The island's privileged geographical position ,explains
both its tumultuous history and the fact that Cyprus has
important roll in the Eastern Mediterranean, through the
The first traces of civilization date back more than 9000
years to the Neolithic period. Subsequent cultural phases
developed during Chalcolithic and Bronze Age periods
until the end of the 2ndmillennium BC.
But the most important event in the history of the Cyprus
was the arrival of Achaean Greek settlers in the 12th and
11th centuries BC, who decisively determined its cultural
identity. Greek language, religion, arts and traditions
were introduced, and towns founded which exist today.
Well-known to the ancients for its copper mines and
forests, Cyprus was an object of contest among the great
powers of the Mediterranean region.
Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians conquered and ruled the
island until it was liberated in 333 BC by the Alexander
Under the Ptolemies, a Cypriot philosopher, Zenon of
Kition, founded the Stoic school of philosophy in Athens,
which spread throughout the ancient world.
Important events during the Roman Period (58 BC-330 AD)
were the missionary journeys of Apostles Paul and of the
Cypriot born Barnabas, who converted the Roman proconsul
Cyprus became the world's first Christian-ruled land
and the Cypriots are the first Europeans
to have become Christians.
After the division of the Roman Empire, the Glorious Byzantine
era began when some of the most beautiful churches
and renowned monasteries were established.
On his way to his holy land, Richard the Lion-Heart,
leader of the 3rd Crusade, conquered the island
(1191),soon sold to the Knights Templar who in turn
bestowed it on Guy de Lusignan, the ex Frankish King of
His family , originally from Poitiers of France,
established a Catholic monarchy ruled Cyprus for 3
centuries. Caterina Cornaro from Venice , the last
Lusignan queen, was forced to yield her rights to the
Venetians after the death her husband who used Cyprus as a
bulwark, so securing their commercial and strategic
interests against the Ottomans from 1489 till 1571.
They, however, conquered the island and started a very oppressive rule lasting for 3 centuries, when Cyprus' connections with
Europe were served. Latin were expelled but eventually Greek-Orthodox Church , which had been oppressed during the period of Lusignan and Venetian rule, recovered its autocephaly (jurisdictional independence).
With the opening of Suez Canal, in 1869, Cyprus' strategic value became even greater. With this in mind, in 1878, Great Britain took over administration of the island and in 1925 made it a British Crown Colony. After a four year liberation struggle, Cyprus became an independent republic, in 1960.
In 1974, Turkish forces invaded the north of the island turning one third of the population into refugees. The continued violation of the fundamental human rights of the people of Cyprus has been condemned by international bodies, but to date Turkey has refused to withdraw from
Cyprus and maintains the island's division by the force of arms.
Although the invasion has dealt a tremendous blow to the economy of the island, Cyprus has managed to sustain a policy of reconstruction and economic development. Economically and politically, Cyprus has aligned itself with the European Union and aspires to become a full member in the near