Cyprus is an Island in the eastern Mediterranean and a province of the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus has a total population of roughly 367.000 and its capital and largest city is Lefkoşa (Greek: Nicosia). Cyprus was administered by the British Empire between 1878 and 1921 despite remaining a de jure territory of the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus was formally returned to the Ottomans in 1921 following the Peace with Honour between the Central Powers and the Entente.

History of Cyprus

In 1570, a full-scale Ottoman assault with 60,000 troops brought the island under Ottoman control, despite stiff resistance by the inhabitants of Nicosia and Famagusta. The previous Latin elite were destroyed and the first significant demographic change since antiquity took place with the formation of a Muslim community. Soldiers who fought in the conquest settled on the island and Turkish peasants and craftsmen were brought to the island from Anatolia.

The ratio of Muslims to Christians fluctuated throughout the history of Cyprus. In 1777–78, 47,000 Muslims constituted a majority over the island's 37,000 Christians. By 1872, the population of the island had risen to 144,000, comprising 44,000 Muslims and 100,000 Christians.

In the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) and the Congress of Berlin, Cyprus was leased to the British Empire which de facto took over its administration in 1878 (though, in terms of sovereignty, Cyprus remained a de jure Ottoman territory throughout the period of British administration, similar to Egypt).

The island would serve Britain as a key military base for its colonial routes. By 1906, when the Famagusta harbour was completed, Cyprus was a strategic naval outpost overlooking the Suez Canal, the crucial main route to India which was then Britain's most important overseas possession. Following the outbreak of the Weltkrieg and the decision of the Ottoman Empire to join the war on the side of the Central Powers, on 5 November 1914 the British Empire formally annexed Cyprus.

In 1915, Britain offered Cyprus to Constantine I of Greece on condition that Greece join the war on the side of the British, which he declined. In 1921 the Peace with Honour designed by the German Empire compensated its Ottoman Ally with the return of Cyprus as well as nominal sovereignty over the territories of Egypt and Tripolitania.


In 1921 at the time of the Peace with Honour Cyprus had a population of about 312,000. By 1936 the total population has increased to an estimated 367,000 inhabitants. According to the 1931 census about 20% of the island's inhabitants are Turks with the majority population being Greeks and other Christians.

Ever since the return of Cyprus in 1921 ethnic tensions between both major population groups has continued to grow. Among several other minorities within the Ottoman Empire the Greeks of Cyprus have striven for greater autonomy with some hardliners covertly advocating open revolt.