to Christianity. He is the first
official to accept the new religion. Cyprus becomes
the first country to be governed by a Christian. In the first century BC and first
century AD there are destructive earthquakes but cities are rebuilt. In 313 the
Edict of Milan grants freedom of worship to Christians. In 325, Cypriot bishops
attend the Council of Nicaea.
330-1191 AD: Byzantine Period
With the division of the Roman Empire, Cyprus
becomes part of its eastern section, or Byzantium, with
its capital at Constantinople. Empress Helena visits
Cyprus with pieces of the holy cross and founds three
monasteries. The Gospel of St. Mark is found in the
tomb of St. Barnabas and Emperor Zeno makes the
Church of Cyprus autonomous. In 647 Arabs invade,
and over the next three centuries the island is routinely pillaged. At the time of
the Arabs' expulsion in 965 by the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas II, many cities
are depopulated and lay in ruins.
1191-1192: Richard the Lionheart and the Templars
In 1191 Richard the Lionheart, on his way to the Third
Crusade, falls victim to a shipwreck and comes ashore to
Cyprus. Treated rudely by Isaac Comnenus, Richard
vanquishes the self-styled emperor of Cyprus, takes
possession of the island and marries Berengaria of Navarre in
Lemesos Castle, where she is proclaimed Queen of England.
But the very next year he sells the island to the Knights
Templar. They resell it to Guy de Lusignan, the deposed King
1192-1489: Frankish (Lusignan) Period
The feudal system takes root and the Catholic Church officially replaces but does
not displace the Greek Orthodox Church. Lefkosia, Ammochostos and Lemesos
are referred to by the Lusignans as Nicosia, Famagusta and Limassol,
respectively. Ammochostos becomes one of the richest cities of the Levant. In
1489 Caterina Cornaro, the last Lusignan queen, cedes Cyprus to the Republic of
1489-1571: Venetian Period
Viewed as a last bastion against Ottoman advances in
the eastern Mediterranean, the Venetians fortify
Cyprus and reduce the boundaries of Lefkosia to that
portion of the city within its fortified walls. They also
construct impressive walls around Ammochostos.
While Venice is at the peak of its powers, Cypriots
suffer under disease and extortionate taxes. An insurrection in 1546 is easily
crushed. Legend says the Ottoman Sultan Selim II, tasting a sweet Cyprus wine,
enjoyed it so much that he ordered an invasion in 1570.
1571-1878: Ottoman Period
The Sultan's troops attack Cyprus, slaughtering 20,000 people and laying siege to
Ammochostos. Marc Antonio Bragadino struggles to defend the city but cannot;
Ottoman commander Lala Mustafa's orders to murder the valiant Venetian by
torturing and skinning him alive galvanize the European powers, who under the
command of Don Juan of Austria deal Turkish naval power a major blow at the
Battle of Lepanto. The Ottomans restore the Orthodox church, but this tolerance
exacts a high price from Cypriots in the form of heavy taxes and social pressures.
1878-1960: British Period
In 1878 Great Britain assumes administration of Cyprus, formally annexing the
island in 1914 when Turkey enters World War I on the side of Germany. With the
Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, Turkey relinquishes its claim to Cyprus and two
years later it becomes a British Crown Colony. In 1940, Cypriot volunteers serve
in the British Armed Forces. From 1955-1959, with peaceful means of negotiating
independence exhathemted, a five-year national struggle for liberation from
colonial rule and union with Greece ensues.
1960: Republic of Cyprus
In 1960, with the signing of the Zurich-London Treaty, British
rule ends and the Republic of Cyprus is declared. Archbishop
Makarios III is the fledging republic's first president. According
to the treaty Britain retains two Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) at
Dekeleia and Akrotiri, comprising a total of 99 square miles, and
Greece, Turkey and Britain are the guarantor powers. The
Constitution soon proves unworkable. Constitutional
amendments proposed in 1963 lead to rebellion from the
Turkish Cypriot community, and Turkey threatens to invade.
In July 1974 a military junta ruling Greece instigates a coup against the Cyprus
government and with that as a pretext Turkey launches an invasion, ultimately
capturing the northern 37 percent of the island and violently displacing
thousands. Thousands of civilians are killed. Forty percent of the Greek Cypriot
population is uprooted, their homes and businesses seized. An estimated 35,000
Turkish troops remain illegally in occupied northern Cyprus, and a United
Nations-mandated peacekeeping force monitors an island-wide buffer zone, that
also runs through the centre of the capital, Lefkosia ( Nicosia ). The Turkish
military occupation continues despite universal condemnation and ongoing
negotiations and mediation efforts.
Cyprus in the New Millennium
An independent republic since 1960, Cyprus has a presidential system of
democratic government with free elections held every five years for President and
Members of Parliament. Despite ongoing talks, a solution to the "Cyprus
Problem" has yet to be found; however, there has been no violent conflict since
1974 and the country is among the most stable in the region. The Republic of
Cyprus is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the
Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement.
Culturally a Western nation, Cyprus has become a full member of the European
Union on May 1, 2004.