History of Cyprus
Cyprus, an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, at the cross-roads of three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa - has one of the oldest histories of the world, dating back 9000 years. Its strategic position, its wealth in forests and mineral deposits, as well as its skilled craftsmen, made it the prized possession of the powers of the day. Cultural influences came from all directions - all major regional civilisations left their mark on the island, contributing to the development of a very rich and diverse cultural heritage.
Cypriot culture is among the oldest in the Mediterranean. By 3700 BC, the island was well-inhabited, a crossroads between East and West. The island fell successively under Assyrian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Roman domination. For 800 years, beginning in AD 364, Cyprus was ruled by Byzantium. After brief possession by Richard the Lion-Hearted during the Crusades, the island came under Frankish control in the late 12th century. It was ceded to the Venetian Republic in 1489 and conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1571. The Ottomans applied the millet system to Cyprus, which allowed religious authorities to govern their own non-Muslim minorities. This system reinforced the position of the Orthodox Church and the cohesion of the ethnic Greek population. Most of the Turks who settled on the island during the 3 centuries of Ottoman rule remained when control of Cyprus--although not sovereignty--was ceded to Great Britain in 1878. Many, however, left for Turkey during the 1920s. The island was annexed formally by the U.K. in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I and became a crown colony in 1925.
Cyprus gained its independence from the U.K. in 1960, after an anti-British campaign by the Greek Cypriot EOKA (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters), a guerrilla group which desired political union with Greece, or enosis. Archbishop Makarios, a charismatic religious and political leader, was elected president.See more: Sights of Cyprus