History of North Cyprus

The Island of Cyprus has a long and varied history, ever since the first settlers came to the island in around 8500B.C. The abundance of copper and timber on the island, combined with its position in the middle of the major trading routes made Cyprus irresistible to a whole range of foreign powers, including the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Ottomans.

In Bronze Age (2500-1050BC) copper was more extensively exploited bringing wealth to Cyprus. Trade developed with the Near East, Egypt and the Aegean, where Cyprus was known as Alasia. During the 12th and 11th centuries mass waves of Achaean Greeks came to settle on the Cyprus Island spreading the Greek language, religion and customs. They gradually took control over Cyprus and establish the first city-kingdoms of Paphos, Salamis, Kition and Kourion.

During Hellenistic Period (325-58 BC) after the rivalries between Alexander’s generals, Cyprus eventually came under the Hellenistic state of the Ptolemies of Egypt, and from then onwards belonged to the Greek Alexandrine world. The Ptolemies abolished the city-kingdoms and unified Cyprus with Paphos as the capital city.

It was in Roman period (58BC – 330AD) when Cyprus came under the dominion of the Roman Empire. During the missionary journey of Saints Paul and Barnabas, the Proconsul Sergius Paulus was converted to Christianity and Cyprus became the first country to be governed by a Christian. Destructive earthquakes occurred during the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD and cities had to be rebuilt. In 313 the Edict of Milan grants freedom of worship to Christians.

During Byzantine Period (330-1191 AD) after the division of the Roman Empire, Cyprus became a part of the Eastern Roman Empire, known as Byzantium with Constantinople as its capital. Christianity became the official religion. In 647 Arabs invade the island under Muawiya. For three centuries Cyprus was constantly under attack by Arabs and pirates until 965, when Emperor Nicephoros Phocas expeled Arabs from Cyprus.

In Lusignan Period (1192-1489) Cyprus was ruled on the feudal system and the Catholic Church officially replaces the Greek Orthodox, which though under severe suppression manages to survive.

Venetian Period started in 1489 and lasted until 1571. Venetians view Cyprus as a last bastion against the Ottomans in the east Mediterranean and fortify the island, tearing down lovely buildings in Lefkosia to reduce the boundaries of the city within fortified walls. They also build impressive walls around Ammochostos which were considered at the time as works of art of military architecture.

In 1570 Ottoman troops attacked Cyprus and they captured Nicosia. commander Marc Antonio Bragadin, Ammochostos falls to the Ottoman commander Lala Mustafa, who at first allows the besieged a peaceful exodus, but later orders the flaying of Bragadin and puts all others to death. On annexation to the Ottoman Empire, the Latin leadership is expelled or converted to Islam and the Greek Orthodox Church restored.

Under the 1878 Cyprus Convention, Britain assumes administration of the island and British Period (1878-1960) has begun. Cyprus remains formally part of the Ottoman Empire until the latter enters the World War I. on the side of Germany, and in 1925 Cyprus became a part of Britain colonies.

In 1958 Greek Cypriot nationalist leader Archbishop Makarios began calling for Cypriot independence rather than union with Greece. Independence was granted in 1960.The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was subsequently proclaimed in 1983. The Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus was established, but has not achieved full international recognition. In 2002, intense dialogue between north and south helped ease the tension, and in 2003 Northern Cyprus border crossings with the south opened up, under more relaxed border entry rules.


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