Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located in the eastern part of the sea just 75 kilometers away from Turkey. The southern part
of the island (about 60%) belongs to the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union, the northern part of the island (about 38%) belongs to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the rest of the island belongs to the military bases of the United Kingdom.
Civilization was born in Cyprus over 9000 years ago. However, the main stage in the development of the island began in the XII - XI centuries BC. upon arrival of the Greek colonists to Cyprus. They founded many cities and brought Greek art, religion and language here.
Cyprus was an extremely attractive land for other Mediterranean countries because of its rich forests and copper deposits. In 333 BC the island was conquered by Alexander the Great. Then from 58 BC until 330 AD Cyprus was a part of the Roman Empire. During this period, Cyprus became the first country to be ruled by Christians. Later on Cyprus became a part of the Byzantine Empire, and during this time, many magnificent churches and monasteries were built here. In the XII century, during the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionheart captured the beautiful Cyprus and sold it to the Knight Templar Order.
In XV-XVI centuries, Venetians used the island as a bastion to protect against the Ottomans. They built fortresses in Famagusta, Kyrenia and Nicosia. However, in 1570, the Turks nevertheless occupied the island and it remained the part of the Ottoman Empire until 1914. Many churches were converted into mosques during this period. For example, the Gothic Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Famagusta was turned into a mosque named after the Turkish general Pasha Lala Mustafa who conquered Cyprus. The Ottoman system of additional taxes for Christians was also introduced at that time. It contributed to a widespread conversion to Islam. In addition, Turkish and Greek populations had their own separate government systems. In an effort to prevent the growing influence of the Catholic Church related to Europe, the Ottomans contributed to the separation and strengthening of the position of the Cypriot Orthodox Church.
In 1869, Cyprus gained increased strategic importance due to the opening of the Suez Canal. It became especially attractive for the UK because of the location on the way to India. As a result of an agreement with Turkey in 1925, Cyprus became a British colony. Cyprus gained independence only in 1960 after four years of war. In 1974, after the military coup followed by the invasion of Turkish troops, the island was divided into northern and southern parts. In 1983, the Turkish northern part of the island declared independence from Cyprus and changed its name to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In 1985 republic adopted the new constitution.
Now, the majority of the Greek Cypriots live in the southern part and the Turkish Cypriots in the northern part of the island. There is the UN buffer zone in-between Greek and Turkish territories. The population of Cyprus is about 1 million people, and Northern Cyprus is home to about 300. 000 people.
The capital of the Northern Cyprus is Nicosia, and major cities are Famagusta, Kyrenia and Guzelyurt. Famagusta and Kyrenia cities attract thousands of visitors interested in the historical and cultural attractions. The world-famous Castle Othello (XIV-XV centuries) where the Venetian commander Christopher Moreau lived is located in Famagusta. Besides, there are such important historical sites in the city as gothic Cathedral of St. Nicholas and gothic Church of St. Peter and Paul, Ganchvor Armenian monastery as well as the palace and bastion made in the Renaissance style. Moreover, there are the ruins of the Hellenistic buildings of the ancient city nearby. The main attraction of the Kyrenia city is the Bellapais Abbey, a monument of Gothic architecture built by the Crusaders in the XIII century. Another attraction of the city, The Kyrenia Castle built by the Venetians in the XVI century, is located in the eastern part of the old harbor.
Turkish Cypriots are Muslims, but there are not only mosques on the Northern part of the island. The Cyprus Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, Anglican Church and Protestant Church are all represented here.
Tolerant attitude towards representatives of other cultures and religions, mild warm climate, beautiful nature, good infrastructure and an abundance of historical sites attract to Cyprus many tourists as well as people looking for permanent residence.
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