Cyprus Holidays Guide

History of the Division of Cyprus

Cyprus History
Before BC
4500BC - 30BC
Roman Period
30BC - 330AD
Byzantine Period
330 - 1191
Frankish Period
1191 - 1489
Venetian Period
1489 - 1571
Ottoman Period
1571 - 1878
British Period
1878 - 1960
Collapse of Constitution
Division of the Island
Current Period
Division of the Island (1974)

In the 10 years following the collapse of constitution life in Cyprus was difficult. Makarios still presided over the country, but his relationship with Greek Cypriots and with Greece herself gradually soured. Unimpressed with the reigning government's ability to fight for Cypriot independence and eventual unity with Greece, a Greek-backed military junta seized control of Cyprus in a coup that installed Nicos Sampson as President in Nicosia. Makarios escaped and fled to Britain.

Fearing the strength of Greek nationalism on the island Turkey responded to the coup, invading Cyprus from the North in July 1974. Just as the Ottoman Empire had done some 400 years before, Turkish troops rolled into Nicosia, this time in tanks. The invasion force secured roughly one-third of the island that summer, while the Greek-sponsored military coup collapsed leaving a power vacuum on the island. Naturally, the Greeks condemned the invasion, but the exposed Turkish Cypriot communities welcomed the security that the invasion brought to their lives.

In the days that followed events moved quickly. Several rounds of diplomatic talks were commenced to try and resolve the situation, but they were to no avail. Neither side could agree on an arrangement that was deemed fair and acceptable, and so the Turks declared the zone they had occupied as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus - an illegal occupation in the eyes of the Greek Cypriots. Frustrated at the situation a mass exodus of Greek Cypriots left Northern Cyprus for the Greek-controlled South. This was followed several months later by a similar exodus of Turkish Cypriots to the North, thus polarising ethnic groups on the island to create the division that is apparent in Cyprus today.

UN troops now control the partition between the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek-controlled South. This buffer zone runs from Morphou in the west of the island, through Central Nicosia and out to Famagusta in the east. The streets of Famagusta today lay dormant and decaying - a tragic state of affairs for a city that was once the glittering prize of the known world.

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