History of Cyprus

For the visitor to understand and fully appreciate the island's many historical sites a short introduction to 9,000 years of habitant is very beneficial.

The early settlers most probably came from the nearby Mediterranean countries clearly visible from Cyprus' shores.

The Early and Middle Bronze Ages (2300-1600 BC) saw the first real towns and commercial centers developing going through expansion and trade.

The next stage in development was the Iron Age.

The dawn of the classical period saw an attempt by the islanders to throw off the Persian rule, with the result that large areas in rebellion were defeated and only parts of the island were freed.

After Persian Rule came the Hellenistic Period.

The first Governor from Rome was Marcus Portius Catto who had the task of implementing the annexation of the island. He arrived in 58 BC and began almost four hundred years of the Roman period.

The split with the Roman Empire brought Cyprus under Byzantine rule with the capital city being Constantinople, and the eastern empire ruled from Alexandria. Guy de Lusignan bought the island and began a period of 300 years of French Rule.

Venetian Rule followed. However, all their efforts eventually proved in vain, when after almost eighty years, in which building work had been the main project, the Ottomans landed at Larnaca in 1570. The Ottomans invaded, led by Lala Mustafa Pasa, and put Nicosia under siege. The period of Ottoman rule began.

At the beginning of 19th century it was discovered there was works in secret with the connivance of the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus to drive all Turks out of Greece The British, worried that the Russians would pose a threat to the Suez Canal, were quite happy to accept the offer of governorship proposed by the Ottomans. In 1878 an agreement was reached and Cyprus came under British control

and occupancy. Enosis, union with Greece which would have taken place had Greece accepted the British offer in 1915; now become an issue of paramount importance to the local people.

EOKA was against continuing British rule, independence was granted to Cyprus in 1959.

In 1974 Turkish armed forces landed on the island and took over 40% of Cyprus. The country remains divided despite frequent attempts of reunification.

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Revised: 13-06-2006