The Island of Cyprus has a long and varied history. Cyprus is known as Aphrodites Island which stands on the crossroads of three continents and nowadays is an attractive place for spending North Cyprus holidays. The first settlers are believed to have come to the island around 8500BC. The abundance of copper and timber on the island, combined with its position in the middle of the major trading routes made Cyprus a likely place to many foreign powers, included the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Ottomans. In 58 BC the Island of Cyprus was held by the Romans. Then Richard the Lion Heart conquered Cyprus in 1191 during the third crusade and went on to sell it to the Knights Templar permitted Guy de Lusignan to buy the island. Cyprus remained in Louisianan hands until it was captured by the Venetians in 1448. From the period 1571 to 1878 the island was ruled by the Ottomans until they leased its administration to Great Britain. Independence was granted in 1960, but after Greek Cypriots and Greek military coup in 1974, Turkey intervened to safeguard to the interest of the Turkish Cypriots and the Cyprus Island has been divided since.
Copper was more extensively exploited bringing wealth to Cyprus. Trade developed with the Near East, Egypt and the Aegean, where Cyprus was known as Alasia. During the 12th and 11th centuries mass waves of Achaean Greeks came to settle on the Cyprus Island spreading the Greek language, religion and customs. They gradually took control over Cyprus and establish in its history the first city-kingdoms in historical places of Paphos, Salamis, Kition and Kourion.
After the rivalries between Alexander’s generals, Cyprus eventually came under the Hellenistic state of the Ptolemies of Egypt, and from then onwards belonged to the Greek Alexandrine world. The Ptolemies abolished the city-kingdoms and unified Cyprus with Paphos as the capital city.
Cyprus came under the dominion of the Roman Empire. During the missionary journey of Saints Paul and Barnabas, the Proconsul Sergius Paulus was converted to Christianity and Cyprus became the first country in history to be governed by a Christian. Destructive earthquakes occurred during the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD and cities had to be rebuilt. In 313 historical epoch – making Edict of Milan grants freedom of worship to Christians.
After the division of the Roman Empire, Cyprus became a part of the Eastern Roman Empire, known as Byzantium with Constantinople as its capital. Christianity became the official religion. In 647 Arabs invade the island under Muawiya. For three centuries Cyprus was constantly under attack by Arabs and pirates until 965, when Emperor Nicephoros Phocas expeled Arabs from Cyprus.
Cyprus was ruled on the feudal system and the Catholic Church officially replaces the Greek Orthodox, which though under severe suppression manages to survive.
This period started in 1489 and lasted until 1571. Venetians view Cyprus as a last bastion against the Ottomans in the east Mediterranean and fortify the island, tearing down lovely buildings in Lefkosia to reduce the boundaries of the city within fortified walls. They also build impressive walls around Ammochostos which were considered at the time as works of art of military architecture in early modern period history.
In 1570 troops attacked Cyprus and they captured Nicosia. Ammochostos falls to the Ottoman commander Lala Mustafa, who at first allows the besieged a peaceful exodus, but later orders the flaying of Bragadin and puts all others to death. On annexation to the Ottoman Empire, the Latin leadership in Cyprus is expelled or converted to Islam and the Greek Orthodox Church restored.
Under the 1878 Cyprus Convention, Britain assumes administration of the island and the British Period in Cyprus history (1878-1960) began. Cyprus remained formally part of the Ottoman Empire until it entered the World War I. And on the side of Germany, then in 1925 Cyprus became a part of Britain colonies.
1914 - Britain annexed Cyprus in response to Turkey's alliance with Germany and Austro-Hungary in World War I.
1925 - Cyprus became a British Crown Colony. Sir Richmond Palmer was made governor.
1931 - Greek Cypriots demanding Enosis, the union with Greece, instigated their first serious riots. The government-house in Nicosia was burned down; martial law was declared afterwards and the legislative council was abolished. The Greek National Anthem and the display of the Greek flag were banned. The British invented the terms "Greek Cypriot" and "Turkish Cypriot" and used the latter against the "Greek Cypriots" so as to cease Enosis demands.
1939 - Greek Cypriots fought with the British in World War II, demanding Enosis at war's end. The Turkish Cypriots wanted British rule to continue.
1946 - The British Government began to imprison thousands of displaced Jews in camps on Cyprus.
1949 - The British Government finished imprisoning displaced Jews.
1950 - Archbishop Makarios III. was elected the political and spiritual leader of Cyprus, the head of the autocephalous Cypriot Orthodox Church and leader of the campaign for Enosis with the support of Greece.
1955 - A series of bomb attacks marked the start of a violent campaign for Enosis by the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) under George Grivas, an Cypriot ex-colonel in the Greek army. Grivas took the name Dighenis and conducted guerrilla warfare from a secret hideout in the Troodos Mountains. He is estimated to have had 300 men at maximum, yet successfully plagued 20,000 British troops and 4,500 police.
1956 - Britain deported Makarios to the Seychelles in an attempt to quell the revolt. Turkish Cypriots were used as auxiliaries of British Security Forces. Some Turkish Cypriots became informants for the British Colonists and became among the major targets of the EOKA.
1957 - Field Marshal Sir John Harding was replaced by the civilian governor Sir Hugh Foot in a conciliatory move.
1958 - Turkish Cypriots, alarmed by British conciliation, began demands for partition. There were inter-communal clashes and attacks on the British.
1960 - British occupation ended in Cyprus history.
The British, Greek and Turkish governments signed a Treaty of Guarantee to provide for an independent Cypriot state within the Commonwealth of Nations and allow for the retention of two Sovereign Base Areas at Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Under the treaty, each power received the right to take military action in the face of any threat to the constitution. Cyprus became independent of foreign rule. The Greek Cypriot Archbishop Makarios became the first president in history of independent Cyprus, with Turkish Cypriot Dr. Kutchuk his vice president. Both had the right of veto. Turkish Cypriots, who formed 18% of the population, were guaranteed the vice-presidency, three out of ten ministerial posts and 30% of jobs in the public service. They were further guaranteed 40% representation in the army and separate municipal services in the five major towns. Overall, a very complex constitution was drafted, which demanded a majority of votes overall as well as within each community for many decisions.
1963 - Greek Cypriots began to view the constitution as unworkable and proposed changes abolishing all veto rights and many ethnic clauses; these proposals were rejected by Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish government. Inter-communal fighting erupted. Tylliria was bombarded with napalm bombs. A UN Peace Keeping Force was sent in, but soon proved powerless to prevent incidents. Thousands of Turkish Cypriots retreated into enclaves where they were embargoed by the Greek Cypriots. The UN attempted to supply them with food and medicine.
1973 - The Turks emerged from their enclaves.
1974 - 15 July: The Greek military, with the support of the CIA and American national security advisor Henry Kissinger, ordered a coup to overthrow Makarios who they perceived to be too pro-Russian. Makarios was forced to flee to the British base. A puppet regime was imposed under Nikos Sampson, a former EOKA fighter and paid CIA operative. The coup was sponsored by the military dictatorship of Greece, which triggered the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and resulted in the partition of Cyprus and massive population transfers. The coup and subsequent events seriously undermined the enosis movement.
20 July: Turkey invaded North Cyprus and captured three percent of the island's territory around the town of Kyrenia, where they drove out the Greek Cypriot population.
23 July: The coup was put down and democracy and Makarios were restored.
14 August: After the breakdown of UN-led talks, the United Nations landed 40,000 troops on the coast of North Cyprus. 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled to the South, forcing resident Turkish Cypriots to leave their homes. Turkish forces were left in control of thirty-seven percent of the island. Facing threats from Turkey, the United Nations and the Cypriot government agreed to transfer the Turkish Cypriots living in the free areas to the occupied North Cyprus against their will.
1975 - Turks announced a Federate State in the North Cyprus, with Rauf Denktas as leader. UN Forces remained as buffer between the two zones.
1977 - Makarios died and was succeeded by Spyros Kyprianou.
1983 - The Turkish Federated State declared itself the independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), with Denktas as President. Republic of Northern Cyprus was not recognised by any country except Turkey and was officially boycotted.
1992 - UN sponsored talks began between the two sides.
1995 - The UN talks ran into the sand, but with a commitment to resume.
2001 - The European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of continuing human rights violations against the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
2003 - Cyprus was set to join the European Union in May 2004. Renewed negotiations about the status of the island took place.
The line which divided Cyprus into North Cyprus, where independent Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed by Turkish Cypriots, and the rest of Cyprus Island - The Republic of Cyprus, was partly opened. Thousands of Turkish and Greek Cypriots crossed the buffer zone to the "other side" after 30 years in its history.
2004 - 2004 Annan Plan Referendum: The Annan Plan was rejected by the majority of Greek Cypriots. The sovereign Republic of Cyprus joined the EU but the EU acquis was suspended in the occupied north.
In 1958 Greek Cypriot nationalist leader Archbishop Makarios began calling for Cypriot independence rather than union with Greece. Independence was granted in 1960. It was then when the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was established in North Cyprus in 1983 but to this day still has not achieved full international recognition. In 2002, intense dialogue between south and North Cyprus and helped ease the tension, and in 2003 Northern Cyprus border crossings with the south opened up, under more relaxed border entry rules. According to the Northern Cypriot administration, there are 90,000 Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey, 60,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the United Kingdom, 28,000 Turkish Cypriots living in Australia, 20,000 Turkish Cypriots living in North America.
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