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.
Prehistoric and Ancient Periods in
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
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
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
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
1570 - The island was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The island's
leading churchmen were executed; 20,000 Christians escaped from
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
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
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
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
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 Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). 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.
Modern Cyprus History
1983 - Turkish Cypriots declared their independence for the first
time in Cyprus history under the name of the Turkish Republic of
Northern Cyprus (after 8 years of failed negotiations with the Republic
of Cyprus). The UN Security Council rejected the UDI (Declaration
of Independence) calling this action illegal. Till now the Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus has been recognised only by Turkey.
Besides, the Organization of the Islamic Conference recognizes the
northern part of the island as a constituent state of Cyprus.
1985 - The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Constitution was
2002 - The UN Secretary-General released a United Nations proposal,
named "Annan Plan", to bring about the reunification of
the divided island nation of Cyprus as the United Cyprus Republic.
2003 - The partial opening of the UN controlled demarcation line,
known as "Green Line", by the North Cypriot authorities.
The Republic of Cyprus allowed passage across the part of Nicosia
that it controls (as well as a few other selected crossing points),
since the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus does not require a
visa or leave entry stamps for such visits.
2004 - The "Annan Plan" was placed before the two communities
in a simultaneous vote in the reunification referendum. The proposal
received a 65% favourable vote from the Turkish community. The Greek
Cypriot community rejected it by nearly 75%. As the result, the
reunification of the island did not take place.
2005 - Turkish Cypriots elected a new president Mehmet Ali Talat
who supported "Annan Plan" and reunification of the island.
He is also the second president in Turkish Cyprus history.