Cyprus: History

A kaleidoscopic blend of cultures

Cyprus History

The beleaguered island of Cyprus has a rich history and during a turbulent past has been occupied by the Greek Mycenaean's, the Persians, the Hittites, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Ottoman Empire and of course the British. Its lure to such powerful empires over the centuries is due to its location in the eastern Mediterranean and was used as a port linking Europe with Asia.

Today, Cyprus is an independent state, though the British still have a military base there. The Greeks, Romans and Byzantine all contributed greatly to the history of Cyprus and the endearing cultures are still evident today. Cypriots ethnicities though still have their differences and it because of this the island is unique. Since the collapse of the Berlin wall in 1989, Cyprus has been the only country in the world that is divided with a frontier dividing the island into north and south. The problem stems back since before the Second World War when Cyprus was under British rule.The Greek majority wanted the island returned to Greece in honour of their Greek forefathers to which Britain eventually agreed on the understanding that Cyprus entered the war on the side of the allies. Cypriots duly obliged, but Britain reneged on their offer.

In 1955, a Cypriot Colonel who had fought on behalf of the allies in the Second World War launched a terrorist campaign against the British. The battle for Independence was subsequently won five years later. However, during the fighting the British had set up terror units manned by Turkish Cypriots. This was later to lead to animosity amongst the opposite ethnicities of the island and subsequently resulted in brutal killings. Greek Cypriots still wanted unification with Greece which led to the breakdown of relationships between the Greek and Turkish heads of state and ultimately flowed into the streets. Cypriots on both sides were savagely slaughtered and once more the island was turned into a bloodbath. It came to a head in 1974 when, in order to protect its people, the Turkish army invaded and declared northern Cyprus as a Turkish Republic. The buffer zone is known as the Green Line to Greek Cypriots and The Attila line to Turks.