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Cyprus through the Ages

8500-3900 B.C.: Neolithic Age
The oldest settlements found on the island date from this period. Stone vessels and later, pottery was used.

3900-2500 B.C.: Chalcolithic Age
Chalcolithic settlements and evidence of a fertility cult, have been found in Western Cyprus.  Copper discovered.

2500-1650 B.C.: Early and Middle Bronze Age
Beginning in about 2400 BC, prospectors from Anatolia explored the island for copper. These newcomers settled in the foothills of Troodos Mountains which was a copper rich area. In the early Bronze Age the use of metal became more widespread in Cyprus. Cyprus began to export copper.

1650-1050 B.C.: Bronze Age
Cyprus was known as “Alasia” during this great trading period with its neighbors, partly because of its exploitation of copper. After 1400 B.C., the first of many waves of Greek merchants and settlers (Mycenaeans and Achaecans) reached the island, spreading the Greek language, religion and customs. They gradually took control and established the first city-kingdoms.

1050-750 B.C.: Geometric Period
The Hellenization of Cyprus was complete, with ten city-kingdoms. The cult of Aphrodite flourished in a period of great prosperity.

750-480 B.C.: Archaic and Classical Period
An era of prosperity and conquest. Cypriot kingdoms became tributary to Assyria, Egypt and Persia. But King Evagoras (411-374) unified the island, making it an important center of the Greek world.

333-325 B.C.
Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, takes Cyprus as part of his empire.

310-30 B.C.: Hellenistic Period
Alexander’s generals fought for succession, and Cyprus eventually came under the Hellenistic state of the Ptolemies of Egypt, belonging from then on to the Greek Alexandrine world. Pafos became capital.

30 B.C.-330 A.D.: Roman Period
Cyprus became part of the Roman Empire. But Saints Paul and Barnabas converted the Roman proconsul to Christianity, and he became the first Christian ruler in the world. In 313 freedom of worship was granted, and Cypriot bishops attended the council of Nicea in 325. The period was marked by earthquakes that required rebuilding of cities.

330-1191 A.D.: Byzantine Period
After the division of the Roman Empire, Cyprus became part of Byzantium, with Christianity becoming the official religion. Empress Helena visited the island and founded Stavrovouni Monastery. The period again saw earthquakes and rebuilding, including large Basilicas. In 488, after the discovery of St. Barnabas’ tomb, the Church of Cyprus was granted full autonomy by Emperor Zeno. In 647 the first of a series of Arab raids occurred. The raids went on until 965, when Arabs were expelled from Asia Minor and Cyprus.

1191-1192: Richard the Lionheart and the Knights Templar
Richard, leader of the Third Crusade, took possession of Cyprus and married Berengria of Navarre, crowning her Queen of England. A year later he sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar who resold it to Guy de Lusignan, deposed King of Jerusalem.

1192-1489: Frankish (Lusignan) Period
The Catholic Church officially replaced the Greek Orthodox Church, but the latter managed to survive. The city of Ammochostos became one of the richest cities in the world in this period, which ended when the last queen Catherina Cornaro ceded Cyprus to Venice in 1489.

1489-1571: Venetian Period
The last queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro, wife of King James the II, ceded the island to Venice in 1489. This resulted in the definitive ousting of the Genoans from the island and the prevalence of Venetian rule Venice’s main aim was to secure a firm hold of Cyprus that would allow the uninterrupted movement and supply of Venetian ships in the Eastern Mediterranean.  The Venetians fortified the island against the Ottomans, building formidable walls around Lefkosia and Ammochostos, where the defenses were considered works of art in military architecture.

1571-1878: Ottoman Period
The period of Ottoman rule in Cyprus began with the fall of Ammochostos (Famagusta) in 1571.  Cyprus fell to the Ottoman troops after much bloodshed. The Latin leadership was expelled and the Orthodox church restored with the Archbishop becoming the people’s representative to the Sultan. When the Greek War of Independence broke out in 1821, many prominent Cypriots, including the Archbishop, were executed. During this period a proportion of Cypriots and Latins succumbed to pressures and converted to Islam, thus creating the Muslim minority.

1878-1960: British Period
In 1878 Britain assumed administration of the island, subsequently annexing it in 1914, after the Ottomans entered the First World War in Germany’s side. In 1923 under the Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey relinquished all rights to Cyprus, and in 1925 Cyprus became a Crown Colony. During the Second World War, Cypriot volunteers served in the British forces. Hopes for self-determination by the Cypriot people however, were denied by the British, who considered the island strategically vital. A national liberation struggle began in 1955 against Colonial rule and for the union of Cyprus with Greece, which lasted until 1959. The Zurich-London Agreements led to the establishment of the independent Republic of Cyprus. On December 13, 1959 Archbishop Makarios III was elected first President of the Republic and Dr Fazil Kutchuk first Vice President.

1960-The Republic of Cyprus
Cyprus became an independent Republic in 1960, and a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement. Britain, however retained two sovereign bases. In 1964, UN peacekeeping forces arrive in Cyprus, following intercommunal clashes. In July 1974, Turkish forces invaded and occupied the northern third of the island (37%), where they remain to this day. Despite the many continuing humanitarian, social, and economic consequences, Cyprus today is a modern society with a robust and healthy economy. In May 2004, the Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the European Union, adding its own uniqueness to the mosaic and serving as the European Union’s lighthouse in the eastern Mediterranean. The island and the Cypriot people stand as a beacon for closer cooperation, understanding, and dialogue with the countries and people in its immediate neighborhood and wider region.

Strategically located, Cyprus continues to have a rich historical maritime tradition. Today, its merchant fleet is the third largest in the European Union and tenth largest worldwide. On January 1, 2008, Cyprus introduced the euro as its official currency, replacing the Cyprus pound, while it is home to many international companies that use Cyprus as a springboard to the surrounding regions and further afield.

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