The Big History Of The Tiny Island Of Cyprus

by : Adrian Adams

The tiny country of Cyprus is packed with history dating as far back as the Neolithic Age, 7000 BC. Travel anywhere and you can see the ancient monuments and sites, monasteries and churches that bear silent witness to more than 9 centuries of history and civilization.

The remains discovered in Kalavassos and Khirokitia date back to 7000 BC and are believed to be the remains of the oldest settlement in this region.

3900 -2500 BC represented the Chalcolithic age as indicated by the remains of their settlements that are mostly found along the western region of Cyprus.

It was only after 1400 BC that the first Greek people set foot on this island. The Achaean Greeks who came and settled here brought with them their customs, traditions, religion and also the Greek language. They went about building new cities including Kourion, Kition, Salamis and Paphos and progressively Hellenized the island.

Cyprus was considered to be a Greek island by 1050 BC. Comprising of ten city-kingdoms and with the culture, religion and language of Greece well established, it is now a prosperous and flourishing country.

From 750 BC to 325 BC, though the era of prosperity continues, the island was conquered several times and came under the rule of Assyria, Egypt and Persia at different times.

In 333 BC, the warrior Alexander the Great defeats Persia and stakes claim to Cyprus as part of his own empire. Paphos is now the capital of this island.

Cyprus continues to belong to the Hellenist Empire til 58 BC, when it becomes a part of the Roman Empire. During one the many missionary journeys to Cyprus, Saint Paul converts to Christianity. Cyprus thus becomes the first nation to be governed by a Christian.

During the 1st century BC and 1 AD much of the island is destroyed in major earthquakes and the city needs to be rebuilt.

In 1911 AD, Cyprus is conquered and taken over by crusader Richard the Lionheart. It is then sold to the Knights of Templar and then resold to Guy de Lusignan.

By 1489 the Venetians take over the island. They begin fortifying the island and building walls around the cities of Famagusta and Nicosia.

By 1571 Cyprus is invaded by Ottoman troops and becomes a part of the great Ottoman Empire. The Greek Orthodox religion is once again restored.

Britain takes over administration of the island in 1878 and the island is declared to be a Crown colony in 1925.

On 16th August 1960, Cyprus finally becomes an independent republic in accordance with the Zurich-London Treaty signed that year. This little island is now a member of the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth.