The history of North Cyprus is a captivating tale of invasions, empires, and cultural amalgamation. This Mediterranean island has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous civilizations, each leaving an indelible mark on its landscape and people.

The Rich Tapestry of North Cyprus: A Historical Overview

The Dawn of Civilization

The earliest traces of human activity in Cyprus date back to around 8,500 – 8,000 BC, with hunter-gatherers roaming its terrains. The first settlers, known as the Khirokitians, established themselves between 7,000 – 5,300 BC. The island then transitioned into the Chalcolithic or Copper Age around 4,000 – 2,500 BC, marked by the crafting of stone crucifix pendants.

Bronze Age to Hellenistic Era

The Cypriot Bronze Ages, spanning from 2,700 – 1,050 BC, saw the introduction of cattle, horses, and a distinctive pottery style. The Late Bronze Age was characterized by literate city-states like Enkomi-Alasia and Kition. The island then came under the influence of various empires, including the Hittites, Egyptians, and Persians. The Hellenistic period, from 333 – 58 BC, began with the heirs of Alexander the Great establishing their dominion over Cyprus.

Roman to Byzantine Rule

From 58 BC to 395 AD, the Roman Empire brought a prolonged period of prosperity to Cyprus. Following the division of the Roman Empire, Cyprus became part of the Byzantine Empire. This era, lasting from 395 – 649 AD, saw the island’s conversion from paganism to Orthodox Christianity.

Medieval Intrigues

The subsequent centuries were tumultuous, with Cyprus caught between the Byzantine and Islamic empires. The island returned to Byzantine control from 965 – 1191. However, the end of the 12th century saw Richard I of England and the Knights Templars briefly ruling Cyprus. The Frankish Lusignan Dynasty then took over from 1192 – 1489, followed by Venetian domination until 1570.

Ottoman to British Era

The Ottoman Empire annexed Cyprus in 1571, marking the beginning of a four-century-long rule. In 1878, as part of a defense alliance, the administration of Cyprus transitioned to Britain. The island officially became a British Crown Colony in 1925.

Modern Times

The 20th century was a period of significant political changes for Cyprus. In 1960, the Republic of Cyprus was founded by both Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities. However, inter-communal strife in 1963 led to the collapse of the constitutional rule. A coup d’etat in 1974 by Greek army officers aiming for union with Greece resulted in a Turkish military intervention. This intervention led to the division of the island into Turkish-Cypriot North and Greek-Cypriot South. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was established.

The turn of the century saw attempts at unification, with dialogues and negotiations taking place between 2002-3. In 2003, after 30 years, borders between the North and South opened. 2004 was a pivotal year, with twin referendums on unifying the island under the UN Annan’s Plan. While Turkish-Cypriots accepted the plan, Greek-Cypriots rejected it. Consequently, only the Greek-Cypriot Southern Cyprus became a member of the EU.

The history of North Cyprus is a testament to its resilience and adaptability. Despite the challenges, the island remains a beacon of cultural heritage and historical significance in the Mediterranean.