apply for citizenship by investment in Cyprus
Discover history of the Island
Across the ages and cultures
Situated at the crossroads of maritime routes in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus has a very colourful and rich history. Throughout its history, the Island, highly appealing because of its location, passed from hand to hand: it has been owned by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Crusaders under the English King Richard the Lionheart, the Knights Templar, the French-speaking House of Lusignan, the Venetian state, the Turks and the British. This turbulent and colourful history has made Cyprus a true melting pot of cultures and nations.
Cyprus means copper
The first traces of settlement in Cyprus date back to 10,000 BC. Domesticated animals: cats, pigs, sheep and goats have been present there since about 8,000 BC. It is assumed that the first settlers on the island were peoples who migrated from Asia Minor. In the Bronze Age, in the 3rd to 2nd century BC, huge deposits of copper were discovered in the Troodos Mountains, speeding up the civilisational development of the Island. According to one hypothesis, the name Cyprus is derived from the Latin cuprum which means copper. For centuries Cyprus has been a leader in copper mining, supplying that metal to the entire Mediterranean basin. The golden colour on the Cypriot flag refers precisely to the colour of copper.
The first Greek settlers arrived on Cyprus around 1200 BC. They conquered indigenous people and built thriving centres in the south-west of the Island, in the environs of the present towns of Paphos and Polis. Although in subsequent centuries Cyprus was ruled by the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, the Island was strongly influenced by the Greek civilization, which gave Cyprus its wealth and dynamic growth.
A relative peace and stability came to Cyprus under the rule of the Roman Empire whose army occupied the Island in 58 BC and ruled there, with short breaks, for 600 years. Soon after the arrival of the Romans in Cyprus, Emperor Mark Anthony gave the island as a gift to his lover and ally, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Cleopatra reportedly was a frequent visitor in Cyprus, and her favourite place was a picturesque island in the bay today called St George (Ayios Georgios) west of Paphos (see photo above).
In subsequent centuries, the rule over Cyprus kept changing like a kaleidoscope. Cyprus was ruled in succession by: Byzantines, Crusaders, the Knights Templar, the French speaking House of Lusignan and the State of Venice which, fearing Turkish invasion, built powerful fortifications in Nicosia and Famagusta. Their fragments have survived to this day. They were partially destroyed during the aggression of the Ottoman Empire, which eventually conquered Cyprus in the sixteenth century.
Under the rule of the sultans
Under the rule of the sultans, despite the prevailing corruption and crippling taxation, Cyprus enjoyed relative autonomy, remaining on the periphery of the Ottoman Empire for 300 years. At this time, 20,000 Turkish settlers were brought to the Island. In 1878, the Turks, counting on the British support against Russia, placed Cyprus under the management of the UK, which was seeking to establish strategic points in this part of the world.
The idea of Enosis
Greek Cypriots greeted the British dominion with joy, hoping that the British would help them implement the idea of Enosis, or unification with Greece. When these hopes eventually fell in the 30s of the 20th c. the most radical fighters formed a military organization, EOKA, which in 1955-1958, opposed the British administration and army, and called for Cyprus unification with Greece. The Turkish minority, on the other hand, appealed to Turkey. Eventually, an agreement was reached, underwritten by the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey. Under that agreement, the 17 percent Turkish minority received 33 percent of seats in the Cypriot parliament and 40 percent of all army positions. On 16 August 1960, the independent Republic of Cyprus was proclaimed.
The conflict and division of Cyprus
The agreement, however, did not end a string of internal conflicts; tension grew between Greeks and Turks. In addition, Cyprus also became the battleground for the American-Russian rivalry which was gathering strength, along with the intensifying of the Cold War.
The idea of Enosis, or Cyprus unification with Greece, was also a cause for conflict within the Greek Cypriot community. When on 15 June 1974 the supporters of Enosis made a coup and overthrew the president, the Bishop Makarios, Turkish Cypriots, feeling threatened, called on Turkey to help. A few days later, the Turkish army invaded Cyprus from the north and seized about 37 percent of the country’s territory. Since then Cyprus has remained divided. Turks in the north formed a government administration recognized only by Turkey, while in the south, Greek Cypriots built a democratic state which in 2004 was accepted into the European Union. Every now and then the idea of Cyprus reunification resurges; the last attempt of 2004 ended with a fiasco. Also currently talks are being held which, with the support of the international community, may turn successful this time around.