CYPRUS BRIEF HISTORICAL SURVEY
PREHISTORY ~ 10.000-8.500 BC
Pre-neolithic period. The earliest signs of life in Cyprus were discovered in the
small collapsed rock shelter of Aetokremnos (Eagle Cliff) in Akrotiri.
(Limassol District Museum)
The first steps of the neolithization of the island have recently come to light at the
Shillourokambos settlement of Limassol district (under excavation).
Neolithic Age. Remains of the best known settlement in Cyprus dated to
the earliest phase of that period can be seen at Khirokitia(6800-6000)
between Nicosia and Limassol.
Chalcolithic Age. The transitional period between the Neolithic economy
to the Bronze Age one had been researched in the Chalcolithic site of Erimi.
( Limassol district Museum).
Bronze Age. Metal work industry developed. Decisive changes in culture and
economy during the Late Bronze Age (1650-1050 B.C.) henceforth determining
the history of the island. Commercial contacts with the Aegean world established
and Mycenaean's (ancient Greeks) settled on the coasts of Cyprus.
The Mediterranean indigenous people gradually assimilated creating a
peripheral center of Greek culture.
1050-325 BC ~ Waves of
immigrants from mainland Greece(Arcadia), invasions by the Phoenicians and
successive submission to the Assyrian, Egyptian and Persian states.
Alexander the Great destroyed the might of Persia and included Cyprus in
the Macedonian state.
323 BC ~ Alexander the Great died; Cyprus ruled by Viceroys of Ptolemy I of Egypt and his
successors. Capital transferred from Salamis to Paphos.
58-38 BC ~
The first Roman occupation of Cyprus.
22 BC ~
Government effected by a Proconsul who was directly responsible to Rome.
45 AD ~ Apostles Paul and Barnabas arrived in Cyprus to spread the Christian doctrine and succeeded in
converting the Proconsul, Sergius Paulus, to Christianity at Paphos. Cyprus then became the first country
to be governed by a Christian.
116 AD ~ A general revolt by the Jews against Roman power and the spread of Christianity included
Cyprus where thousands of Cypriots and Jews were killed. As a result further settlement of
Jews in Cyprus was forbidden.
324 AD ~
The beginning of the Early Christian period. Constantine the Great the new Roman Emperor
founded Constantinople the new capital of the revived Roman (Byzantine empire).
395 AD ~ After the partition of the Roman Empire between the two sons of Emperor Theodosius,
Cyprus came under the Byzantine Empire with its Capital in Constantinople.
Patriarch of Antioch tried to bring the Church of Cyprus under his control.
Archbishop Anthemios of Cyprus, inspired by a dream, found the tomb of St. Barnabas
with a copy of St. Mathew's gospel which he showed to Emperor Zeno. The Emperor
accepted this as the status of the Church of Cyprus and granted the Archbishop imperial
privileges of holding a scepter instead of a pastoral staff, wearing a purple mantle and using red ink
for his signature; privileges which are enjoyed today by His Beatitude the Archbishop.
7th-10TH CENTURIES ~
Chiefly notable for continuous Arab raids on the island during which
destruction was caused, especially to churches and ecclesiastic art. Castles of Kyrenia
Saranta Kolones at Paphos built.
965 AD ~
Arabs expelled from Asia Minor and neighboring coastal areas by Byzantine Emperor,
Nikiforos Focas, putting a stop to the raids. The advance of Seljukes in Asia Minor
and the first crusade in the eleventh century obliged the Emperors
of Constantinople to turn Cyprus into a stronghold. It was then that the castles
of St. Hilarion, Bufavento and Kantara were built.
Isaac Comnenos, usurped the Byzantine authority of Cyprus, declared
himself independent ruler of Cyprus.
Part of Richard Coeur de Lion's fleet wrecked off Limassol on the way to the third crusade.
Survivors included his fiancee, Berengaria of Navarre, who was
treated by Comnenos. Richard invaded and captured the island.
Richard transferred sovereignty to Guy de Lusignan, starting a 300-year dynasty.
Cyprus ruled on the feudal system; Catholic church officially replaced
although the latter managed to survive in spite of many persecutions.However,
Famagusta became one of the richest cities in the Middle East.
Many beautiful buildings erected, Bellapais Abbey, Nicosia and Famagusta Cathedrals,
still to be seen. Peak of this period passed towards the end of the 14th Century;
Famagusta captured by the Genoese and Limassol sacked by the Egyptians.
Period of rule by the Venetians who used Cyprus as a fortified base against the Turks.
Trade and culture languished and heavy taxes imposed to pay for the fortifications.
In spite of this, Turkey successfully attacked Cyprus, gaining control of the island
after the fall of Famagusta which had heroically withstood the Turkish siege for a year.
Under Turkish rule a certain amount of autonomy was granted:
the Greek Orthodox Church being re-established and the Latin Church expelled.
Influence of Church increased considerably in 1821, mainland Greeks rebelled against Turks;
Cypriot Archbishop and other notables executed on suspicion of conspiracy.
Agreement between Great Britain and Turkey transferred administration of Cyprus
Great Britain in exchange for help in the event of Russian hostility; annual rental fee
paid to Turkey by Britain. Many reforms introduced.
Turkey entered the Great War against Great Britain who formaly annexed Cyprus from the Turks.
Following a four-year liberation struggle (E.O.K.A.), Zurich-London
Agreements declared Cyprus should become an Independent Republic.
16 AUGUST 1960 ~
Cyprus was declared an independent republic. Cyprus became a member of the
United Nations, the British Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, the
Non-aligned Movement and other international organizations.
20 JULY 1974 ~
Using the coup d'etat against President Makarios as a pretext, Turkey invaded Cyprus
in violation of international law, thus causing the worst calamity in its history:
37% of the territory of Cyprus, from which almost all its Greek Cypriot population
was uprooted, continues to be under occupation. A large number of Turkish settlers
have been transferred to northern Cyprus with the clear intention of changing the
demographic character of the island. Moreover, the tradition and cultural heritage of Cyprus
are being deliberately destroyed and churches and holy places are being desecrated.
The international community condemned the invasion and occupation of part of Cyprus
by Turkey, and called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops and settlers.
Archbishop Makarios III, died after a heart attack on 3 August 1977.
The leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Spyros Kyprianou, succeeded him as
President of Cyprus, who was re-elected for a second term in February 1983.
In the 1988 presidential elections, Mr. George Vassiliou took office for five years.
Mr. Glafkos Clerides, a veteran politician was elected President of the Republic in 1993.
He was re-elected for a further five year tern in February 1998.
And nowadays, President of the Republic of Cyprus is Mr. Tasos Papadopoulos
2009 elected president for a further five years Mr. Christofias.
New Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus since 28 February 2013