Cyprus Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Cyprus is an independent nation in Western Asia. With the capital city of Nicosia, Cyprus 2020 population is estimated at 1,207,370 according to countryaah. With its location on the crossroads between Africa, Asia and Europe, Cyprus has throughout history exerted traction on merchants and conquerors from different angles.

Archaeologists have found that humans lived in Cyprus at least 10,000 years ago. Towards the end of the 11th century BC, the island was colonized by Mycenaean Greeks. Since copper was Cyprus’s most important export commodity, the word Cyprus in Greek came to mean both “Cyprus” and “copper”. The small city kingdoms that the Greeks founded were forced to pay tribute to the great powers that alternated the island during the following millennium: Phenicia, Assyria, Egypt, Persia and Macedonia. By 58 BC, Cyprus was under Roman rule, but the Cypriots continued to speak Greek.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Cyprus, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

During Roman times, peace prevailed in Cyprus. Christianity was introduced; the apostle Paul must have preached on the island just a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion. When the Roman Empire was divided in 395, Cyprus became a province of the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire. With the exception of periods of Arab invasions, Cyprus obeyed Östrom (Byzantium) until the end of the 12th century. For Cyprus political system, please check carswers.

Crusaders invade

The Western European powers had then begun to send crusaders to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims. During the third crusade, King of England Rickard Lionheart conquered Cyprus in 1191. He later surrendered the island to the Frankish Crusader Lusignan. During the Lusignan kingdom, feudal rule was introduced, which meant that the land was distributed to the people of the faithful king, vassals. The peasants were forced to work on the goods of the vassals. The rulers of the island wanted to incorporate Cyprus into the Roman Catholic world, but the peasantry maintained their Greek Orthodox faith. After Cyprus was weakened by war with Genoa and Egypt, the island was transferred to the Republic of Venice in 1489, which severely exploited its resources.

The Ottoman (Turkish) empire was at its peak during the 16th century. After bloody fighting – 20,000 of Nicosia’s residents were killed in a single day – in 1571, the Turks took over Cyprus. The island’s former foreign elite, the Catholics, were killed, driven out or forced to convert to either the Greek Orthodox faith or Islam.

Cyprus was incorporated into the Ottoman management system. In this, various religious groups formed closed units, millet, with their own laws and institutions. The religious heads of the groups had political and tax administrative responsibility for their people before the Sultan. The Greek Orthodox Archbishopric was therefore restored in 1575.

Rebellion against the Turks

Furthermore, feudalism was abolished and the peasants were given the right to own land and practice their religion by paying high taxes to the Turkish sultan. At the same time, around 30,000 soldiers in the Turkish invasion army received landfills in Cyprus. Thus, the foundations for the division of the population into two groups were laid: Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

In spite of the reforms, Cyprus was subject to malady and economic downturn. A couple of raids against the Turks during the 17th and 18th centuries failed. But the influence of the archbishops grew stronger, and when the Greeks in Greece, led by their priesthood, began a liberation war against the Turks in 1821, the Greek Cypriots were accused of secret conspiracies. It led to a massacre of Christian leaders and to the breaking of the world power of the archbishopric so as not to be seriously restored until after the Second World War.

At the Berlin Congress in 1878, the weakened Ottoman Empire handed over the administration of Cyprus to Britain, and in 1925 the island gained the status of a British crown colony.

Among the Greek Cypriots, a nationalism since the mid-19th century had grown strong with demands for enosis, that is, Cyprus would join Greece. This was opposed by the Turkish Cypriots. The British played the two peoples against each other, holding down all nationalism and making Cyprus one of its most heavily ruled colonies. Nevertheless, during World War II, the Allies (Britain and France and others) received the wholehearted support of the Cypriots, and Cyprus became an important base for the Allies’ air force. Political activities were allowed and several parties were formed.

Support for connection to Greece

In a 1950 referendum, 96 percent of Greek Cypriots voted for enosis. Cyprus Archbishop Makarios III was in charge of their political struggle, while the war-torn General Georgios Grivas started a guerrilla movement, Eoka, which from 1955 fought the British with terror.

Great Britain exiled Makarios. Resistance to the British intensified, and violence erupted between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The serious situation forced Greece and Turkey to compromise, with both countries advocating independent Cyprus. Makarios had then given up the requirement for connection to Greece. At a conference in London in 1959, the agreement was established, which then formed the basis for a Cypriot constitution. Makarios returned to Cyprus. In the first parliamentary elections in 1960, his supporters won 30 seats and the Communist Party Akel got 5 seats. Supporters of Turkish Cypriot leader Fazıl Küçük took the other 15 seats.



Christofias resigns as leader of Akel

The president resigns as party leader in order to devote all his power to the negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots.


Formal negotiations begin

Formal peace talks begin between the northern and southern parts of Cyprus for a reunification of the island.


“Cyprus is a unitary state”

Christofias and Talat enter into an agreement in principle that a solution to the Cyprus issue must mean that the country becomes a unified state, with common citizenship for all Cypriots.


The border crossing in Nicosia opens

The gate between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot parts of the city opens on Ledra Street. The transition has been closed since 1964 and the opening is seen as an important confidence-building measure before the new negotiations.


The presidents agree on new negotiations

21 March

The two presidents Christofias and Talat agree to begin formal negotiations on a reunification of Cyprus within three months.


New President

Sitting President Tassos Papadopoulos is eliminated in the first round of the Greek Cypriot presidential election. In the decisive election round, the Communist Party wins Akel’s candidate Dimitris Christofias by a good margin. He wants to see new reunification negotiations. Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat congratulates the victory.


Cyprus is changing currency

The country moves from the Cypriot pound to the euro.

Cyprus Old History