Cyprus is one of the oldest countries in the world with a rich history of its own. Part of this wealth of culture comes from its close proximity to Greece and Turkey. “By BC 3700, the island was well inhabited, a crossroads between East and West” . Such an important avenue in the world has resulted in many ruling occupants, including Richard the Lion-Hearted for a brief time, the Venetian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus has been the point of departure for the three continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Any power in this area typically also empowered the country of Cyprus due to the access to these regions of the world.
In 1878, Great Britain entered into a contract with Turkey that called for the leasing of Cyprus . In return, Britain would “maintain the integrity of the Turkish dominions in Asia against Russia” . Britain was motivated to enter into this agreement because of the creation of the Suez Canal nine years earlier, which was vital to Britain’s communications with other countries it controlled in the area. Unfortunately for the Cypriots, Great Britain soon lost interest in promoting the economic conditions of the country. This lack of development was the result of the occupation of Egypt by the British.
The lack of economic reform by Greta Britain in Cyprus stimulated complaints from the Greek Cypriots . Consequently, Cyprus was annexed by Great Britain in 1914. Eleven years later, Cyprus was formally recognized as a colony and received a new constitution. This generated more economic development and governmental policy. One of the primary reasons for the colonization of Cyprus resulted from Great Britain’s strong interest in the Eastern Mediterranean area as a result of World War I. Cyprus provided advantages in British interests in Palestine and Iraq.
Interestingly, the Turk and Greek Cypriots lived rather peacefully together prior to the 1950’s. “Though separated by language and religion and historical traditions, on the island Greeks and Turks had been living on reasonably good terms, working side by side, eating and drinking together, though almost never intermarrying” . Housing and villages were segregated into Turk and Greek areas without much consequence or aggression. When the violence began in the 1950’s, each side blamed the other for starting the violence and the hostilities.