Cyprus History, Culture, Customs and Traditions, Religion, Languages

Cyprus History

The Republic of Cyprus  is a country belonging to Europe, whose capital is  Nicosia . It has a population of 1 million inhabitants (158º) and an area of ​​9,251 km 2 (162º). Its human development index is very high (32º) and its official currency is the Euro. 

A clear, simple and brief review of the history of Cyprus, an island in the south of Turkey.


The first people in Cyprus were stone age farmers around 8,000 BC By 4,000 BC they were already making pottery and copper tools. By 2,500 BC the people of Cyprus had learned to make bronze.

Cypriot society gradually became more sophisticated from 1,600 BC A form of writing was invented. A highly civilized society emerged in Cyprus with many cities and palaces. Trade with other parts of the Mediterranean flourished and contact with other civilizations was common.

After 800 BC, a series of great empires arose in the Middle East. The first was the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians never conquered Cyprus, but they forced their rulers to pay tribute for a short period, from 708 BC to 669 BC.

Then, in 545 BC, Cyprus was forced to submit to the rule of the Persians. The Persians, in turn, were overthrown by the Greeks led by Alexander the Great after 333 BC. When Alexander died in 323 his empire was divided among his generals. One of them, named Ptolemy, seized Egypt .

After a period of fighting, he and his successors came to rule Cyprus and Greek culture became dominant on the island. However, a new power emerged – Rome . The Romans took Cyprus in 58 BC and it was integrated into the Roman Empire.

Christianity was introduced to Cyprus by two men named Paul and Barnabas around AD 45. Then, in the 4th century AD, the Roman Empire split into two parts: East and West. Cyprus became part of the Eastern Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire in the west fell in AD 476, the eastern part continued. It is known to us as the Byzantine Empire .


Under Byzantine rule , Cyprus prospered despite Arab raids between the 7th and 10th centuries. However, by the 12th century the Byzantine Empire was declining.

In 1184 a Byzantine prince named Comnenus declared Cyprus independent from the rest of the empire. However, independence did not last long. In 1191 Richard I, King of England , captured Cyprus. He sold it to a Frenchman named Guy de Lusignan.

The Lusignans ruled Cyprus for 3 centuries. Cyprus became a feudal kingdom where a Catholic elite ruled over the Orthodox majority. However, in the 14th century the Italian cities of Genoa and Venice became increasingly wealthy and powerful, threatening the independence of Cyprus.

In 1425 the Mamluks from Egypt attacked Cyprus. Finally a king of Cyprus married a Venetian woman. The king died leaving the queen as sole ruler of Cyprus. In 1489 she was persuaded to abdicate and Cyprus came under direct Venetian rule. However, the Ottoman Turks were now the emerging power in the Mediterranean. In 1571 they conquered Cyprus.


At first, the majority of Cypriots welcomed the Turkish regime , which preferred it to the oppressive Venetian regime . The feudal system was abolished and the Turks respected the Orthodox Church. However, the plague struck Cyprus at intervals and eventually there were rebellions against Turkish rule .

In the 19th century, Great Britain became a superpower. In 1875 the Suez Canal was opened and Britain was eager to protect the route to India . In 1878 the British were allowed to occupy and administer Cyprus (although Turkey was still technically sovereign).

However, in 1914 the Turks joined the German side in World War I and Britain formally annexed Cyprus. In 1925 Cyprus became a British Crown colony.

However, the Orthodox Greek Cypriots now demanded enosis (union with Greece ) and in 1931 riots broke out. During World War II many Cypriots fought for the British . However, when peace came, the Orthodox Greek Cypriots again demanded union with Greece . The Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, wanted the British rule to continue.


In 1955 a Greek Cypriot organization called EOKA started a series of bombings in Cyprus. In 1958 a Turkish organization called TMT was formed and intercommunal fighting began. Finally, in 1960, Cyprus gained independence. Archbishop Makarios was elected president.

However, in 1963 the Greeks proposed changes to the constitution. The Turks refused and there was more intercommunal fighting. In 1964 the United Nations sent a peacekeeping force to Cyprus. However, no solution was found and in April 1974 hard-line Greeks staged a coup.

Archbishop Makarios was overthrown and fled abroad. As a result, in July 1974, the Turkish forces invaded northern Cyprus. The island was divided. Refugees from both sides crossed the border between the two parts of Cyprus. Meanwhile, the hardliners fell from power and in December 1974 Archbishop Makarios returned from exile. He died in 1977.

In 1975, the Turkish section called itself the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and it seemed that some kind of federation of the two parties would be possible. However, in 1983, the Turkish section of Cyprus declared its full independence. It called itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.


The two sections of Cyprus remained separate and in 2004 the Southern (Greek) Republic of Cyprus joined the EU. However, in 2008 Cyprus joined the euro. As a result, Cyprus suffered a severe economic crisis in 2013. However, the economy is growing again. At present, the population of the whole of Cyprus is 1.2 million.


Cyprus has two official languages :

  • The Greek, spoken by 80.9% of Cypriots in the Greek Cypriot variant.
  • The Turkish spoken by 0.2% of the population, also in his Turkish Cypriot variant.

Other minority languages are English (4.1%), Romanian (2.9%), Russian (2.5%), Bulgarian (2.2%), Arabic (1.2%) and Filipino (1.1 %).

Regarding foreign languages , the most learned are: English (76%), French (12%) and German (5%).

Note: In Cyprus there is a delicate situation, since the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (with disputed sovereignty) declared itself independent in 1983, only being accepted by Turkey and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. In this region there is only one official language, Turkish. All the data shown on this page excludes this Turkish Cypriot population , as the Cypriot government lacks census control over this area.


The Cypriot Greek ( κυπριακά ) is a modern Greek dialect, spoken by about 700,000 people . This is just a dialect used in everyday language, since standard modern Greek is used officially. It has numerous loanwords from Cypriot Turkish (and vice versa). Modern Standard Greek is also used in education since the late 19th century, and is the language of the media (albeit in a recognizable Cypriot form).


The Cyprus Turkish ( Kıbrıs Türkçesi ) is a dialect of Turkish, spoken by a small part of Cyprus (0.2%). Originating in Anatolia, it has evolved over centuries. It is the vernacular of the Cypriots with ancestors from the Ottoman Empire, as well as of the Cypriots who converted to Islam during the Ottoman era. Apart from Cypriot Greek, it has influences from Italian and English. It is intelligible with standard Turkish.


The level of English in Cyprus is high (higher than many European countries). English is present in traffic signs, public notes, in advertising, etc. This is due to British heritage, as it was the only official language during their British colonial days until 1960, and it continued to be the language in the courts until 1989. Up to 76% of the population speaks English , and it is compulsory taught from the age of 9.



A look at the customs and traditions that exist in Cyprus, an island country in southeastern Europe.


Fresh salad and plain yogurt accompany most meals, which typically consist of vegetables cooked in various ways and include what both communities know as yahni (with olive oil, tomatoes, and onions).

When people eat out, they often order “meze,” a large collection of small plates that start with various sauces and salads and end with grilled meat or fish.


Whereas a significant proportion of marriages were arranged (often by the father) half a decade ago, this has largely disappeared, although parents can still exercise strong control and influence over marriage choices.

Most people consider getting married to be the normal course of action, so the vast majority do get married; those who are not often seen as eccentric or unlucky, or both.

Whereas the provision of a dowry was previously considered mandatory, mostly for women, parents still believe that they should provide as much financial support as possible for their children when they marry. Ideally, the parents hope to provide the newly married couple with a fully furnished home and other basic necessities, such as a car or two.


Cyprus as a whole could be characterized as a fairly informal place. People come into physical contact easily and casually, and personal space is generally not rigidly marked.

There are more formal and polite ways of addressing older people that are employed in particular circumstances (for example, towards older people or in a professional situation), but the absence of entrenched historical hierarchies and strong class distinctions allows exchanges newspapers proceed in a mostly casual manner.

Because both companies are small, individuals often know many of the people they come in contact with, thus reducing the need for paperwork. Visitors from the larger Western countries often comment that Cyprus seems to be a place where “everyone knows each other”, or even “where everyone is related to each other.”


The vast majority of Greek Cypriots are Greek Orthodox, while the majority of Turkish Cypriots are Sunni Muslims.


Secular celebrations are mostly national commemorations of historical events, including those in Cyprus itself and those in Greece (for Greek Cypriots) or Turkey (for Turkish Cypriots).

The main secular celebrations of the Greek Cypriots are the following: March 25: Greek National Day (commemorating the beginning of the struggle for independence from the Ottomans in Greece in 1821); April 1: Anniversary of EOKA (commemoration of the beginning of the Greek Cypriot anti-colonial struggle in 1955 by the National Organization of Cypriot Combatants (EOKA)).

October 1: Independence Day (commemoration of the creation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960); October 28: IHO (NO) Day (commemorating Greece’s refusal to surrender to Germany in 1940, leading to Greece’s involvement in WWII).

The main secular celebrations of the Turkish Cypriots are: May 19: Youth and Sports Day; July 20: Peace and Freedom Day (in commemoration of the Turkish military intervention in Cyprus from July 20, 1974); August 1: Community Resistance Day (commemorating the founding of the Turkish Resistance Organization [TMT] in 1958, also commemorating the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus and Armed Forces Day).

August 30: Victory Day (anniversary of the victory of the Turkish army in 1922 against the Greeks, which led to the emergence of an independent Turkish state); October 29: Turkish National Day (commemorating the creation of the State of Turkey in 1923); November 15: Independence Day (unilateral declaration of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as an independent state in 1983).

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