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The Republic of Cyprus is usually called simply Cyprus. This island country is situated in the eastern Mediterranean, south of Turkey, west of Lebanon and Syria, northwest of Israel, north of Egypt, and southeast of Greece. It has two official languages: Greek and Turkish. Armenian and Cypriot Arabic are the minority languages. Its four major ethnic groups are Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, and Maronites. The capital is Nicosia.

Its history dates back to the Paleolithic era, and it has been under the rule of the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, the Rashidun and Umayyad Arab Caliphates, the Venetians, Lusignans, Crusaders, English, and Ottomans.

Around 546 BC, the Cypriot kings heard that King Cyrus of Persia was heading their way. They sent him a message in which they surrendered their kingdoms to him and to top it off, said they would supply Cyrus with military help to help him conquer Caria. Cyrus was happy to accept their offer and allowed them to have their own leadership and to mint their own coins.However, he also sent his own troops to ensure that everything went as he wanted.

The Persians remained in charge of Cyprus until Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire. In 323 BC, after Alexander died, the island was part of the Ptolemaic Empire, and during this period of time during the Hellenistic Period, they became fully hellenized.

In 58 BC, Cyprus became a Roman province, and Cyprus failed to thrive during this time. The high taxes and poor management added to the problems. During the Second Jewish-Roman War in 115-117 AD, Jewish leader Artemion killed 240,000 Cypriots before being bested by a Roman army in 117 AD, after which the Roman government passed a law banning Jews from Cyprus entirely.

The apostle Paul and Barnabas arrived in Cyprus on a mission to spread the Gospel among the Cypriots. Many became Christians. Once the Roman Empire was divided into the Byzantine Empire, which was the eastern part of the empire, and The Holy Roman Empire, which was the western portion, Cyprus fell under Byzantine rule. In the 650s, Arabs invaded Cyprus, and in 688, the last Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian II signed a treaty with the Caliph And al-Malik ibn Marwan which made Cyprus neutral ground and agreed to split the taxes between them, and for the next 300 years, Cyprus would be ruled jointly by the Byzantines and the Arabs as a political territory, even though the Arabs and the Byzantines were in a constant state of war with one another in one country or another. The Byzantines regained control for a while, but the treaty was restored continually until the year 965 when Byzantine general Niketas Chalkoutzes conquered the island again for Byzantium. Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus attempted to regain the throne in 1185, but his coup failed. However, he was able to retain control of the island nation.

In April 1191, during the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionheart (King Richard I of England) and a fleet of ships, one of which was carrying his sister Joan and his fiancée Berengaria, were caught up in a storm. Richard became separated from the ship carrying them. It was reported to the king that the missing ship was anchored at Limassol, on the southern coast of Cyprus, and the wrecks of two other ships, both belonging to England, in the vicinity. The survivors of the wrecks had been taken prisoner by Isaac Komnenos.

In May of 1191, Richard and his army put into the port of Limassol. Isaac refused to release the hostages, and Richard's army forced him and his own army to flee the city. Richard and his soldiers tracked the ruler of Cyprus down and invaded his camp before morning. Isaac somehow escaped again with a handful of his men, but Richard still pursued him. Eventually, Isaac surrendered and ceded control of Cyprus to the King of England, swearing fealty to him. He offered Richard 20,000 marks of gold and 500 men-at-arms and threw in his daughter and castles to ensure his good behavior. Still spooked, however, Isaac snuck away yet again after making the pledges to Richard, this time running to Kantara. A few weeks later, Isaac attempted an escape from Kantara to the mainland, but he was caught and imprisoned in Syria at the Castle of Markappos where he died shortly after his capture.

Ownership of the island nation changed hands repeatedly, until 1878, when the United Kingdom took over the governance of Cyprus as a result of the Cyprus Convention, making the island into a protectorate from the Ottoman Empire.

In 1960 Cyprus became an independent republic. In 1975, Northern Cyprus, which had been a de facto state for a while, changed its name to Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and in 1983, it was renamed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Unfortunately for Northern Cyprus, the only country to consider them to be the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is Turkey. All others consider it to be part of the Republic of Cyprus.


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