Cyprus History

Cyprus history dates back to around 10,000 BC, at least in terms of the earliest known human activity. The artifacts that were unearthed on the southern coast support this claim, and they also indicate that the early settlers didn't exactly settle. Instead, they were hunters and gatherers who moved around according to their needs. The first settled communities on the island of Cyprus started to spring up near the coasts around 8,000 BC, and they were usually built on the sides of hills or mountains overlooking the sea. Waves of incoming settlers eventually influenced Cyprus culture after the early settlers established their farming-based communities, though the early way of life has managed to survive to some degree, linking many a modern-day Cypriot to his or her ancestral roots.

Cyprus is full of fascinating archaeological sites, and they include the ancient ruins at Choirokoitia. This site near Larnaca dates back to around 6,800 BC and is one of the island's earliest permanent settlements. UNESCO designated Choirokoitia a World Heritage Site, and while little remains of the small and round stone homes that were built here, the ruins can more than satisfy the historical or archaeological buff. Interestingly enough, the village that was Choirokoitia was abandoned around 6,000 BC. According to many scholars, Cyprus history was essentially put on hold for the next 1,500 years, as it appears that it took that long for human activity to recommence on the island.

After Cyprus was apparently abandoned for a while, human activity began again. The new settlers were known for their pottery and ceramics. As the Bronze Age began around 2,300 BC, residents had little contact with outside cultures, though that started to change once copper was found in the mountains of the Troodos Range. With their impressive copper reserves and their attractive ceramics, the Cyprus natives from this time were able to start trading with people from places such as Greece and Egypt. Greek-speaking settlers started to populate the island around 1200 BC, and this certainly left its mark on Cyprus culture. The southern region of the country remains Greek in character. The Cyprus language, at least in the southern region, is Greek, while it is Turkish in the North Cyprus region. As for religion in Cyprus, the Greek-speaking Cypriots are linked to the Greek Orthodox Church via the Cypriot Orthodox Church, while the bulk of the residents in North Cyprus are Sunni Muslims.

Cyprus is essentially split in half, and the "Green Line" that divides the Turkish and Greek sides is something of relative dispute. To cross this border of sorts, you must stop at specific check points, such as one found in the capital city of Nicosia. Long before the island was split after the 1974 invasion of the Turkish Army, waves of cultures had passed through, hoping to take a piece of Cyprus for themselves. This includes the Romans, who eventually gave way to the Byzantine. In 1191 AD, Richard the Lionheart, or the first king of England as he was, took control of the island, though he quickly sold it to a French-speaking, Lusignan king from Jerusalem. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Cyprus started to prosper under Lusignan rule. The North Cyprus city of Famagusta was the main city on the island during this golden age, and it retains historical relics to prove it. These relics include the Famagusta Cathedral. This glorious structure is the finest example of the Lusignan Gothic style of architecture in all of Cyprus, and it dominates the Old City skyline.

Numerous historical attractions offer insight into Cyprus history, and they include the ruins at Kourion. This ancient city was likely founded in Neolithic times, and the Romans found it to be useful upon arrival. The rebuilt Greco-Roman amphitheater is testament to that. In Nicosia, more historical attractions can be found, and they include the Selimiye Mosque. Originally consecrated as a church in the 1300s, this old building was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman Invasion of the 1570s. The Ottomans wrestled the island from the Venetians in the late 1500s, and they managed to hold onto it for around 300 years. Then came the British, who were more welcomed by the Greek Cypriots than the Turkish ones. The British managed to influence Cyprus culture during their relatively brief period of dominion, though a new republic was to be born in 1960. This was the year that independence was declared and the flag of Cyprus was created.

The Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots were left to make sense of their new republic once it was created, and this did not exactly lead to positive things. Early on, the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the government, and it became evident that things would only get worse. When the Turkish Army invaded the island in 1974, it was then that the line between the two sides was officially drawn. Cyprus culture remains largely Turkish in the north and predominantly Greek in the south. Thankfully, relations between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots have improved over the years, and it appears that things will only get better. A positive relationship between the two sides would fall into line with the design of the flag of Cyprus. This flag depicts the country's shape via a small map, and the map is underlined by two olive branches. Together with the white backdrop, the olive branches are a symbol of peace. The message of peace that the flag of Cyprus conveys is one that most Cypriots embrace, regardless of which side they find themselves on.

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