Cyprus History in Brief

Cyprus has had many names but most of scientists agree that the present name comes from the word "copper". An alternative theory supposes that 'Cyprus' comes from the Greek work 'kypros' which means "henna". Strategic location of the island between East and West resulted in repeated invasions of foreign nations and civilizations that have brought changes to the life and culture of the island's inhabitants. In Cyprus history the island was colonised by Phoenicians, Achaeans, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, and Greeks in different periods.

Cyprus History Milestones

Prehistoric and Ancient Periods in Cyprus History:

8500 B.C. - The beggining of Cyprus history when the first settlements are believed to exist on the island.
1600 B.C. - The island was populated by the Mycenaean civilization.
1500 B.C. - Thothmes III of Egypt invaded Cyprus.
1200-1100 B.C. - Massive arrival of the Mycenaean Greeks who brought to the island their language, culture, and advanced technology. Since then Cyprus has remained mainly Greek in culture, language and population.
16th century B.C. - Amasis of Egypt conquered Cyprus, which soon fell under the rule of the Persians. Cyprus became a part of the Persian Empire. The island was populated by the Greeks of Ionia (west coast of Anatolia) with whom the Greeks of Cyprus forged closer ties.
499 B.C. - The Ionian Greeks rebelled against the Persians but they were defeated by the latter.
356-323 B.C. - Alexander the Great liberated the island from Persia. Cyprus was later ruled by Egyptian leaders.
58-57 B.C. - Cyprus was annexed to Rome

Adoption of Christianity and Medieval Period in Cyprus History:

45 A.D. - Apostles Paul and Barnabas accompanied by St Mark arrived at Salamis and then proceeded to Paphos where they converted the Roman Governor Sergius Paulus to Christianity. Cyprus became the first country in the world to be governed by a Christian ruler.
395 - The Roman Empire partitioned, and Cyprus became part of the Byzantine Empire.
646-654 - Arabs invaded the island. Cyprus negotiated a relatively secure independence, but had to pay tribute to the Ummayads.
1191 - After the rule of an independent Emperor (Isaac Comnenus), Cyprus was captured by King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart) during the third Crusade to the Holy Land.
1192 - Guy of Lusignan purchased the island from Richard. The Lusignan dynasty ruled the island for the next 300 years.
1489 - After the death of the last Lusignan Queen Cyprus was abdicated to Venice.
1570 - The island was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The island's leading churchmen were executed; 20,000 Christians escaped from the island.


British Rule in Cyprus History:

1878 - The Cyprus Convention granted control of Cyprus to Britain in return for British support of the Ottoman Empire in the Russian-Turkish War. The island became a strategic naval outpost for the British Empire, strengthening its influence over the Eastern Mediterranean and Suez Canal.
1913 - Cyprus was formally annexed by the United Kingdom in the run-up to the First World War. Many Cypriots, now British subjects, fought in the Second World War.
1940-1950s - The Greek community held referenda in support of the union of the island with Greece.
1955-1959 - The Greek Cypriots founded EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters), a military resistance organisation that fought for the Enosis (the unification of Cyprus with Greece).

Independence and Breakdown in Cyprus History:

1960 - Cyprus gained independence from the UK. The Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities were given full participation in governing the new Republic. Greece, Turkey and the UK become guarantor powers of the republic under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. The first President was the Greek Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios III, and his Vice President was the leading Turkish Cypriot politician Dr Fazil Küçük.
1960s - Makarios and Küçük pursued a non-aligned foreign policy, cultivating good relations with the Britain, Greece and Turkey.
1963 - The government of Cyprus collapsed, result of the constant inability of the two communities to reach decisions. Occasional fighting broke out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Many Turkish Cypriots living in rural areas retreated for protection into armed enclaves.
1963-1974 - The Turkish Cypriot Enclaves were blockaded and embargoed by the Greek Cypriot authorities. There were numerous clashes between the two groups.
1974 - The Cypriot National Guard backed a military coup sponsored by Greece in Cyprus. The president of Cyprus Makarios was replaced by the EOKA member Nikos Giorgiades Sampson, and Bishop Gennadios as head of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. The aim of the coup was Enosis.
In response to the coup, Turkey sent troops to Cyprus, saying it was a necessary intervention to protect the Turkish Cypriot populace according to the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. The Turks subsequently gained control of 37% of the island's territory.
Over 200,000 Cypriots were uprooted, with Greek Cypriots forced to flee from the Turkish-controlled north and Turkish Cypriots displaced from the south.
1974 - Makarios returned to power accepting a bizonal federation as the form of a future state, but rejected any solution "involving transfer of populations and amounting to partition of Cyprus".
1975 - The Turkish Federated State of North Cyprus was declared with Rauf Denktas as leader (he was also the first president of the TRNC). UN Forces stayed as buffer between the two zones of the island. Turkish Cypriots wanted to unite with the south as part of a larger Federal Cyprus. The offer was rejected by the Republic of Cyprus, by the UN and by the international community.