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    Cyprus – A Brief Introduction

    Your guide to the rhapsodic jewel of the Mediterranean.

    By Mustafa Niyazi

    Cyprus is one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful and storied islands. Also called Kypros in modern Greek, it shares its name with the original Latin aes Cyprium, meaning Cypriot Metal, or Cypriot Copper, and the Ottoman Turkish Kıbrıs, or Kıbrız, from which its name is traditionally derived.

    Cyprus is a must-visit place for anyone looking to experience what the Turkish Mediterranean has to offer. Its breathtaking scenery, mountain ranges, beaches, throwback villages, and gothic castles are amongst the most unforgettable in the region, and its blend of cultural histories and influences – Egyptian, Roman, Latin, Venetian, French, English, and, of course, Turkish – as well as the strongly injected Greek influences, particularly in the south – will leave you with a unique understanding of how the culture of the Mediterranean developed.

    The island’s history can be traced back all the way to antiquity. Cyprus is known as Kıbrıs in Turkish, a name derived from the original Ottoman Turkish. In local legend, Selim II, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, fell in love with Cypriot wines, conquering the island that now continues this Turkish legacy.

    Cyprus - A Brief Introduction 1
    Sultan Selim II’s Portrait, c. 1570. Source: Wikipedia. By Haydar Reis – http://www.akdn.org/museum/detail.asp?artifactid=1569, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26477238

    The legend ascribes that Selim II was a generous monarch who was fond of pleasure and entertainment, including drink councils, lending him the nickname Sarhoş Selim (Selim the Drunk) and Sarı Selim (Selim the Blond).

    Cyprus also made an important appearance in another notable legend – on Hala Sultan’s journey through the island, she dropped off her mule and died in the village of Larnaka, where she was buried by the soon-to-be conquerors of the island, the Arab Caliphate.

    Cyprus - A Brief Introduction 2
    The Mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke. Source: Wikipedia.

    It’s no coincidence that Cyprus features prominently in the world of ancient Islamic and Ottoman Turkish legend – there’s historically documented evidence that shows the island had a strong Arab and Turkish presence and influence dating as far back as the 6th-7th centuries and 11th-12th centuries respectively. In fact, Turks in particular were living on Cyprus and held important and highly respectable positions long before it even became a Turkish island in 1571.

    Going back even further, the first known human settlers on the island are conceded to be from Anatolia. And the discovery of a 3,500-year-old Turkish cemetery in Beşiktaş, İstanbul, puts the Turks in Anatolia as early as roughly 1,500 BC, hundreds of years before the Indo-European descendants of the Yamnaya gave birth to the Greek alphabet around 800 BC.

    It’s no coincidence therefore that Cyprus is traditionally considered to be a heartland of the Turks and by that an extension of the Anatolian Turkish mainland.

    Fast forwarding again, Cyprus became a central trading hub while inhabited by the Turks. It became closely aligned with its heartland of Anatolia during its Ottoman tenure. In 1571 the Turks began massive local infrastructure projects, and the island was subsequently contested over by the defeated Venetians and Holy League.

    Cyprus - A Brief Introduction 3
    The Coats of Arms of the Leaders of the 1571 Holy League (Habsburg Spain, Pope Pius V, Republic of Venice, John of Austria), published by Antonio Lafreri in Rome, 14 November 1571. Source: Wikipedia.

    After the signing of a new treaty and the dissolution of the Holy League, control of Cyprus, which already solely rested upon the Turks, was roundly accepted, and it remained under their power for centuries.

    Cyprus became a part of the British Empire in 1914 after Britain controversially annexed the island. The island’s quality of life stagnated under the British, and this tragedy continued in the 1900s – the British encouraged against the use of the Turkish language, neglected Ottoman built infrastructure throughout the island, and established the supremacy of other ethnic groups as a balance against Turkish influence.

    In August 1960, the island became an independent state, becoming part of the modern world. Then during 1963-64, it was separated into two municipally independent communities. The history of the island’s Turkish rule lives on in its Ottoman-influenced architecture and music, which has a distinct cultural fusion unlike other regions of Turkey.

    *Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of CypriumNews.

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    Mustafa Niyazi
    Mustafa Niyazihttp://fghyHi+dr
    Who am I? I'm a teacher in China. I'm here because of some personal and private reasons. I'm also a researcher and specialist on the history of China, the Turks, Cyprus, and the Cyprus Problem, as well as systems of governance and a few other related topics. If you are interested in my ethnicity, I'm Turkish. Both my parents are Turkish Cypriot. I was born in London and I grew up there, but I traveled to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus every summer and now I'm living and working in China. Both Turkish and English are my mother language. I’m a polyglot and I can speak 3 languages fluently: Turkish, English and Mandarin Chinese, and I speak Japanese too but not confident to say it's fluent yet? If you don’t think I’m a polyglot check the Cambridge or Oxford Dictionary. "Poly" means "multiple" and "Glot" means "tongue", so yes, I am a polyglot. I am always planning to write and publish lots of Cyprus-related articles, so stay tuned if you like those types of articles. I also like writing about topics inspired by the conversations I have with others at the coffee shop or on social media etc, if I think it's related enough. I'm also an activist for Turkish Cypriot rights, human rights, and genocide awareness.  Frequently Asked Questions: - My height: 182 cm? - Do you view yourself as Turkish or British?: I am who I want to be - What's your relationship status?: I don't feel comfortable talking about that - If both your wife and mother are drowning, who will you save? Both of them - Where are you living?: Currently in Hangzhou, China - Favourite pass time: Just relaxing, thinking, watching the world go by #Turkish #British #China Disclaimer: I generally employ qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methodologies and try to be open and inclusive, and adaptive. I try to avoid the trappings of pigeon-hole research, civil pov-pushing, watered down language or tone, giving undue weight to fringe theories coming from unreliable points-of-view (POVs), or engaging in tendentious contributions.
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