Sunday, October 11, 2015


Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean.  Geographically it is more in Asia than in Europe.  The island is bigger than Delaware but smaller than Connecticut.  It is between Turkey and Egypt, with Greece to the west and to the east and southeast are Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine.

Human history on the island dates back to around the 10th millennium BC.  Greeks settled Cyprus in the 2nd millennium BC.  Due to its strategic location it has been ruled by the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Roman Empire, the Venetians, the Ottoman Empire and probably a few others.  The Ottomans ruled from 1571 to 1878 when it was placed under British administration.  The UK annexed the island in 1914 when Turkey joined the Central Powers in WWI.

Cyprus is made up of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.  In the 1950s the roughly 18% of Turkish Cypriots wanted a Turkish state in the north while the Greek Cypriots wanted to become part of Greece.  In 1960 Cyprus gained independence from the UK but a few years later began a period of violence between the two Cypriot communities.  Many people on both sides were displaced.

In 1974, there was a coup d'état by Greek Cypriots, with backing from the Greek military junta, in order to join Cyprus with Greece.  In response, five days later, Turkey invaded northern Cyprus and fighting lasted for three days.  The Turks took about 37% of the island and more than 150,000 Greek Cypriots and 50,000 Turkish Cypriots were displaced.

Flag of Northern Cyprus
In 1983 the north proclaimed the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.  Turkey is the only country in the world to recognise Northern Cyprus.  Over the years it is believed that about 150,000 Turkish settlers have moved to Northern Cyprus.

Today the island is still split in two.  Internationally, the Republic of Cyprus, the Greek part in the south, is recognized as Cyprus.  The demarcation between the two parts is the Green Line which is maintained by the United Nations.

The United Kingdom still maintains control of the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia which are military base areas.

Flag of the Republic of Cyprus

The Republic of Cyprus is part of the European Union.  The capital is Nicosia and it is the only divided capital in Europe as North Nicosia is the capital of the north.

The presence of turkish troops is viewed as an illegal occupation so no international air or sea traffic arrives in Cyprus in the northern part, except from Turkey.  The Nicosia International Airport has been closed since 1974 as it is on the Turkish side.

Hopefully at some point the two parts will be able to reunite.  Who knows if it will be before or after Ireland or Korea reunites?  Here's a video I found out on YouTube about Cyprus being divided.

©TestTube News

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