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The Modern History of Cyprus since 1878

Since coming under British rule at the Ottoman Empire's request, the history of Cyprus has again been turbulent, with terrorism, inter-communal violence, and the infamous 1974 invasion.

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Indeed, 1974 is a landmark year in the history of Cyprus

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When you look around the Internet, especially on the many Cyprus property sales websites out there, you'll get a very one sided view of the Republic's history in the run-up to the 1974 invasion.

Once you dig a little deeper, however, things are no longer as clear-cut as many people like to claim.


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The History of Cyprus from 1878 to 1959

The island's British administration which began in 1878 proved an important influence on the history of Cyprus until its independence in 1960.

Wood Engraving, depicting the hoisting of the British flag in 1878

1878: Because a victory by Russia in the Russo/Turkish war of 1877-1878 would directly threaten British economic interests, namely the newly built Suez canal, Great Britain in agreement with Turkey, takes control of Cyprus, effectively 'renting' the island for an annual payment of around £92.000.

1878 - 1914: Although still 'technically' under Turkish rule, the Cypriot legal and governmental systems are dramatically re-structured by the British High Commissioner and his staff. On more than one occasion, these policy reforms cause varying degrees of outrage with the island's Turkish population.

1914: Turkey allies itself with the Austro/Hungarian empire at the start of World War This action causes Britain to nullify the treaty governing its administration of Cyprus. The island is officially annexed by the British Empire and is now wholly under the crown's rule.

1925: After Turkey finally relinquishes all claims to Cyprus in the treaty of Lausanne (1923), Cyprus officially becomes a British Crown colony.

1939 - 1945: During the war, Cyprus is of varying strategic importance. Cypriot volunteers fight alongside British troops in the allied armed forces. At the end of the war, implied promises concerning Cypriot independence in return for allegiance during the conflict are denied by the British, causing much resentment with the local populace.

1954: Great Britain once again refuses to grant independence to Cyprus. Calls on the United Nations to intervene are ignored.

1955: At the end of the year, EOKA (The National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) commences a bloody terrorist campaign against the British and a general state of emergency is declared on the island.

1959: On February 19th of this year, the London Agreement is signed by British, Greek, Turkish and Cypriot leaders, finally guaranteeing independence for Cyprus. The official state of emergency is finally ended on Christmas Eve.

1960: With the declaration of Archbishop Makarios the 3rd as president, August 16th of this year finally sees Cypriot independence. Britain, Greece and Turkey all station troops on the island to ensure its continuing independence.


Cyprus History since 1960

Following Cypriot independence, the British Sovereign Base areas of Akrotiri and Dekhelia remain under complete British control.

View of the Liberty Monument in Nicosia

1960: Cyprus joins the U.N. on September 20th

1963: On December 21st, inter-communal violence errupts and Turkish Cypriots are forced to retreat into enclaves. Turkish troops move to restore order under provisions of the London Agreement on December 24th.

1964: The United Nations Security Council establishes UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) on March 4th. On March 27th, an UNFICYP task force, originally consisting of Irish, Swedish and Canadian troops arrives in Cyprus.

1974: This was to be the year when the modern history of Cyprus would change the face of the island.
A military coup on July 15th forces president Makarios into exile. EOKA leader Nikos Sampson is set up as new leader and declares a union with Greece. Turkish forces invade the island on July 20th and take control of the Turkish enclaves and surrounding areas. At a meeting of Greek, Turkish and British representatives on July 30th a cease-fire is declared. After Greece refuses Turkish demands for a divided Cyprus, Turkey launches a second invasion on August 13th and occupies around 40% of the island. Rauf Denktash is declared leader of Turkish Cyprus. On August 16th, UNFICYP troops establish the 'Green Line' buffer zone between Turkish and Greek territories.

1975: On February 13th, the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus is established. (To the present day, this state is only recognised by Turkey) Since the airport at Nicosia is now under UNFICYP control, an airport is constructed by Greek Cypriots at Larnaca and attempts are made to restore the now non-existent tourist industry with an extensive hotel building programme.
With the lines between Greek and Turkish Cyprus now clearly drawn, Archbishop Makarios is restored to his presidency on December 7th.

1983: The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is unilaterally proclaimed by Turkey on November 15th. There is still no international recognition for this Republic and UN sponsored talks end in stalemate shortly afterwards.

2004: After some years as an affiliate member of the European Union, Greek Cyprus finally attains full member status on May 1st. Turkish Cyprus is still internationally unrecognised.

2007: The history of Cyprus takes another turn as talks are held to negotiate an E.U. controlled re-opening of Famagusta port in trade for the return of the town of Varosha to the Republic of Cyprus.

2008: The Republic has officially adopted the Euro as the currency of Cyprus and thus taken another step to full integration into the European Union and its laws. At this stage, all EU laws were due to come into full force by May 1st 2009, but , in true Cypriot style, the Republic is running predictably late.

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 A Historical Moment

The adoption of the Euro as the official Cypriot currency on January 1st 2008 was another milestone in the history of Cyprus, as this was the date which also saw the introduction of VAT on land. Indeed, so eager were many property developers and property buyers to beat this deadline, that the Republic experienced something of a land-rush during the six months prior to the introduction of this new tax in Cyprus.


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