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The Mediterranean island is a popular tourist destination but how much do you know about the country’s contemporary conflicts and complicated history?

Words: Aleksandra Georgieva

Photography: Matthew Feeney

24 July 2020

The island of Cyprus has a very long and complicated history and one of the most complicated, yet beautiful nations in the world. At different times the island was controlled by the Egyptians, the Persians, the Romans, the Turks and even the British. Yet, the people have managed to conserve their identity, origins and cultural heritage. For years the island nation has been facing drought threats leading to depression of their water supplies, internal conflicts and recent economic hardships.

 Located in the Eastern Mediterranean, the island is close to Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The earliest traces of human activity starting to build communities were found on the Southern coast of Cyprus. Archaeologists estimate those to date back to 10 000 BC. Throughout the following decades the human life on the island transformed and faced many changes.

At the beginning of World War I the United Kingdom claimed sovereignty of Cyprus. In 1925 after the Ottoman Empire dissolved, the island was named Crown Colony controlled by the British government. However, the public wanted independence. In 1955 a group of citizens launched a campaign to free Cyprus from British rules and unite as a country with Greece. Four years later in 1960 the island became an Independent Republic. But there was a lot more that laid ahead.

Northern Cyprus was invaded by Turkey in 1974. Hundreds of thousands of Greek Cypriots were displaced. The following year Turkey declared the region they invaded as the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus, which in 1983 became known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. However, only Turkey recognises this nation and to this day to the rest of the world the northern region of the island remains part of the Republic of Cyprus. Ever since the invasion Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been in a great conflict. Armed fighting lead to a decision made by the United Nations of placing peacekeeping forces on the island in 1964, which remain there to this day.

At present the Cypriot nation prospers, despite some economic hardships and drought threats that challenge the livelihood of the local people. In 2018 the capital Nicosia was named the 42nd most expensive city in the world after the Swiss bank UBS researched thousands of cities worldwide and published a list of the top 50 most expensive locations to live in. New York City was used as a baseline for comparison, determining that $62 in Nicosia could buy $100 worth of products in NYC while the citizens of the Cypriot capital earn the equivalent of $50.

Cyprus is a country rich in history and heritage. To find out more about the beautiful scenery and the mythological and romanticised locations across the island, you can read NOMADSofORIGIN’s insight on Cyprus as the Playground of the Gods.



NOMADSofORIGIN is an independent annual publication with a focus on sustainable travelling and global cultural values. Each issue features interviews, engaging articles and photo guides, which take our nomadic readers through different destinations and introduce them to local people's perspectives.



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