Cyprus is may be a small country, but it's a large island - the third largest in the Mediterranean. And it's an island with a big heart - an island that gives its visitors a genuine welcome and treats them as friends.
History in Cyprus dates as far back as 7000 BC, the Neolithic Age, with settlements along the north and south coasts of the island.
After1400 BC, the first Greeks came to the island, Mycenaen merchants, who started the Hellenisation of the island.
By 1050 BC Cyprus can be considered a Greek island, with the language, culture and religion of Greece well established. Cyprus has ten city-kingdoms and by 800 BC it is a flourishing and prosperous country.
From 750 BC Cyprus is conquered several times by Assyria, Egypt and Persia. In 333 BC Alexander the Great claims Cyprus for part of his empire. Cyprus continues to be part of the Hellenist Empire until 58 BC.
In 58 BC Cyprus becomes part of the Roman Empire. Saint Paul is converted to Christianity whilst in Cyprus and Cyprus becomes the first country governed by a Christian.
After the division of the Roman Empire Cyprus becomes part of Byzantium, with Constantinople as its capital. In 1191 AD Cyprus is defeated by the crusader Richard the Lionheart. The island is then sold to the Knights Templar, who resell it to Guy de Lusignan. From 1192 to 1489 Cyprus is ruled under a feudal system and Catholicism becomes the official religion.
In 1489 control of the island passes to the Venetians who takes steps to fortify the island and build walls around the towns of Nicosia and Famagusta.
In 1571 Ottoman troops invades the island and Cyprus becomes part of the Ottoman Empire. Islam is introduced to the island and Catholicism is expelled. The Greek Orthodox religion is restored.
IN1878, under the Cyprus Convention, Britain assumes administration of the island although it remains part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1914 however, when the Ottomans entered the 1st World War on the side of the Germans, Britain annexed the island. In 1923 Turkey relinquishes all rights to Cyprus and in 1925 Cyprus is declared a Crown colony.
An armed struggle breaks out in 1955 against colonial rule, which lasts until 1960 when the island is granted independence.
In 1963 Turkish-Cypriot ministers withdraw from the Government in protest at proposed changes to the Constitution and Turkey threatens to invade.
In 1974 the Greek junta instigates a coup in Cyprus against the Cypriot Government and Turkey uses that as an excuse and invades the island.
Turkish Cypriots proclaimed a separate state under Rauf Denktash in the northern part of the island on Nov. 15, 1983, naming it the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” The UN Security Council, in its Resolution 541 of Nov. 18, 1983, declared this action illegal and called for withdrawal. No country except Turkey has recognized this entity.
In 1988, George Vassiliou, a conservative and critic of UN proposals to reunify Cyprus, became president. The purchase of missiles capable of reaching the Turkish coast evoked threats of retaliation from Turkey in 1997, and Cyprus's plans to deploy more missiles in Aug. 1999 again raised Turkey's ire.
In Dec. 2002, the EU invited Cyprus to join in 2004, provided the UN plan was accepted by February 2003. Without reunification, only Greek Cyprus was to be welcomed into the EU. But just weeks before the UN deadline, President Kleridas was defeated by right-wing candidate Tassos Papadopoulos, a hard-liner on reunification. The UN deadline passed, and the UN declared that the talks had failed. In April 2004, dual referendums were held, with the Greek side overwhelmingly rejecting the most recent UN reunification plan, and the Turkish side voting in favor. In May, Greek Cyprus alone became a part of the EU.
Cyprus with its spectacular scenery and enviable climate, it's no wonder that Aphrodite chose the island as her playground, and since then, mere mortals have been discovering this 'land fit for Gods' for themselves.
Cyprus is an island of beauty and a country of contrasts. Cool, pine-clad mountains are a complete scene-change after golden sun-kissed beaches. Tranquil, timeless villages are in striking contrast to modern cosmopolitan towns; luxurious beachside hotels can be exchanged for large areas of natural unspoiled countryside; yet in Cyprus all distances are easily manageable, mostly on modern roads and highways - with a secondary route or two for the more adventurous.
Most important of all, the Cyprus island offers peace of mind. At a time when holidays are clouded by safety consciousness, a feeling of security prevails everywhere since the crime level is so low as to be practically non-existent.
Cyprus’ colourful history is reflected in the rich cultural life in Cyprus today. Almost every week there is some sort of celebration, a festival, a wedding or a saint’s day (which are celebrated instead of birthdays).
Religious festivals are particularly significant in Cyprus and none more so than the Greek Orthodox Easter. This is the highlight of the religious year and is considered more important than Christmas. On Easter Saturday most Cypriots will be found in the church, attending midnight mass. There is a bonfire with an effigy of Judas outside the church and also fireworks. On Easter Sunday families sit down together to eat the traditional roast lamb lunch.
Springtime is also festival time with all the major towns hosting carnival parades. There are flower festivals with parades of flower-covered floats. The largest carnival is in Limassol, with its many floats, parades and other entertainment.
Kataklysmos is another important festival - the festival of the flood- and there are celebrations in every town, with open-air fetes, games and competitions.
Harvest time is time for the wine festivals, the largest being held in Limassol. Every year thousands of visitors go to the festival to enjoy the large range of food and wine on offer.
Whatever the season Cyprus never disappoints nature lovers. The mild climate allows visitors to enjoy the unique flora and fauna of this east Mediterranean island all year round. Visitors with an interest in geology may also make some interesting discoveries.