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Tuesday 12th December
Cyprus Information - Page 2
History
Cyprus has been inhabited since Neolithic times. During the Bronze Age Cyprus had an important trade in copper.

Over the centuries Cyprus has been colonized and controlled by many peoples: Greeks, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Alexander's armies, the Ptolemies of Egypt, Romans and Byzantines.

In 1191 Richard I of England, the leader of the Third Crusade, conquered Cyprus; the island eventually went to Guy of Lusignan, a Frankish knight and the deposed King of Jerusalem. Cyprus remained in the Lusignan family for three hundred years. Catherina Cornaro, the last of the Lusignans, passed Cyprus to the powerful city-state of Venice in 1489.

The Ottoman Empire took Cyprus in 1571 ruling the island until the end of the 1870s.

Britain rented Cyprus from the Ottomans and annexed the island at the beginning of the First World War. Later the island became a British Colony. From the mid 1950s, Enosis - union with Greece - caused political unrest and a guerrilla war against the British. The Greek Cypriot terrorist organisation, EOKA - Ethniki Organosis Kypriakou Agonos, was led by Colonel Grivas.

1960 saw Cyprus gain its independence from Britain. Archbishop Makarios, the Greek leader, became President and Fazil Kuchuk, a Turkish Cypriot, was appointed Vice President. Within a few years fighting broke out between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots and a United Nations peacekeeping force was stationed on the island. A decade later a coup led to Turkish forces invading the island and in 1983 the Turkish Cypriot leader proclaimed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus separate from the south. However the Turkish Cypriot government was only recognised by Turkey (the island was divided by a one hundred and twelve mile "Green Line" in 1964 patrolled by UN peacekeepers).

In December 2002 Cyprus took part in EU accession negotiations with nine other countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia). The Accession Treaty was signed on 16 April 2003 with 1 May 2004 the formal entry date. The island's entry agreement states that while Cyprus remains politically divided only the Greek southern sector of the island will come under EU law. All Cypriots, however, have the right to passports which give everyone status as European citizens.

Economy
The service sector accounts for the largest percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Tourism is a major industry and Cyprus has become an international business and financial centre. In 2009 construction and tourism slowed down as a result of the ongoing global financial crisis.

Agriculture, traditionally an important part of the economy, accounts for the smallest percentage of the GDP. Crops include barley, potatoes, vegetables, olives, citrus fruits and grapes. Goats, sheep, cattle and pigs are reared.

Copper has been mined in Cyprus for thousands of years. Other natural resources are asbestos, pyrites, gypsum, marble, clay earth pigment, timber and salt.

Industries are food processing, the production of fruit juice, wine and sherry, fish farming, textiles, light chemicals, metal products, wood products, cement and gypsum production, construction and ship repair and refurbishment. (2011)

Arts
There are many archeological sites on Cyprus. Roman mosaic floors can be seen in a number of sites such as the House of Dionysos and the House of Theseus.

During the Byzantine period many icons and frescoes were created. Icons are still produced today.

The Nicosia Municipal Theatre hosts ballets, concerts, operas and plays.

Crafts include pottery, weaving, embroidery and lace-making.

Sport
Football is a popular sport. Many sports are available such as cycling, tennis and golf. There is skiing on Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountains during the winter.

The island provides many opportunities for diving and other water sports. Fishing including freshwater fishing is also popular.

Holidays
Religious calendars are followed in the north and south. New Year's Day and Independence Day (from the UK) are celebrated. There are carnivals in many towns and villages - usually in March. Some towns have flower festivals and there are International Arts Festivals, a Great Flood (Noah's Ark) Festival and a Drama Festival in the ancient theatre in Kourion.

News
News from Cyprus is available from Newslink.

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