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Cyprus

In 1923, under treaty, Turkey renounced all claims to the island, and in 1925, it was declared a British crown colony. Accepting that relationship, at least on the surface, many Greek Cypriots fought in the British Army during World War II.

Like in most of their colonies, British rule brought prosperity, but still the Greek Cypriots wanted a union with Greece and scattered rebellions were the result.

In 1955 an underground terrorist campaign was organized against British rule, and as it began to get out of control the British brought in a much stronger military force to end the conflict.

This proved to be a disastrous decision as it further aggravated the Greek Cypriots. Soon riots sprang up across the island, civil war was on the horizon, and the minority Turkish population retreated into their own enclave.

In 1957 Cyprus begged the UN for help but that didn't work so well. Regardless, in 1960, Cyprus declared itself independent from all parties, and Archbishop Makarios was declared the first President.

In August of 1964 Turkey launched air strikes against Cyprus, and in the same year, UN troops were finally dispatched to the island in an attempt to keep the peace between the two communities - and they have been there ever since.

Then came a military junta and the obligatory coup d'├ętat, the President was replaced and Turkey launched a full-scale military invasion of the island in 1974. The Turkish air force bombed Greek positions and Turkish paratroopers seized many cities.

The Greek Cypriots were too weak (militarily) to resist the Turkish advance, and by the time a cease fire took hold, a large slice of northern Cyprus was already taken over by the Turks and 180,000 Greek Cypriots were evicted from their homes, with no choice but to move south.

Well, this was a new housing opportunity in the making, so an estimated 50,000 Turks moved into the northern areas (then under the control) of the Turkish Forces and settled (without an invitation) in the properties of the displaced Greek Cypriots. Oh, what a happy day.

Now with the Turks in the north, Greeks in the south, and Ledra Street in Nicosia as the dividing line of the so-called (buffer zone) between the two parties, things were surely going to get better. Not.

On the Turkish side there was razor wire, minefields and watch-towers, and some formerly Greek inhabited places were now ghost towns as most Greek refugees had fled to the south.

Turkey moved in more settlers in the north, and reports surfaced regarding the widespread plunder and destruction of ancient Greek archaeological sites.

Young Turks were now tired of war, and saw very little future on the island. As the economy on the Turkish side continued to decline, the youth emigrated back to Turkey, or to Europe and the USA.

The UN declared 1997 to be the 'Year of Cyprus.' This was in recognition of the island's dubious status as one of the World's real trouble spots, and for next few years the back and forth rancor continued.

The Annan Plan of 2004 was a United Nations proposal to settle continuing disputes on the divided island. It would reunite the South with the North as the United Cyprus Republic. It was summarily rejected by the Greek side.

On May 1, 2004 Cyprus joined the European Union together with nine other countries. In 2008 the UN encouraged the Greek and Turkish sides to reopen unification negotiations.

In March 2008, a boundary wall on Ledra Street in Nicosia was demolished; a wall that was seen as a strong symbol of the island's 32-year division. One month later Ledra Street was reopened in the presence of Greek and Turkish Cypriot officials.

If the island of Cyprus is to refresh its reputation around the world, the Greek and Turkish leaders are going to have to make some very courageous decisions because they share one small island.

Somehow this ancient island of sunny weather and fascinating history has survived, and with some of the most popular beaches in Europe, travelers do journey to Cyprus in large numbers.

About Cyprus

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This page was last updated on July 12, 2016.