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one knows the exact origin of the word Cyprus, but this name has been in use (on
and off) since the 1400s BC. Cyprus was named by the Greeks and may have Greek origin.
The name may come from the Greek word for cypress trees or may come from a Sumerian
word meaning "copper," as copper ore is found on the island in large amounts.
In Latin the word for copper is cyprium or cuprum.
Κύπρο / Kıbrıs
The island of Cyprus has been a crossroads for centuries as people from various
parts of the Mediterranean have arrived and settled. However, in early history it
was the ethnic Greeks that took control over the island have primarily maintained
this control until the present day. Even today much of the island reflects Greek
culture, but the northern half of the island is controlled by the ethnic Turks,
giving that part of the island a completely different culture.
The Greeks brought with them their language, foods, and culture to the island when
they initially settled. They also maintained close relations with Greece itself
over time and as changes took place in Greece, they often also took place in Cyprus.
Perhaps one of the most influential of these changes came with the introduction
of Christianity from the ethnically Greek-controlled Byzantine Empire.
The Greek-dominated culture on Cyprus lasted for centuries and even today there
are numerous similarities between the two, including language, food, and the family-centric
mentality. However, during the Crusades, the island was taken over by western European
powers, who placed the country under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church. Instead
of shifting focus to the west, the people rebelled against this rule and remained
tied to their historic culture. These ties to the past were even further magnified
when the island became home to foreigners and traders.
Of these many foreign settlers, it wasn't until the Ottoman Empire took over
the island that the culture began to truly change. Muslim Turks began to settle
the island and, like in the past, the ethnic Greeks maintained their separate culture
and identity as the Turks held on their own. From this point on these two cultures
have continued on parallel paths, rarely interacting or changing the other to
any great degree. In fact both remain closely tied to the cultures of Greece and
Turkey even today.
In 1974 political instability led to a further divide among the people. Prior to
this the ethnic Greeks and Turks lived side by side in the same cities and towns,
but after this point the ethnic Greeks remain almost wholly in the south and ethnic
Turks live almost exclusively in the north as the country remains politically divided.
Despite the division and political and ethnic tensions, the cultures of the people
remain tied to Greece and Turkey as the languages, foods, and cultures from those
countries are ever present in Cyprus today. However, Cyprus has developed its own
culture in many ways as there are slight variations on foods, languages, dress,
and more. Additionally, as a new member of the European Union, the country is again
opening its doors to foreign influences and people, however today this primarily
comes in the form of tourism.
Learn More About Cyprus:
Map of Cyprus: