It is not possible to say when first inhabitants of Cyprus
lived, but it is believed possible that as long ago as 8.500
B.C. there were settlements on Cyprus.
Cyprus has had many names, but the name we use now is believed
to have come from the word copper of which there was, and
possibly still is, an abundance of on the island. An alternative
theory is that its name comes from the word Kypros
(the Greek for henna) of which there was also abundance. No
one knows for sure.
Cyprus has had a troubled history. The abundance of copper,
timber, and the strategic location between East and West resulted
in repeated invasions, changes of rulers, and strife for the
Before the annexation to Rome in 58 B.C. Phoenicians,
Archaeans, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians,
and Greeks colonized Cyprus.
In 43 A.D. Christianity came to Cyprus and in 330 A.D. Cyprus
became part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.
And so it remained until 1191 when Richard the Lionheart,
on his way to the Holy Land to fight the 3rd Crusade, conquered
the island. A year later Richard sold the island to the Knights
Templar for 100,000 Byzants. The Knights Templar, unable to
exploit the island satisfactorily, then returned the island
to Richard who sold it to the French nobleman Guy de Lusignan.
The Lusignan dynasty ruled the island for the next three hundred
years - a rule that was often oppressive, effectively reducing
Cypriots to serfdom.
In 1489 the Lusignan King James died leaving the Kingdom
to his Venetian wife who abdicated giving the island to Venice.
The Venetians saw Cyprus primarily as a military base and
built fortifications all over the island. Cypriots, at that
time, were seen merely as a populous to be taxed as much as
possible. In fact, it is said that Venetian rule was
so unpleasant that when the Ottomans arrived in Cyprus
in 1571 the locals felt as if they had been liberated from
The Ottomans abolished serfdom and instated the Orthodox
Church as the Church, of Cyprus. They also made being Catholic
a punishable offense, so Cypriots had to choose between Orthodox
Christianity and Islam. The majority chose Christianity, but
the result was that the population began to take on the ethnic
structure it still possesses today, namely Greek and Turkish.
The Ottoman Empire entering the First World War on the side
of Germany and emerged defeated, partly occupied by foreign
powers, and with harsh restrictions imposed, Cyprus became
a part of the British colonies, following the Treaty
of Lausanne in 1925.
In 1960 the Treaty of Zurich was signed to give independence
to Cyprus whilst protecting the rights of the Turkish Cypriot
population. The guarantors of this treaty were Britain, Greece,
In 1963 relations between the two communities separated by
language, culture and religion, had deteriorated. 13 articles
of the Constitution were attempted to be changed in favour
of Greek Cypriot community, also disarming Turkish Cypriot
Police and establishing the National Greek Cypriot Guards.
These measures were in clear contravention of the Treaty of
Zurich. Civil war began, and the United Nations sent
in troops in an attempt to restore peace, creating the Green
Line, which effectively divided the communities.
In 1974 Greece attempted a military coup in conjunction with
the Greek National Guard in a bid to achieve ENOSIS (Idea
of union with Greece).
On the 20th July 1974, Turkey, after consultation
with Britain, intervened military, namely Peace-Keeping
Action to protect the Turkish Cypriot community. This
was in exercise of the powers of guarantee agreed in the Treaty
Since this time the island has remained divided. On the 15th
November 1983 The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
was founded. It is a fully democratic state and with exception
of a few border incidents, internal peace has been established.
Read more about Cyprus History on Cyprus44