A very quick history lesson on Cyprus

When talking about Cyprus, as it is with most other European countries, there’s a lot of history to take into account when it comes down to society and culture. And very few other regions or areas of the European Union have seen as many societies and civilizations take over, only to be replaced by others like Cyprus has.

The island has been inhabited since sometime around 3700 BC, but as far as actual civilizations go, the island went through a rapid succession of owners starting with the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and then Romans, which brings us to about 364 when an eight hundred year times-span begins in which the island is under the control of the Byzantine Empire.

Then it was in the hands of King Richard for a little while during the Crusades, but it came under Frankish control sometime during the late 12th century. The Venetian Republic got it in 1489 only for it to be conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1571. During this period, the Turks allowed for religious authorities to govern the non-Muslim minorities, which lead to the strengthening of the Orthodox Church’s position and to the cohesion of the ethnic Greek population.

During the three centuries of Ottoman rule, the island was settled by many Turks, the overwhelming majority of which stayed on when the control of Cyprus was ceded to Great Britain in 1878. Even though sovereignty was never ceded, many Turkish inhabitants did leave for Turkey in the 1920s because Cyprus was annexed formally by Great Britain in 1914 at the start of World War I, and thus became a British colony in 1925.

Fast forward to 1960 when Cyrpus gains its independence from the United Kingdom and establishes a constitutional republic, however shortly after this momentous event in the island’s history, some very serious differences arose between the two major communities that inhabited the island, with intercommunal violence sparking around the country.

Even though UN peacekeepers were deployed to Cyprus in 1964, a decade later Turkey launched a military intervention in order to protect Turkish Cypriots, and as a result took control of 38% of the island. This divided island status still exists today, however spirits have long been calmed down, and there is much more communication between the two parts.