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History of Cyprus
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History of Cyprus

This is the history of Cyprus. See also the history of Europe, history of present-day nations and states.


Table of contents
1 Prehistory
2 Ancient history
3 Roman occupation
4 Byzantine period and Arab Condominium
5 Crusades
6 Venice
7 Ottoman Empire
8 British rule and annexation
9 Literature



Cyprus was not settled in the
old stone age, which led to the survival of numerous dwarf forms, such as dwarf elephants (Elephas cypriotes) and pygmy hippos (Phanourios minutis) well into the Holocene. There are claims of an association of this fauna with artefacts of Epipalaeolithic foragers at Aetokremnos near Limassol on the southern coast of Cyprus. The first undisputed settlement occurred in the 9th (or perhaps 10th) millennium BC from the Levant (PPNB). The first settlers were already agriculturalists, but did not yet produce pottery (aceramic Neolithic). They introduced the dog, sheep, goats and maybe cattle and pigs as well as numerous wild animals like foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica) that were previously unknown on the island. The PPNB settlers built round houses with floors made of terrazzo of burned lime (e.g. Kastros, Shillourokambos, Tenta) and cultivated einkorn and emmer. Pig, sheep, goat and cattle were kept, but remained morphologically wild. Evidence for cattle (attested at Shillourokambos) is rare and when they apparently died out in the course of the 8th millennium they were not introduced until the early Bronze Age.

In the 6th millennium BC, the aceramic Khirokitia culture (Neolithic I) was characterised by round houses (tholoi), stone vessels and an economy based on sheep, goats and pigs. Cattle were unknown, and Persian fallow deer were hunted. The houses had a foundation of river pebbles, the remainder of the building was constructed in mudbrick. Sometimes several round houses were joined together to form a kind of compound. Some of these houses reach a diameter of up to 10 m. Inhumation burials are located inside the houses. The following ceramic Sotira phase (Neolithic II) has monochrome vessels with combed decoration. The sub-rectangular houses had two or three rooms. In Khirokitia, the remains of the Sotira phase overlay the aceramic remains. There are Sotira-ceramics in the earliest levels of Erimi as well. In the North of the island, the ceramic levels of Troulli maybe synchronous with Sotira in the South.

The Late Neolithic is characterised by a red-on white ware. The late neolithic settlement of Kalavassos-Pamboules has sunken houses.

The Eneolithic or Chalcolithic period is divided into the Erimi (Chalcolithic I) and Ambelikou/Ayios Georghios (Chalcolithic II) phases. The type-site of the Eneolithic I period is Erimi on the South coast of the island. The ceramic is characterised by red-on white pottery with linear and floral designs. Stone (steatite) and clay figurines with spread arms are common. In Erimi, a copper chisel has been found, this is the oldest copper find in Cyprus so far. Otherwise, copper is still rare.

Bronze Age

In the Bronze Age the first cities, like Enkomi, were built. Systematic copper mining began, and this resource was widely traded. The early Cypriot period is synchronous with the end of the EBA in Tarsus (Cilicia) ca. 2.600 BC cal.

The early Bronze Age (Early Cypriote) was a period of Anatolian influence. The most important site is the necropolis of Vounos on the North coast.

The Cypriot syllabic script was first used in early phases of the late Bronze age (LCIB) and continued in use for ca. 500 years into the LC IIIB, maybe up to the second half of the eleventh century BC. Most scholars believe it was used for a native, non-Greek Cypriot language (Eteocypriot) that survived until the 4th century BC, but the actual proofs for this are scant, as the tablets still have not been completely deciphered.

Late Bronze Age horned altar at Pigadhes, TRNC

The Late Cypriot (LC) IIC (1300-1200 BC) was a time of local prosperity. Cities were rebuilt on a rectangular grid plan, like Enkomi, where the town gates now correspond to the grid axes and numerous grand buildings front the street system or newly founded. Great official buildings constructed from ashlar-masonry point to increased social hierarchisation and control. Some of these buildings contain facilities for processing and storing olive oil, like at Maroni-Vournes and building X at Kalavassos-Ayios Dhimitrios. Other ashlar-buildings are known from Palaeokastro. A Sanctuary with a horned altar constructed from ashlar-masonry has been found at Myrtou-Pigadhes, other temples have been located at Enkomi, Kition and Kouklia (Palaepaphos). Both the regular layout of the cities and the new masonry techniques find their closest parallels in Syria, especially in Ras-Shamra (Ugarit). Rectangular corbelled tombs point to close contacts with Syria and Palestine as well. The practice of writing spread, and tablets in the Cypriote syllabic script have been found on the mainland as well (Ras Shamra). Ugaritic texts from Ras Shamra and Enkomi mention Ya, the Assyrian name of Cyprus, that thus seems to have been in use already in the late Bronze Age.

Oxhide-shaped copper ingots from shipwrecks like Ulu Burun, Iria and Cape Gelidonya attest to the widespread metal trade. Weights in the shape of animals found in Enkomi and Kalavasos follow the Syro-Palestinian, Mesopotamian, Hittite and Aegean standarts and thus attest to the wide ranging trade as well.

Some authors believe that late Bronze age Cyprus was a part of the Hittite Empire under the name of Alasiya, but up to now, no written confirmation of this has been found, and Anatolian and Hittite finds are extremely rare at this period. Some towns (Enkomi, Kition, Palaeokastro and Sinda) show traces of destruction at the end of LC IIC. If this is really an indication of a Mycenean invasion has recently come under considerable doubt. Originally, two waves of destruction, ca. 1230 BC by the Sea-People and 1190 BC by Aegean refugees, or 1190 and 1179 according to Paul Aström had been proposed. Some smaller settlements (Ayios Dhimitrios and Kokkinokremnos) were abandoned but do not show traces of destruction.

In the later phase of the late Bronze Age (LCIIIA, 1200-1100 BC) great amounts of "Mycenaean" IIIC:1b pottery were produced locally. New architectural features include Cyclopean walls, found on the Greek mainland as well and a certain type of rectangular stepped capitals, endemic on Cyprus. Chamber tombs are given up in favour of shaft graves. Many scholars therefore believed that Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks by the end of the Bronze Age. But this view has increasingly been criticised in recent years, as there is no distinct break in most areas of material culture between the LCIIC (1400-1200 BC) and LCIII. Large amounts of IIIC:1b pottery are found in Palestine during this period as well. While this was formerly interpreted as evidence of an invasion ("Sea Peoples"), this is seen more and more as an indigenous development, triggered by increasing trade relations with Cyprus and Crete. There are finds that show close connections to Egypt as well. In Hala Sultan Tekke Egyptian pottery has been found, among them wine jugs bearing the cartouche of Seti I and fish bones of the Nile perch.

Another Greek invasion was believed to have taken place in the following century (LCIIIB, 1100-1050), indicated, among other things, by a new type of graves (long dromoi) and Mycenean influences in pottery decoration.

Most authors claim that the Cypriot city kingdoms, first described in written sources in the 8th century BC were already founded in the 11th century BC. Other scholars see a slow process of increasing social complexity between the 12th and the 8th centuries, based on a network of chiefdoms. In the 8th century (geometric period) the number of settlements increases sharply and monumental tombs, like the 'Royal' tombs of Salamis appear for the first time. This could be a better indication for the appearance of the Cypriot kingdoms.

Iron Age

The Iron Age follows the Submycenean period (1125-1050 BC) or Late Bronze age and is divided into the: Foundations myths documented by classical authors connect the foundation of numerous Cypriot towns with immigrant Greek heroes in the wake of the Trojan war. For example, Teucer, brother of Aias was supposed to have founded Salamis, and the Arcadian Agapenor of Tegea to have replaced the native ruler Kinyras and to have founded Paphos. Some scholars see this a memory of a Greek colonisation already in the 11th century. In the 11th century tomb 49 from Palaepaphos-Skales three bronze obeloi with inscriptions in Cypriot syllabic script have been found, one of which bears the name of Opheltas. This is first indication of the use of Greek language on the island.

Cremation as a burial rite is seen as a Greek introduction as well. The first cremation burial in Bronze vessels has been found at Kourion-Kaloriziki, tomb 40, dated to the first half of the 11th century (LCIIIB). The shaft grave contained two bronze rod tripod stands, the remains of a shield and a golden sceptre as well. Formerly seen as the Royal grave of first Argive founders of Kourion, it is now interpreted as the tomb of a native Cypriote or a Phoenician prince. The cloisonné enamelling of the sceptre head with the two falcons surmounting it has no parallels in the Aegean, but shows a strong Egyptian influence. The evidence for Greek settlement is thus not very strong, but many Greek Cypriot archaeologists have consistently downplayed the "oriental" influence.

In the 8th century, numerous Phoenician colonies were founded, like Kart-Hadasht ('New Town'), present day Larnaca and Salamis. The oldest cemetery of Salamis has indeed produced children's burials in Canaanite jars, clear indication of Phoenician presence already in the LCIIIB (11th century). Similar jar burials have been found in cemeteries in Kourion-Kaloriziki and Palaepaphos-Skales near Kouklia. In Skales, many Levantine imports and Cypriote imitations of Levantine forms have been found and point to a Phoenician expansion even before the end of the 11th century.

Ancient history

The first written source shows Cyprus under Assyrian rule. A stela found 1845 in Kition commemorates the victory of king Sargon II (721-705 BC) in 709 over the seven kings in the land of Ia', in the district of Iadnana or Atnana. The former is supposedly the Assyrian name of the island, while some authors take the latter to mean Greece (the Islands of the Danaoi). There are other inscriptions referring to Ia' in Sargon's palace at Khorsabad. The ten kingdoms listed by an inscription of Esarhaddon in 673/2 BC have been identified as Salamis, Kition, Amathous, Kourion, Paphos and Soli on the coast and Tamassos, Ledrai, Idalion and Chytroi in the interiour.

Cyprus gained independence for some time around 669 but was conquered by Egypt under Amasis (570-526/525). The island was conquered by the Persians around 545 BC. A Persian palace has been excavated in the territory of Marion on the North coast near Soli. The inhabitants took part in the Ionian rising. At the beginning of the 4th century BC, Euagoras I, King of Salamis, took control of the whole island and tried to gain independence from Persia. Another uprising took place in 350 but was crushed by Artaxerxes in 344.

During the siege of Tyre, the Cypriot Kings went over to Alexander the Great. In 321 four Cypriot kings sided with Ptolemy I Soter and defended the island against Antigonos. Ptolemy lost Cyprus to Demetrios Poliorketes in 306 and 294 BC, but after that it remained under Ptolemaic rule till 58 BC. It was ruled by a governor from Egypt and sometimes formed a minor Ptolemaic kingdom during the power-struggles of the 2nd and 1st centuries. Strong commercial relationships with Athens and Alexandria, two of the most important commercial centres of antiquity, developed.

Full Hellenisation only took place under Ptolemaic rule. Phoenician and native Cypriot traits disappeared, together with the old Cypriot syllabic script. A number of cities were founded during this time, e.g. Arsinoe that was founded between old and new Paphos by Ptolemy II.

Roman occupation

Cyprus became a Roman province in 58 BC, according to Strabo because Publius Claudius Pulcher held a grudge against Ptolemy and sent Marcus Cato to conquer the island after he had become tribune. Marc Anthony gave the island to Cleopatra VII of Egypt and her sister Arsinoe, but it became a Roman province again after his defeat at the Battle of Actium (31 BC) in 30 BC. Since 22 BC it was a senatorial province, after the reforms of Diocletian it was placed under the Consularis Oriens. The island suffered great losses in the Jewish rising of AD 115/116. Several earthquakes led to the destruction of Salamis at the beginning of the 4th century, at the same time drought and famine hit the island.

Christianisation: The apostle Paul is reported to have converted the people of Cyprus to Christianity. The Levit Barnabas, a Cypriot, travels to Cyprus and Anatolia with Paul (Apg. 12, 13). The church of Cyprus achieved its independence from the Patriarch of Antioch at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

Byzantine period and Arab Condominium

After the division of the Roman Empire into an eastern half and a western half, Cyprus came under the rule of Byzantium. At that time, its bishop, while still subject to the Church, was made autocephalous by the Council of Ephesus.

When the Arabs invaded Cyprus in 688, the emperor Justinian II and the caliph Abd al-Malik reached an unprecedented agreement. For the next 300 years, Cyprus was ruled jointly by both the Arabs and the Byzantines as a condominium, despite the nearly constant warfare between the two parties on the mainland.

This period lasted until the year 965, when a resurgent Byzantium conquered the island. In 1185, the last Byzantine governor of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus of Cyprus from a minor line of the Imperial house, rose in rebellion and attempted to seize the throne. His attempted coup was unsuccessful, but Comnenos was able to retain control of the island.

Byzantine actions against Comnenos failed because he enjoyed the support of William II of Sicily. The Emperor had an agreed with the sultan of Egypt to close Cypriot harbours to the Crusaders. Isaac Comnenos was displaced by Richard I Plantagenet in 1192 and kept prisoner till his death in 1194 or 1195.


In the 12th century A.D. the island became a target of the crusaders. Richard the Lionhearted landed in Limassol on the 1st of June 1191 in search of his sister and his bride Berengaria, whose ship had become separated from the fleet in a storm. Richard married Berengaria in Limassol on the 12th of May 1192. She was crowned as Queen of England by John Fitzluke, Bishop of Evreux. The crusader fleet continued to St. Jean d'Acre (Syria) on the 5th of June. The army of Richard the Lionhearted continued to occupy Cyprus and raised taxes. He sold the island to the Knights Templar, before they moved to Rhodes and finally to Malta. Soon after that, the Franks (Lusignans) occupied the island, establishing the Kingdom of Cyprus. The relationship between the Cypriots and the Franks was never harmonious. They declared Latin the official language, later replacing it with French; much later, Greek was recognised as a second official language. In 1196, the Latin Church was established, and the Orthodox Cypriot Church experienced a series of religious persecutions. Maronites settled on Cyprus during the crusades and still maintain some villages in the North.


Around 1470, Venice began to attack the island, forcing the Queen of Cyprus, Catherine Cornaro, to will the Island to Venice, which occupied it on March 14, 1489.

Ottoman Empire

In 1570, the Turks first occupied the island, and Lala Mustafa Pasha became the first Turkish Governor of Cyprus, challenging the claims of Venice. Simultaneously, the Pope formed a coalition between the Papal States, Malta, Spain, Venice and several other Italian states, with no real result. In 1573 the Venetians left, removing the influence of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Ottoman Empire gave timars--land grants--to soldiers under the condition that they and their families would stay there permanently. The Ottomans also 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.

During the 17th century the Turkish population grew rapidly, partly by conversion. Most of the Turks who had settled on the island during the three 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. By 1970, ethnic Turks represented about 20% of the total population of the island, with ethnic Greeks representing the remainder. The distinction between the two groups was by religion, not necessarily by language or descent.

Many Cypriots supported the Greek independence effort that began in 1821, leading to severe reprisals by the Ottoman Empire. When Greece became independent in 1829 many Cypriots sought the incorporation of Cyprus into Greece, but it remained part of the Ottoman Empire.

British rule and annexation

In 1869 the Suez Canal opened, and Great Britain showed increasing interest in the island, which is situated in what had suddenly become a very convenient location. In private negotiations between Great Britain and the Porte in 1878, Britain agreed to support Turkey in the Russian-Turkish war, in exchange for control of Cyprus; this agreement was formalised as the Cyprus Convention. Lieutenant-General Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley (1833-1913) became the First High Commissioner in 1878. In 1880, the new Liberal government instituted separate education systems for Greek and Turkish speakers (Laws of Education of 1895, 1897 and 1905). Elementary teachers were appointed by village committees. The Greek government sponsored private schools, for example in Limassol (opened in 1899). In Nicosia, the Cypriot Brotherhood in Egypt sponsored a Greek Pancyprian Gymnasium in Nikosia. It was reconstructed in 1922. Greek schools taught Greek history and geography in preference to Cypriote subjects. Greek national holidays (Flag Day, the Greek national independence day) were celebrated by teachers and schoolchildren. Starting in 1923, the education system was increasingly centralised, elementary teachers were appointed by the (Greek and Turkish) Boards of education, since 1929 directly by the government. The education law of 1933 established governmental control over the curriculum of elementary schools as well. Administrative details were centrally supervised as well. Secondary education was to follow suit two years later. After the war, there were increasing demands for enosis, and in 1931, pro-Greek riots culminated in the burning down of the British government house in Nikosia.

In 1914 the Ottoman Empire declared war against Great Britain and France (as part of the complex series of alliances that led to World War I). The British cancelled their agreement with the Turks and annexed Cyprus on November 2, as part of the British Empire, making the Cypriots British subjects. On November 5 the British and the French declared war on the Ottoman Empire.

In 1915 Great Britain offered Cyprus to Greece if the latter chose to enter the war on the side of the Allies. Greece hesitated and the offer was withdrawn. Since then two prevailing plans have appeared for Cyprus: in general, the Greek Cypriots supported the union of the island with Greece (enosis) and the Turkish Cypriots its division to two parts (taksim).

After the Great war, Greek Nationalist propaganda was increasing. In 1931 the government-house in Nikosia was burned down during riots for enosis. The British declared martial law and abolished the legislative. The display of the Greek flag and the Greek National anthem were banned, in 1932 Flag Day was forbidden. Afterwards, the British promoted a more Cyprus-centered education and tried to promote a Cypriote identy in favour of Greek and Turkish ones.

In 1946, the British set up detention camps in Cyprus to house Jewish refugees from Europe caught trying to flee to Palestine. At their height in 1948 the camps held more than 40,000 refugees, nearly all of whom left for Israel after 1949, when the new state was firmly established. In 1949 a central Teacher's training college was established in Nikosia.

British military bases on the island have also played an important role in all recent armed conflicts on the island. Britain continues to hold 256 km² of land in two bases on the southern coast.

Proposed union with Greece

In 1948, King Paul of Greece declared that Cyprus desired union with Greece. In 1951 the Orthodox Church of Cyprus presented a referendum according to which around 97% of the Greek Cypriot population wanted the union. The United Nations accepted the Greek petition and enosis became an international issue. In 1952 both Greece and Turkey became members of NATO.

In 1955 EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters), a guerrilla group, was formed under the leadership of George Grivas, a Greek Cypriot army officer with right-wing extremist beliefs. For the next four years EOKA attacked primarily British or British-connected targets. Great Britain reacted, often with equal brutality and threats of satisfying the Turkish interests. Britain tried and to some degree succeeded in reproducing what it had done in India and other colonies, viz. to divide people by their religious beliefs in order to make the colonies easier to rule. Some writers have asserted that this commonly practiced British colonial policy resulted in the exaggeration of ethnic differences while reducing the sense of national identity. Archbishop Makarios and other Cypriot clergy and political leaders were forced into exile in Seychelles. In 1957 the U.N. decided that the issue should be resolved according to its Statutory Map. The exiles returned, and both sides began a series of violent acts against each other.

On February 19, 1959 the Zurich agreement attempted to end the conflict. Without the presence of either the Greek or the Turkish sides, Britain outlined a Cypriot constitution, which was eventually accepted by both sides. Both Greece and Turkey along with Britain were appointed as guarantors of the island's integrity. Some of the major points of the Zurich agreement are:


On August 16, 1960 Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom, after an anti-British campaign by the Greek Cypriot EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters), a guerrilla group which desired political union with Greece, or enosis. Archbishop Makarios, a charismatic religious and political leader, was elected the first president of independent Cyprus. In 1961 it became the 99th member of the UN.

The Zurich agreement, however, did not succeed in establishing cooperation between the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot populations. The Greek Cypriots argued that the complex mechanisms introduced to protect Turkish Cypriot interests were obstacles to efficient government. Both sides continued the violence. Turkey threatened to invade the island.

In November 1963, President Makarios advanced a series of constitutional amendments designed to eliminate some of these special provisions. The Turkish Cypriots opposed such changes. The confrontation prompted widespread intercommunal fighting in December 1963, after which Turkish Cypriot participation in the central government ceased. Makarios ordered a cease-fire and again addressed the issue to the United Nations. UN peacekeepers were deployed on the island in 1964. In 1964 the Turkish parliament voted in favour of the invasion of Cyprus but the lack of support that Turkey faced from both the U.N. and NATO prevented it. In answer Grivas was recalled to Athens and the Greek military force left the island.

Following another outbreak of intercommunal violence in 1967-68, a Turkish Cypriot provisional administration was formed.

Greek coup and Turkish invasion

In July 1974, an attempt by agents of the dictatorship then ruling Greece to seize power and unite the island with Greece was met by military intervention from Turkey, which exercised its powers under the treaty of guarantee it held. Turkey then invaded Cyprus on July 20. The military junta in Athens was sponsoring a coup led by extremist Greek Cypriots hostile to Makarios for his alleged pro-communist leanings and for his perceived abandonment of enosis.

In a two-stage offensive, Turkish troops took control of 38% of the island. Many Greek Cypriots fled south while many Turkish Cypriots fled north. Since then, the southern part of the country has been under the control of the Government of Cyprus and the northern part under an autonomous Turkish-Cypriot administration supported by the presence of Turkish troops.

In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but that entity is recognised only by Turkey. It faces an international embargo.

UN peacekeeping forces maintain a buffer zone between the two sides. Except for occasional demonstrations or infrequent incidents between soldiers in the buffer zone, there had been no violent conflict since 1974 until August 1996, when violent clashes led to the death of two demonstrators and escalated tension. There is little movement of people and essentially no movement of goods or services between the two parts of the island.

UN-led talks on the status of Cyprus resumed in December 1999 to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement. Efforts to reunite the island under a federal structure continue, however, under the auspices of the United Nations. As Cyprus planned to join the European Community in May 2004, there were renewed negotiations about the status of the Island. In December 2003, the borders between the two parts of Cyprus were partly opened, numerous Greek Cypriots visited the North, and labour migration of Turkish-speaking Cypriots to the south (especially in Levkosa/Nikosia) began.

A UN-sponsored referendum was put to the Cypriots in April 2004. If approved, it would have unified the island under a weak federal government as proposed by the UN in its Annan Plan. While the Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of unification, Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly voted against it, so that only the southern part of the island joined the EU on May 1, 2004.


1571-1878 Three centuries of Turkish rule under the Ottomans. Only the Venetian strongholds of Nicosia and Famagusta offer resistance. The Islanders themselves are glad to see the end of the oppressive Venetian rule. The Orthodox church is recognised again and the Archbishopric restored. The feudal system is abolished, but heavy taxes are imposed, using the church as tax collectors.

1625-1700 Great depopulation of Cyprus. The plague wipes out over half of the population

1821 Greek Cypriots side with Greece in a revolt against Turkish rule. The island's leading churchmen are executed as punishment.

1869 The Suez Canal opens.

1878-1960 British occupation. The British take over the administration of the island, ceded by the Ottomans, for its strategic value, to protect their sea route to India via the Suez Canal. In exchange, Britain agrees to help Turkey against future Russian attacks. Crown commissioners: Sir Robert Biddulph (1880-?) Sir Walter Sendall (1892-1898) Sir Charles King-Harman (1904-1910)

1914 Cyprus is annexed by Britain when Turkey joins with Germany and Austro-Hungary in World War I.

1925 Cyprus becomes a British Crown Colony. Governors: Sir Richmond Palmer

1931 First serious riots of Greek Cypriots demanding Enosis, the union with Greece. The government-house in Nikosia is burned down and martial law is declared afterwards and the legislative council is abolished. The display of the Greek flag and the Greek National anthem were banned.

1939 Greek Cypriots fight with the British in World War II, but remain set on Enosis after the war is over. The Turkish Cypriots, however want the British rule to continue.

1950 Archbishop Makarios III is elected as political and spiritual leader. Makarios becomes the head of the autocephalous Cypriot Orthodox Church and heads the campaign for Enosis with the support of Greece.

1955 A series of bomb attacks starts a violent campaign for Enosis by EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) led by George Grivas, an ex-colonel in Greek army, born in Cyprus. Grivas takes name of Dighenis, legendary Cypriot hero and conducts guerrilla warfare from a secret hideout in the Troodos Mountains. He is estimated to have 300 men at maximum, yet successfully plagues 20,000 British troops and 4,500 police.

1956 Britain deports Makarios to the Seychelles in attempt to quell the revolt. Turkish Cypriots are used as auxiliaries of British Security Forces, allegedly torturing EOKA captives during British cross-examinations.

1957 Field Marshal Sir John Harding is replaced by the civilian governor Sir Hugh Foot in a conciliatory move.

1958 Turkish Cypriots are alarmed by British conciliation and begin demands for partition. There are inter-communal clashes and attacks on British.

1960 British, Greek and Turkish governments sign a Treaty of Guarantee to provide for an independent Cypriot state within the Commonwealth and allowing for the retention of two Sovereign Base Areas of Dhekelia and Akrotiri. Under the treaty, each power has the right to take military action in the face of any threat to the constitution. Cyprus becomes truly independent for the first time. Archbishop Makarios, (Greek Cypriot) becomes the first President, Dr Kutchuk (Turkish Cypriot) Vice-President. Both have the right of veto. Turkish Cypriots, who form 18% of the population, are given 30% of jobs in government and administration, 40% in the army and separate municipal services in the five major towns.

1963-1973 Greek Cypriots view the constitution as unworkable and propose changes which are rejected by Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish government. Inter-communal fighting escalates. An UN Peace Keeping Force is sent in, but is powerless to prevent incidents. Thousands of Turkish Cypriots are 'ethnically cleansed' by the Greeks; Turkish villages stay isolated for months.

1974 - 1976 The military government (junta) in Greece supports a coup by the Greek National guard to overthrow Makarios. Makarios is forced to flee to the British base. A puppet regime is imposed under Nicos Sampson, a former EOKA fighter. Rauf Denktaş, the Turkish Cypriot leader, calls for joint military action by the UK and Turkey, as guarantors of Cypriot independence, to prevent Greece from imposing Enosis. The Turkish prime minister travels to London to persuade the UK to intervene jointly with Turkey, but fails, so Turkey lands 40,000 troops on the north coast of Cyprus. Turkey describes this as 'a peace operation to restore constitutional order and protect the Turkish Cypriot community'. UN talks break down and Turkish forces are left in control of 37% of the island. Refugees from both communities cross to respective sides of the de facto border. Turks announce a Federate State in the north, with Denktaş as leader. UN Forces stay as buffer between the two zones. Some 20,000 mainland Turks and Kurds, mainly subsistence farmers, often from the areas inundated by the Euphrates-dam, are brought in to settle and work the under-populated land. Those that stay more than five years are given citizenship of North Cyprus. On the Karpaz, a Greek-speaking minority stayed behind and is still under UN-supervision.

1977 Makarios dies, having been restored as President of Greek Cyprus after 1974. He is succeeded by Spyros Kyprianou.

1983 The Turkish Federated State declares itself independent as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), still with Denktaş as President. The new state is not recognised by any country except Turkey and boycotted.

1992-1995 UN sponsored talks between the two sides run into the sand, but with a commitment to resume.

2003 Cyprus wants to join the European Community in May 2004, renewed negotiations about the status of the Islands. In December 2003, the borders between the two parts of Cyprus were partly opened.

2004 The Annan Plan for reunification is rejected in a bipartisan referendum in the South. Cyprus joins the EU as a divided island on 1 May.

=See also=


  1. Prehistory
    • Veronica Tatton-Brown, Cyprus BC, 7000 years of history (London, British Museum 1979).
    • Stuart Swiny, Earliest Prehistory of Cyprus (American School of Oriental Research 2001) ISBN 0-89757-051-0
    • S. Gitin/A. Mazar/E. Stern (eds.), Mediterranean peoples in transition, thirteenth to early 10th century BCE (Jerusalem, Israel exploration Society 1998). Late Bronze Age and transition to the Iron Age.
    • J. D. Muhly, The role of the Sea People in Cyprus during the LCIII period. In: V. Karageorghis/J. D. Muhly (eds), Cyprus at the close of the Bronze Age (Nicosia 1984), 39-55. End of Bronze Age
  2. History, general
    • C. D. Cobham, Excerpta Cypria, materials for a history of Cyprus (Cambridge 1908). Collection of written sources.
    • D. Hunt, Footprints in Cyprus (London,Trigraph 1990).
  3. history, 20th century
    • C. Spyridiakis, The education policy of the English government in Cyprus (1878-1954).

=External links=