Brief History

Cyprus, with its strategic location in the Middle East, has a rich past and has been a target for many great powers of the world. It has been colonized and ruled by Empires of the Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians. Before the annexation to Rome in 58 B.C. , also Phoenicians, Archaeans, and Greeks colonized that unique island.

The first constant occupation of Cyprus took place in the Neolithic period.

The first Neolithic settlements were established by settlers from Syria in the 9th Millennium BC. The most famous of the Neolithic village is Khirokitia at Kalavassos on the southern side of the island. Since the Bronze Age Cyprus supplied the eastern Mediterranean with copper. In the late Bronze Age trading centres such as the city of Enkomi emerged who were in close contact with the Levant.

To the Hittites and Ugarit Cyprus (or part of the island) was known as Alašija. Around 1200 BC the island was under Mycenaean influence and locally produced pottery implement it’s widely distribution in the Levant. Thereafter Cyprus was part of the Assyrian, Egyptian and Persian sphere of influence. The kingdom of Salamis gained little by little the domination over the island. In 332 BC, the kings of Cyprus turned to Alexander the Great and Cyprus was integrated to his empire. After the disintegration of the kingdom of Alexander the Great, Cyprus belonged to the Hellenistic Ptolemy’s.

In 58 BC, the island came under Roman rule. Cyprus remained Roman and Eastern Roman / Byzantine until 1184, in the end under King Isaac Comnenus. The Crusaders and the from France originating Lusignan Family ruled the island until 1489. Until 1571 the island belonged to the Venetian Republic and thereafter to the Ottoman Empire. In 1878 the island was leased by the Ottoman Empire to the island of Great Britain, which in returned promised support against Russia. With the entrance of the Ottoman Empire into the First World War (1914) on the part of the Central Powers, the island was annexed by the British, however, until the coming into force of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, the island formally still belonged to Turkey. In 1925 Cyprus became a Crown Colony. Due to the Agreement of Zurich between Britain, Greece and Turkey, the island was released into independence on the 16th of August 1960.

After riots and tensions erupted between the different ethnic groups residing on the island, United Nations peacekeeping forces were stationed in Cyprus (UNFICYP) to ensure stability and security and to prevent an escalation of the conflict in Cyprus. These efforts however were not successful. In support of the Greek junta coup in 1974 president Makarios was overthrew. The nationalist-oriented coup aimed at the annexation to Greece. As a result of pogroms and ethnic cleansing and relying on its role as a guarantee and protector of the Turkish islanders, Turkey intervened and secured the northern part of Cyprus through military intervention. The United Nations Security Council reaffirmed in its resolution 353 the integrity and indivisibility of the island and demanded the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops. On 16 August 1974, a ceasefire agreement was signed and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNFICYP) has since monitored the observance of the ceasefire.