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CyprusNo 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.

The silhouette of Cyprus is in copper, perhaps a reference to the name being rooted in this same word. Below this are two olive branches, the international symbol for peace, and in Cyprus, also symbolizes reconciliation between the ethnic Greeks and Turks.

Name: Republic of Cyprus
Independence: August 16, 1960
Capital: Nicosia / Lefkosia
Currency: Euro
Population: 1,155,403 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Greek & Turkish
Language: Greek & Turkish
Religion: Greek Orthodox & Muslim

Information for Cyprus was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks