Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, Cyprus has been a meeting point for civilizations over the centuries. The birthplace of Venus is the easternmost island of the Mediterranean and has faced numerous conquerors in its long history, adapting each time to the new elements, but always maintaining its original cultural background. Cyprus has been a center of Hellenism in time with its own particular characteristics and attributes.
The oldest evidence of human presence on the island dates back to 10,000 BC and the neolithic period. In 1571 the Ottomans invaded Cyprus and Nicosia fell to their power after a six-week long siege, while Famagusta fought back for 11 months under the commands of Venetian Marc Antonio Bragadin before falling to the Ottoman commander Lala Mustafa. When the Ottomans entered the city, they flayed him and stuffed his skin with straw. Thus, Cyprus became part of the Ottoman Empire and its relations to Europe were suspended.
In 1878 the then-British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli forced the Sultan to grant Cyprus to Britain in exchange for protection of the Empire from the expansion politics of the Russian tsarist empire.
In 1955 the Greek-Cypriots revolted against the Βritish colonial powers after long but unsuccessful peaceful negotiations to form an independent sovereign country. The fight against the colonial rule ended in 1959 with the London and Zurich Agreements for the Constitution of Cyprus signed between the British, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.
Cyprus became an independent Republic on Aug. 16, 1960, and the Turkish-Cypriot community comprising 18% of the total population was offered cultural and religious autonomy. In November 1963, Archbishop Makarios, the first President of the Republic, made proposals to amend the Constitution and make it more effective, but Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership rejected the proposals.
On July 15, 1974, the military junta ruling Greece at the time, egged on by circles in NATO, staged a coup to bring down the elected government of Cyprus. On July 20, Turkey invaded Cyprus under the guise of restoring constitutional order in the insular country. The Turkish army forces took over and now occupy 36.2% of the northern part of the island, an action internationally condemned as an open violation of the UN Charter and international law.
In April 2004, 75.83% of the Greek-Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan, the UN proposal to solve the Cyprus dispute, while 24.17% voted for it in a referendum favored by the Turkish side. On May 1, 2004, Cyprus officially became a full Member-State of the EU. On Jan, 1, 2008, Cyprus adopted the common currency of the Euro.
In 2011 drilling began offshore Cyprus with natural gas reserves proving particularly rich in the blocks surrounding the island. On June 25, 2012, Cyprus officially asked the European Member States for a bailout of its banking system. Then President Demetris Christofias, a Communist, resisted demands for austerity and a confiscation tax on bank depositors but didn’t run for re-election after he failed in his self-appointed mission of trying to reunify the island. He received much of the blame for the banks failures.
In March, 2013, the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) forced newly-elected President Nicos Anastasiades, who had campaigned against seizing bank deposits, to accept a plan where the government would take up to 80 percent of the money in uninsured bank accounts to trigger a 10 billion euros ($13 billion) bailout.
That came with other attached conditions, including capital controls on withdrawals amid predictions by many economic analysts that the conditions, along with other austerity measures, would plunge the island into a deep and prolonged recession as has happened in Greece during its economic crisis.
EU/IMF/ECB imposed an all-out haircut on Cypriot deposits bringing people out in the streets protesting against the extremely harsh measures.