Facts about Cyprus

Area: 9,251 sq km
Capital: Nicosia
Language: Greek, Turkish
Currency: Euro
  Turkish Lira
Population: 784,301
Coastline: 648 sq km

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Venetian Rule

CyprusThe Venetians wanted Cyprus for purely mercenary reasons. Its strategic position made it an ideal point from which Venice could dominate all eastern trade routes, and the island was a rich source of good timber for shipbuilding. To protect their asset, an immediate plan of heavy re-fortification took place. The mountain castles were dismantled to prevent them being used by any internal insurgent force and the major cities were redeveloped by the finest military architects in anticipation of attack from the Ottomans.

After coming to power in Cyprus the Venetians had continued to pay dues to the Mameluke Egyptians; however after the Egyptians had been conquered by the Ottomans, taxes were paid to Constantinople. It became increasingly obvious that the Ottomans would endeavor to conquer Cyprus and all possible measures were taken to prevent this happening.

The walls around the cities of Nicosia and Famagusta are strong testament to the talent of their military engineers and architects. The Venetians erected huge earthworks with dressed stone facings, interspersed at intervals with bastions from which to direct their cannon power.

Ottoman Invasion

All their efforts eventually proved in vain, when after almost eighty years, in which building work had been the main project, the Ottomans landed at Larnaca in 1570. These forces, led by Lala Mustafa Pasa, put Nicosia under siege.

Terms of honorable surrender were placed before the Venetian commanders but these they resolutely refused to accept. The result was that Nicosia was taken after six weeks, with a huge majority of the inhabitants being massacred and the city looted. From the capital, Ottoman forces marched towards Kyrenia. This city gave in without a shot, leaving only Famagusta to be conquered.

The Siege of Famagusta

The siege of Famagusta took ten long months, the walls of the city withstanding the assault of the Ottoman forces. The bravery and tenacity of the Venetieans led by Marc Antonio Bragadino have been throughly chronicled by past historians. However, courage was not enough when the city ran out of supplies, and stores expected to arrive from Venice failed to materialise.

Eventually, despite causing loss of life to the Ottoman forces, Bragadino was forced to capitulate and signed the terms of surrender in August 1571. After the surrender, trumped up charges were made against Bragadino with the result that he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and then flayed alive. His treatement being seen by the public, making them realise the power of the Ottoman Empire was not to be thrwarted.

Early settlers

Expansion and trade

The Iron Age

Persian Rule

Hellenistic Period

Roman period

Byzantine rule

Three Hundred years of French Rule

Venetian Rule

Ottoman Rule

British Control

Union with Greece

The country remains divided

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