After conversion of the Empire to Christianity in the fourth century, the Church of Cyprus attained a special status within the larger church. In 431 the Council of Ephesus granted it independence from the patriarchal see of Antioch, a decision subsequently ratified in 488 by the Emperor Zeno. The Church of Cyprus retains this status to the present day and is headed by its own elected archbishop.
Two mountain ranges traverse the island: the Troodos Mountains in the south, and the Pentadaktylos range in the north. The latter extends into the Karpass peninsula towards the Asian mainland. The broad Mesaoria plain in the middle of the island is the most fertile; the major part of it lies in the TRNC. Along the coast one finds numerous fishing villages, such as the one pictured at left, known in Greek as Koma tou Yialou (Κώμα του Γιαλού) and in Turkish as Kumyali. Many of these in the north, including Koma, are largely abandoned, their buildings having been disassembled so that the stones can be used elsewhere. Those buildings still in use are often inhabited by settlers illicitly imported from the mainland. The major cities in Cyprus include Nicosia (the divided capital of both the Cyprus Republic and TRNC), Famagusta, Morphou, Paphos, Limassol, and Larnaca. Much of the tourist industry that made Varoshia (Famagusta) popular before the invasion was relocated to the once sleepy village of Ayia Napa. Previously known as the site of a monastery and an ancient one-of-a-kind fig tree, it has now become a garish resort city.
government of the Cyprus Republic is a truncated
one relative to
what was established in the 1960 Constitution. The head of
state and government is the President.
A Council of Ministers is appointed by the
President and, nominally, the Vice-President.
Although the Vice-President's office was supposed to be occupied by a
Turkish Cypriot, it has in fact been vacant since 1963. There is a
seats were to
have been segregated and reserved for the two ethnic communities. Once
Turkish Cypriot seats are vacant. Deputies serve for five-year terms,
as does the President of the Republic.
The TRNC political system is a parliamentary one, seemingly modelled on that of Turkey prior to 2017, with separate offices of President and Prime Minister, the latter of whom appoints a Cabinet. The legislature is known as the Assembly of the Republic, or the Cumhuriyet Meclisi.
proposals to reunify the island envision a
territorial federal framework with
a modification of the boundary separating the two sides, return of
appropriate compensation for its loss, and freedom of movement.
music of Cyprus is rather distinctive, although
it shares features with other music of the region, especially that of
Greece and Turkey. In the folk tradition, there is a pronounced
affinity for asymmetrical rhythms, especially 5/4 or 5/8 time, in
addition to the 7/8 time signature found elsewhere in
the Greek-speaking world. A quite good webpage is devoted to Cyprus
including ancient Byzantine kalanda
the more recent
compositions of Michalis
Violaris and others. In my considered opinion, the best
of Cypriot music is Chants
et populaires de Chypre, recorded by the
de Musique ancienne and published under the Arion label in France in
Though distinctive in some
shares much with those of the surrounding region. Anyone who has eaten
or middle eastern restaurants will recognize much of the fare that
nourishes the people of Cyprus. Shown at left are three typical foods. Koupepkia
stuffed grape vine leaves known elsewhere in the Greek-speaking world
from the Turkish verb dolmak,
meaning "to fill, to stuff." Moving clockwise around the plate are four
slices of halloumi
Turkish), a delicious cheese unique to the island, made of sheep and
goat milk, packed in its own juices and sprinkled with mint. Its
unusual physical properties enable it to be grilled without melting, as
most cheeses would if subjected to similar treatment. Then, of
course, come the ubiquitous olives,
shown above. As in most cuisines
of the region, meat is reserved for special occasions, such as lamb for
Πάσχα. Everyday meals include
vegetables, legumes and grains, with
olive oil a perennial staple. Extra virgin olive oil comes from the
first pressing of the olives and is used for salads, bread, and
drizzling over boiled greens. Lower grades of olive oil come from later
pressings and are used for cooking. One of the more typical dishes in
the home (but not the restaurant) is moujendra
of at least lentils and rice, and sometimes additional ingredients as
surprisingly, Cyprus is known for its wines.
Already mentioned above is Commandaria,
reputedly the oldest wine in the world. Indeed some think that wine was
invented here. The southern city of Limassol sponsors an annual winefestival
the late summer. Its slogan is well known in the island:
ζωήν ("Drink wine to have
When my wife
and I were in a Cyprus café in 1995, we were served an
dry red wine in an unmarked bottle. After inquiring as to its identity,
waiter shrugged his shoulder and said it was "village wine" from
the Troodos Mountains. Nothing fancy, but certainly amongst the best
wines we've ever drunk.
The languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish, although the tiny Maronite population, traditionally found in the northern village of Kormakiti, speaks Syriac/Aramaic in addition to Greek. In standard demotic Greek the Cypriot dialect is known as Κυπριακά. In the island it is known as Τζιυπριώτικα (pronounced Tcheep-ree-O-tee-ka). The most recognizable feature of the Cypriot dialect is that, where the letter κ (kappa) occurs in standard Greek, it is softened to a <tch> or <dj> sound if it precedes the letters ι, υ, η, ε and the homophonous digraphs, ει, οι and αι. In this respect the development of Cypriot Greek mirrors a similar shift in the romance languages from Latin to Italian and Romanian. Whether this was an indigenous natural development or occurred under the influence of Italian during the Venetian era is uncertain. Because it is found elsewhere in the Greek islands— most notably Crete and even as far west as Kerkira (Corfu)—and because many of these same islands were controlled by Venice or Genoa, either explanation is possible. A second characteristic feature of Τζιυπριώτικα sees words ending in -ια preceded by a <k> sound. For example, the word τραγούδια (songs) becomes τραούδκια or τραούθκια, as in τζιυπριώτικα τραούδκια (Cypriot songs). Similarly, τα μάτια (the eyes) becomes τα μάθκια. Third, whereas the final letter ν has generally been dropped from neuter nouns in standard modern Greek, it has been retained in the Cypriot dialect, as in το παιδίν (the boy). In this respect the Cypriot dialect retains an archaic flavour relative to the standard language. Other peculiarities:
|I and you shall go to Cyprus.||Εγώ και εσύ θα πάμε στην Κύπρο.||Εγιώνι τζι'εσούνι έννα πάμεν στην Τζιύπρον.|
|How are you?||Τι κάνεις;||Ίντα μπου κάμνεις;|
|My father comes
from the house.
Attalides, Michael. Cyprus.
York: St. Martin's Press, 1979.
Beaudoin, Mondry. Étude
Dialecte chypriote moderne et médiéval.
Librairie des Écoles françaises
d'Athènes et de
Durrell, Lawrence. Bitter Lemons.
London: Faber & Faber, 1959.
Foley, Charles. Legacy of
Cyprus from rebellion to civil war. Harmondsworth, UK:
Georgiades, Cleanthis P. History of
Engomi: Demetrakis Christophorou, 2nd English edition, nd (1993?).
Hitchens, Christopher. Hostage
to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger. London:
Hunt, Sir David, ed. Footprints in
an illustrated history. London: Trigraph, 1990.
Joseph, Joseph S. Cyprus:
and International Politics. Houndmills: Macmillan, 1997.
Kyriakides, Stanley. Cyprus:
Constitutionalism and Crisis Government. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1968.
Lanitis, George. Νάσος
Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite. Nicosia: Phædros
Mallinson, William. Cyprus: A Modern History. I. B. Tauris, 2005.
Morgan, Tabitha. Sweet and Bitter Island: A History of the British in Cyprus. London, New York: I. B. Tauris, 2010.
Mourdjis, Marios. The Cypriots
C.A.L. Graphics, nd (late 1970s?).
Newton, Brian. Cypriot
phonology and inflections. The Hague, Paris: Mouton, 1972.
Oberling, Pierre. The Road to
The Turkish Cypriot exodus to northern Cyprus. East
Polyviou, Polyvios G. Cyprus: The
the Challenge. England: John Swain & Son Ltd.,
Negotiation, 1960-1980. London: Duckworth, 1980.
Stavrou, Patroclos. Cyprus: The
Nicosia: Achilles Ghinis, 1971.
Stern, Laurence. The Wrong
New York: Times Books, 1977.
Thubron, Colin. Journey into
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986, originally published 1975.
Toy, Barbara. Rendezvous in
London: John Murray, 1970.
Text and photographs © David
T. Koyzis, 2006. All rights reserved.