Cyprus, Greece, History3 min read • Published on July 28th, 2018

Are Greece and Cyprus the same country?

There are 196 countries in the world. This is a big number and probably the reason why people often confuse countries. One of the most common mistakes is to believe that Greece and Cyprus are the same country. If you take a closer look at the characteristics of these countries you will know why.

Cyprus settlement

Human activity first recorded in Cyprus as early as 10.000 B.C. The specific location and climate allowed people to thrive on this island. The first humans who lived there were gatherers and hunters. Back in 8200 B.C., they have started creating village communities. There is also evidence of significant human activity during Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. The late Bronze Age is important because this was the time when the first Greek settlers arrived. It was the Mycenaean Greek traders that came first here after the fall of their state.

Ever since then, Cyprus became an important part of the Greek history. It is worth mentioning that Alexander the Great conquered this island in 333 B.C. and after his death, Cyprus was part of the Hellenistic empire of Ptolemaic Egypt.

Cyprus Independence

Cyprus was leased to the British Empire in 1878 and it was under British rule until 1960 when Cyprus became independent. The Zurich and London Agreement signed in 1960 by Turkey, Greece and the UK secured the independence of this country. At that time, 77% of the population were Greeks, 18% Turks and almost 5% others. There were 573,566 people who lived in Cyprus in 1960.

But, this plan didn’t work well because many Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots were dissatisfied with the constitution and laws. This revolt was especially present in Greek Cypriots who believed that the Turkish Cypriots have too many rights given their number. The President of Cyprus Archbishop Makarios III suggested constitutional changes and the Turkish Cypriots and the state of Turkey rejected them right away.

Cyprus Demographics

After three years of tensions, the island of Cyprus witnessed inter-communal violence. The conflict started after the killing of 2 Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Cypriot police. The aftermath of this violence was — 174 Greek Cypriot fatalities, 364 Turkish Cypriot fatalities and displacement of around 30,000 Turkish Cypriots. The authorities have formed a Green Line which separated the island and UN troops were sent to calm the situation. After a few months, Turkey revealed plans to invade Cyprus, but their plan postponed until 1974 when they have invaded and divided Cyprus.

It is interesting that even though the number of people living in Cyprus is increased, the ethnic composition remains the same as the one from 1960–77% Greek Cypriots, 18% Turkish Cypriots and other 5%. According to the International Crisis Group, there are 1,1 million people in Cyprus and almost 300,000 of them live in the north (Turkish controlled) part.

Culture & Similarities

The fact is that Cyprus (at least the southern part) and Greece have many things in common. First of all, they are sharing the same history at least until the 19th century. Furthermore, they are using the same language — Greek. However, the people in Cyprus are speaking a distinctive dialect and it takes some effort for Greek speakers to recognize it. As you have probably guessed, the residents of Greece and Cyprus are following the same religion — Orthodox Christianity.

Even the cuisine of these two countries is similar. The Greek cuisine but also the Turkish cuisine influence what Cypriots are eating today but it also has unique elements. Some similar dishes are kebabs, tzatziki sauce, moussaka, baklava and many more.

National Relationships

The relationship between these two countries can be described as strong which is quite natural because of the similarities we have pointed out above. Both Greece and Cyprus are members of the European Union. They have strong cultural and educational cooperation too. There are frequent meetings between the politicians of these countries on high and low levels. The basic goal is to emphasize the closeness between these countries. As we said before, they have extensive cultural and educational relations too. Many artistic events are present in both countries.

Greece and Cyprus have many similarities, but they are two different, independent countries.