In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Cyprus is Number 65 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on political history recounts how the island was conquered by the Egyptians in 1450 BC, settled by the Greeks, and subsequently was part of the Roman and Byzantine empires. It then was ruled successively by the Lusignans (a dynasty originating in western France, and active in the Crusades), the Genoese, and the Venetians before being conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1571. More than 300 years of Turkish rule ended in 1878, when the British occupied the island under the terms of the Cyprus Convention between Britain and the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus remained nominally a part of the Turkish Empire, however, and it was only formally annexed by Britain on November 5, 1914, following the declaration of war between Turkey and Great Britain. The study notes that in 1911 the population of the island was approximately 80 percent Christian (chiefly members of the autocephalous Cyprian Orthodox Church) and about 20 percent Muslim. The economy was overwhelmingly agricultural, with the main crops being wheat, barley, cotton, and carob.

Last updated: July 23, 2015