Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)


Capital: Nicosia

Size: 3600 sq m Popn: 716 000

Akamas, Karpasia, Marathasa, Mesaoria, Pitsilia, Tillyeria


The strategic position of Mediterranean island, off the south coast of Turkey and the west coast of Syria, has made it a coveted territory. It was colonized by a succession of peoples from the mainland from the C15 BC. In the C8th BC, it was part of the Assyrian Empire, followed by the Babylonians, Egyptians and Persians. As part of Ptolemaic Egypt, it was seized by Rome in 58 BC and was ruled from Byzantium from AD 395 until 1191 when it was captured by England during the Third Crusade. It was annexed by Vencie in 1489 and became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1571. In 1878, Cyprus came under British administration and was annexed by Britain in 1914, becominga crown colony in 1925.

In 1955, Greek Cypriots who wanted enosis or unification, with Greece, began a guerrilla war against the British. It was chiefly organized by the National Organization of Cypriot Combatants (EOKA) and its military and political leaders were Archbishop Makarios, head of the Greek Prthodox Church in Cyprus, and General Grivas. In 1956, Makarios and other leaders were deported by the British government but after years of negotiation, he was allowed to return as president of a new, independent Greek-Turkish Cyprus which retained British military and naval bases.

The Turks withdrew from the power-sharing in 1963 and fighting began, leading to the setting up of a UN peace-keeping force in 1964. Relations improved enough for talks to be resumed but the Turks wanted a federal state and the Greeks a unitary one. Grivas returned in 1971 and began a guerrilla campaign against the Makarios government but he died in 1974 and his supporters were purged. Makarios was deposed in 1974 by Greek officers of the National Guard and Nicos Sampson, an Enosis extremist, became president. At the request of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktaê , Turkey sent in troops and took control of the north, dividing the island along what became known as the Attila Line and cutting off about a third of its territory. Sampson resigned, the military regime collapsed and Makarios returned from exile in Britain. The Turkish Cypriots established an inependent government for the 'Turkish Federated State of Cyprus' with Denktaê as president.

Makarios died in 1977 and was replaced by Spyros Kyorianou, speaker of the house of representatives. The UN-sponsored peace talks were resumed in 1980 and the Turks offered to hand back about 4% of the territory they controlled and resettle 40 000 of the 200 000 refugees who had fled to the north but there was stalemate on a constitutional settlement. The Turks wanted equal status, equal representation in government and firm links with Turkey but the Greeks favoured and alternating presidency, strong central government and proportional representation in the legislature. The UN and the Greek government in Athens tried to find a solution from 1982-5 but were not successful and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was formally declared but recognized only by Turkey. Denktaê and Kyprianou met in 1985 but could not reach an agreement and the UN secretary-general's proposals for a two-zone federal Cyprus with a Greek president and Turkish vice-president were not accepted. In 1988, Georgios Vassiliou became president of the Greek part and held talks with Dentaê in September but these were abandoned, reportedly due to the intransigence of Dentaê . Peace talks were resumed under UN auspices in New York in August 1992 but the dispute was not resolved and the island remains divided, causing international concern because of its strategic position.

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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