History of Cyprus - The Island of Aphrodite
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, but its actual size is less important than its position. Its size is in fact 3,572 square miles, which makes it smaller than either Sicily or Sardinia but its history has been shaped not so much by its dimensions as its unique position in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is on the doorstep of Asia only 76 miles Syria, 43 miles from Turkey and 270 miles from Rhodes. Its shape and situation have made it a natural target for traders, settlers, colonists and strategists of many nations for many centuries, since the first sailors discovered it was accessible, fertile and possible to defend.
As far as we know the first people who lived in Cyprus were much the same as those in Asia minor, on the nearest main land opposite the north coast. All through history, Kings, soldiers and merchants have conquered islands as millionaires collect money and since Cyprus was not only accessible but beautiful and rich as well, it has been collected, settled in, bought for, loved and bullied, bought and sold, bribed and threatened from every direction for three thousand years. The first collector was the Egyptian Pharaoh Tohmes III around the middle of the fifteenth century B.C. Around this time Mycenean - Greek traders settled on the island.
Around the end of the second millenium more Greeks arrived and settled in Cyprus and the island seems to have been divided up into and astonishing number of small city states, each with its own king, like Salamis, Paphos, Curium, Kition, The most notable Kings in Cyprus during this period were Teucer, brother of Ajax who came from the Greek island of Salamis and called his Cyprus Kingdom, outside Famagusta, by the same name, and Kinyras of Paphos who was kindly spoken by Homer and the Greek poet Pindare. Meanwhile, the original inhabitants of the island, now known as Eteocyprians, took themselves into the interior of the island in cities of their own like Amathus, near Lemesos (Limassol). The Eteocyprians in their early days had worshipped a goddess of fertility. When the Greeks came this figure was transformed into their goddess of love, Aphrodite. Apollo was also worshipped but Aphrodite became a kind of patron saint of the island with sanctuaries dedicated to her in every corner and her temple in old Paphos became famous throughout Greece. She became associated with Cyprus so much that the legend was born of Paphos as her birthplace, where she first rose from the sea and festivals were held in her honor.
When the Romans came later they continued the worship of Aphrodite under the Roman name of Venus. They rebuilt the temple at Paphos and produced coins of it which circulated round the Mediterranean Cyprus and Aphrodite amalgamated and Cyprus was called the "Island of Aphrodite".
In 1960 Cyprus became an independent country after many adventures and occupations and was later admitted to the U.N. and became a member of the British Commonwealth and of the Council of Europe.
The complicated constitutional provisions were such that difficulties immediately arose in the functioning of the state.
On December 21, 1963, fighting broke out in Nicosia and later to the rest of the Island between the communities of Greeks and Turks which make up the main population of Cyprus. In August 1964 the Turkish Air Force bombed Greek Cypriot patrol boats and villages in Tylliria and Turkey threatened to invade the Island in defense of the Turkish Cypriots. In July 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus and occupied 37% of the extent of Cyprus. Two hundred thousand Greek Cypriots became refugees in their country. The Turkish troops are still in Cyprus and they do not permit the Greek Cypriot refugees to return to their towns, villages and their homes.
Many resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly and of the Security Council demand the withdrawal from Cyprus of all the Turkish troops, other than those authorized under the original terms of the constitution.
The people of Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, hope that eventually the principals and the human rights which are in force all over the world shall be adjusted and be put in force in Cyprus and the International Community shall then give to the people of Cyprus the fundamental rights which every human being in the world is entitled to.