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Edition No. 20

Edition No. 20

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50 Years of Cypriot Democracy

Edition No. 20

Edition No. 20

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1/20110110CE50060,160,000-60,160,499FutureCards


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CYPRUS: 11,000 Years of History and Culture

Cyprus, according to one account, took its name from the Cypress trees that once grew in abundance on the island. But throughout antiquity it was known by many other names, including Aeria, Makaria, Kerastis and more. However, what made it stand out as a desirable place for settlement was its geographical location. At the crossroads of three continents, it has long been a crossroads where different religions and cultures meet and a bridge linking East and West.

A host of monuments, which survive to this day and bear witness not merely to man’s presence but to the civilization that prevailed on the island, date from the 9th millennium B.C. (Neolithic Age) when the first settlements were built from stone, mud brick and clay. This was followed by the Chalcolithic Era (3900 B.C.-2500 B.C.) with its limited exploitation of copper, and then by the three stages of the Bronze Age (2500 B.C.-1050 B.C.) when Cyprus developed into a powerful centre for trade, and finally the Iron Age (1050 B.C.-750 B.C.).

The historical identity of the island was marked by the arrival of the Mycenaean/ Achaean Greeks in 1200 B.C. Many of them were heroes who had taken part in the Trojan War, after which they came and settled in Cyprus. With them they brought their language, a technologically advanced civilization and a new attitude towards the Arts.
Of these, the Arcadians settled in Paphos. The new city of Paphos was built by the Arcadian King Agapinor. Due to the mass settlement of Cyprus by the Arcadians, Cyprus and Arcadia had the same ancient language, an Arcadian/Cypriot dialect which is to be found in Homer’s epics “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” and even in some villages in the Paphos district to this very day!

Due to its significant geographical location, Cyprus has endured a tempestuous history as countless conquering nations have laid claim to the island. In antiquity the Assyrians (709 B.C.) were followed by the Egyptians (569 B.C.) and the Persians (525 B.C.). The Persians were finally removed by Alexander the Great who gave Cyprus its freedom. Upon his death, the island passed into the hands of Ptolemy, one of his many heirs, but in 30 B.C. it became part of the Roman Empire until 330 A.D.
During the first years of Christianity, Cyprus was visited by the Apostles Barnabas, (founder of the Church of Cyprus) and Paul who preached the Gospel across the island in 45 A.D.

During the Byzantine era (4th –12th century), Cyprus enjoyed one of the most important and prosperous periods in its history. However, during the crusades, due to a clash between King Richard (“the Lionheart”) of England and the Cypriot Governor Isaac Comnenus, Cyprus came under the authority of King Richard (1191-1192) who first sold it to the Knights Templar and, a year later, to the ousted French King of Jerusalem Guy de Lusignan, under whose family it remained until 1489. Cyprus then came under the rule of the Venetians (who built the famous walls) until 1570 when it became part of the Ottoman Empire (1571-1878).

In July 1878, Turkey ceded its rights over Cyprus to Great Britain. In 1955-1959, the Cypriots undertook a liberation struggle, demanding that their demands for Freedom and Self-determination be met, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations charter. Following the signing of the Zurich-London Agreements, with Britain, Greece and Turkey as Guarantor Powers, Archbishop Makarios III (subsequently the first President of Cyprus) on behalf of the Greek Cypriot community, Dr. Fazil Kuchuk on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot community, and Sir Hugh Foot, the last Governor of Cyprus, put their signatures to the creation of the independent Republic of Cyprus (16 August 1960).
From 1960 until 1974, Cyprus made huge progress and developed in all areas. Agriculture, commerce, industry and tourism contributed to an economic miracle on the island, the fate of which had, until then, always been decided by others. In 1974, however, using the pretext of a coup d’état against President Makarios, Turkey cited its rights as a Guarantor Power and invaded Cyprus, seizing 38% of its territory. Following an agreement on population exchange, the Turkish Cypriots who, at the time, made up 16%-18% of the island’s population, have seen their numbers increase constantly as part of Turkey’s attempts to bring about demographic change by settling Turks in the occupied area.

Cyprus, a member state of the European Union since 2004, continues to be divided to this day, with the Turkish Cypriots living in the occupied northern part of the island and the Greek Cypriots in the south. It is engaged on a daily basis in battles in Europe and in all international fora, in an effort to make the international community aware of its own responsibility for the continuing injustice and presence of the Turkish occupation forces on the island.

Nonetheless, despite the many problems facing it, Cyprus has become an enviable commercial, business, tourist and cultural centre, providing local and foreign residents with upgraded services in sectors such as health, sport, etc.