The republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, after the former colony gained independence from Britain. Since 1974, however, a de facto division of the island has existed, with the Greek Cypriot community controlling 63 percent of the territory, and the Turkish Cypriots, backed by Turkish army units, 37 percent.
The island’s location in the eastern Mediterranean Sea has made it easily accessible from Europe, Asia, and Africa since the earliest days of ships. Its timber and mineral resources made it important as a source of trade goods in the ancient world, but attracted conquerors, pirates, and adventurers in addition to merchants and settlers. About the middle of the second millennium B.C. Cyprus was subjected to foreign domination for the first time, and from then until 1960, almost without interruption, outside powers controlled the island and its people.
Christianity was introduced early in the Christian Era, when Cyprus was under Roman rule, by the apostles Paul, Mark, and Barnabas. The martyrdom of Barnabas and the later discovery of his tomb are particularly important events in the history of the Church of Cyprus.
After Greece had won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821, the idea of enosis (union with Greece) took hold among ethnic Greeks living in the Ionian and Aegean islands, Crete, Cyprus, and areas of Anatolia. Britain ceded the Ionian Islands to Greece in 1864, and after control of Cyprus passed from the Ottoman Empire to the British Empire in 1878, Greek Cypriots saw the ceding of the Ionian islands as a precedent for enosis for themselves. Under British rule, agitation for enosis varied with time. After World War II, in the era of the break-up of colonial empires, the movement gained strength, and Greek Cypriots spurned British liberalization efforts. In the mid-1950s, when anticolonial guerrilla activities began, Turkish Cypriots–who until that time had only rarely expressed opposition to enosis–began to agitate for taksim, or partition, and Greece and Turkey began actively to support their respective ethnic groups on the island. The result was stalemate. Intercommunal violence broke out in December 1963, and resulted in the segregation of the two ethnic communities and establishment of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). Even with United Nations (UN) troops as a buffer, however, intermittent conflict continued and brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of war in 1964 and 1967.
The irony of the divided Cyprus that has existed since 1974 is that the stage was set for Turkish intervention by the Greek government in Athens. The military junta that controlled Greece came to view Archbishop Makarios as an obstacle to settlement of the Cyprus problem and establishment of better relations between Athens and Ankara. A successful coup was engineered in Cyprus in July 1974, Makarios was ousted, and a puppet president installed. Turkey, as one of the guarantor powers according to the agreements that led to Cypriot independence, sent troops into Cyprus to restore order. Britain, as another guarantor power, refused to participate. Meanwhile, in Greece the junta had collapsed, and a new government was being established. After a short cease-fire and a few days of hurried negotiations, the Turkish government reinforced its troops and ordered them to secure the northern part of the island.
Turkish forces seized 37 percent of the island and effected a de facto partition that was still in existence at the beginning of the 1990s. Turkish Cypriots declared the establishment of their own state in 1983, but as of 1990 only Turkey had recognized the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” Years of laborious negotiations at numerous venues had also achieved little toward ending the island’s tragic division.
Wild Orchids Cyprus
If you are planning to visit Cyprus it is good to know that many wild orchids are currently known to be found in Cyprus. Spring Orchids during February and March and most of the mountain species can be seen in mid-to-late June. These are the endemic orchids of Cyprus – just a few of the fascinating species you could find here.
- CDC – Travelers’ Health: Cyprus – Health information for travel to the country from the U.S. Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Cypnet – North Cyprus history, geography, transportation, climate and culture. Guide for visitors, tourism, beaches, restaurants and bars.
- Cyprus Beach Guide – More than just a beach guide, this covers the main towns both sides of the green line, places of interest, a brief history, and general facts about the island.
- The Cyprus Guide – Cyprus information and places of interest. Also includes business directory.
- Cyprus Top 10 – Photo travel tour of southern Cyprus’ top cities, beaches, attractions and historical sites.
- Cyprus Tourism Organization – Official site of the Cyprus Tourism Organization. A travel planner to the history, archaeology, cuisine, and cruises from Cyprus to the Mediterranean.
- Cyprus Tourist Guide – Discover the enchanting island of Aphrodite with the Contains sections on beaches, transport, main towns, culture, and places to visit.
- Cyprus Travel Guide – Old Description: Tourist and business travel information with facts on climate, visa, health, passport, currency and customs requirements
- Cyprus Travel Secrets – About the site, town guides, where to stay, what to do, newsletter, and site search function.
- Cyprus.com – Covers southern Cyprus. Contains Cyprus guide, tourist information, property guide, main towns, culture, places of interest, and forum.
- Cyprushotels.com – Offers links and information about hotels and tours. Features online form to send requests to hotels.
- iExplore – Cyprus – Adventure and experiential travel group provides a guide on the country and its history, events, places to go and activities with tours, photos and other tourist information.
- Lonely Planet – Cyprus – Comprehensive facts and advice for traveling along with background material on the culture and history of the country.
- National Geographic – Cyprus – Fast facts along with videos, music clips, photo galleries and navigable, zoomable maps.
- Trade.State.Gov – Cyprus – Offers travel information including Quick Facts, embassies and consulates, entry and exit requirements, safety and security, local laws, health, transportation and Fact Sheet. From the U.S. Department of State.