HISTORY OF CYPRUS
The history of Cyprus is one of the oldest recorded in the world. From the earliest times Cyprus´ historical significance far outweighed its small size. Its strategic position at the crossroads of three continents, as well as its considerable supplies of copper and timber combined to make it a highly desirable territorial acquisition.The first signs of civilization go back to the 9th millennium BC, while the discovery of copper on the island brought wealth and trade to the island. Around 1200 BC a process began that was to stamp the island with an identity that it still has today; the arrival of Mycenaean – Achaean Greeks as permanent settlers, who brought with them their language and culture.
Cyprus was subsequently conquered by various nations but managed to retain its Greek identity, language and culture intact. The Turkish Cypriots came much later. They were descendants of the Ottoman Turks who occupied the island for more than 300 years between the 16th and 19th century, and have contributed their own heritage to the country.Christianity was introduced to the island during the 1st century AD by St. Paul himself and St. Barnabas, founder of the Church of Cyprus.
Neolithic Period (8200-3900 BC)
Remains of the oldest known settlements in Cyprus date from this period. They can best be seen at Choirokoitia, just off the Nicosia to Limassol highway. At first, only stone vessels were used. Pottery appeared on a second phase after 5000 BC.
Chalcolithic Age (3900-2500 BC)
Transitional period between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. Most Chalcolithic settlements were found in western Cyprus, where a fertility cult developed. Copper was beginning to be discovered and exploited on a small scale.
Bronze Age (2500-1050 BC)
Copper was more extensively exploited bringing wealth to Cyprus. Trade developed with the Near East, Egypt and the Aegean, where Cyprus was known under the name of Alasia.
After 1400 BC Mycenaeans from Greece first came to the island as merchants. Around 1200 BC, mass waves of Achaean Greeks came to settle on the island spreading the Greek language, religion and customs. They gradually took control over Cyprus and established the first city-kingdoms of Pafos, Salamis, Kition and Kourion. The hellenisation of the island was then in progress.
Geometric Period (1050-750 BC)
Cyprus was then a Greek island with ten city-kingdoms. The cult of the Goddess Aphrodite flourished at her birthplace Cyprus.
Republic of Cyprus
According to the Zurich-London agreements, Cyprus became an independent republic on 16 August 1960. As an independent country it became a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement. According to the above treaty, Britain retained two sovereign bases (158.5 sq. km) on the island, at Dekeleia and Akrotiri-Episkopi.
The Zurich - London agreements comprised the Treaty of Establishment, the Treaty of Guarantee and the Treaty of Alliance. Under the Treaty of Guarantee, Britain, Greece and Turkey pledged to ensure the independence, territorial integrity of Cyprus as well as respect for its Constitution. The Treaty of Alliance between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey was a military alliance agreed for defence purposes. These agreements also became the basis for the 1960 Constitution.
The 1960 Constitution incorporated a system of entrenched minority rights unparalleled in any other country. The 18% Turkish Cypriot community was offered cultural and religious autonomy and a privileged position in the state institutions of Cyprus (Turkish Cypriot Vice President, three out of the ten Ministers of the Government and 15 out of 50 seats in the House of Representatives). The Turkish Cypriot leadership’s use of its extensive powers of veto gave rise to deadlock and inertia. In November 1963, when Cyprus´ first President Makarios put forward proposals for amendment of the Constitution in order to facilitate the smooth functioning of government, the Turkish side promptly rejected them, arguing that the Constitution could not be amended without the entire independence agreement being revoked.
The Turkish Cypriot ministers withdrew from the Council of Ministers and Turkish Cypriot civil servants ceased attending their offices. The ensuing constitutional deadlock gave rise to intercommunal clashes and Turkish threats to invade. Since then, and despite the fact that normality gradually returned to the island, the aim of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, acting on instructions from the Turkish Government, has been the partitioning of Cyprus and its annexation to Turkey.
From: Aspects of Cyprus