And Now.... CYPRUS
Cyprus: Birthplace of an ancient culture, yet an independent nation since
only 1960. Home to fewer than a million people, yet a magnet for millions
of tourists annually. Now this small Mediterranean island is the focus
of attention for both UN and European Union (EU) officials. The EU, because
the Republic of Cyprus has completed intense preparations to become a
full and active member on May 1, 2004 — and has done so, despite
the unresolved conflict that divided its land and population in 1974.
And the UN, because of its members' increasing desire to help Cypriots
end that long conflict. What caused the split? What proposal is on the
table for resolving it? How might Cyprus's admission to the EU —
and the benefits flowing from that admission — influence what has
been called the "Cyprus Issue"?
the following paragraphs, you'll find material to assist you in exploring
and developing these questions with students. You'll also find a special
section on helping students to sharpen their Social
Studies Reading Skills, even as they tackle the unit pages designed
for their use.
This unit on Cyprus is appropriate for high school courses in world history,
world regions, international relations, and contemporary issues. It has
been written to help students achieve standards of learning (SOLs) suggested
by two guidelines — Expectations of Excellence (EOE) and
the National Geography Standards (NGS). Thus, students using
the unit should be better able to:
- "identify and describe significant
historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures,
such as the development of ancient cultures, … [and] the rise
of nation states" — EOE: "Time, Continuity, and Change"
- "analyze and evaluate conditions,
actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation
within … nations" — EOE: "Power, Authority,
- "predict how evolving political
and economic alliances [will] affect … traditional world cultures
regions" — NGS: "The Characteristics, Distribution,
and Complexity of Earth's Cultural Mosaics"
The terms "Cypriot," "Greek," and "Turkish"
pop up in any discussion of the Republic of Cyprus, part of which is now
under military occupation by Turkey. In this unit: (a) references to "Greek
Cypriots" and "Turkish Cypriots" apply to
Cypriots whose ancestors arrived centuries ago from areas now known as
Greece and Turkey; (b) the names "Greeks" and "Turks,"
on the other hand, designate citizens of those two countries. That distinction
becomes vital for students learning about the occupied area of Cyprus,
where Turkish troops and Turkish Cypriot troops stand side-by-side.
When addressing it, you may also want to
preview these terms: bi- (the prefix used in describing the proposed
solution to the Cyprus Issue — viz., a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation),
buffer zone, demonstrations (for a political goal), federation,
free market, military intervention, military occupation, negotiation,
strategic port, unanimous vote.
FOUR BIG QUESTIONS
While the questions at the top of the Student
Text Page are intended to prompt research, they can also be used as
the focus for a class study unit. You might introduce the topic by showing
students a map of the East Mediterranean and asking them to identify Cyprus's
regional location. Some authorities include the island in the Middle East
(geographic definition); others, in Europe (cultural-heritage definition).
1. "How has Cyprus's location
influenced the island's cultural history?" The Student
Text Page suggests several possibilities. In ancient times, Cyprus's
copper deposits lured venturous seafarers. (Indeed, the term "copper"
derives from "Kypros," the Greek term for Cyprus.) And this
contact set the stage for the island's long history as a strategically
located base for traders in the East Mediterranean. At the same time,
the island's beauty drew permanent settlers — most significantly,
those colonists who transplanted their culture from the Greek Aegean islands.
The island's proximity to Turkey (ancient Anatolia) explains Cyprus's
attractiveness to Ottoman Turks centuries later — and its interest
to the government of Turkey today. (See the Cyprus
Map Page in this unit.)
You might want to tell students that, over
the ages, Cyprus has attracted traders, settlers, visitors, and conquerors
from other places as well: from Assyria, Egypt, Persia, Rome, Byzantium,
Venice, and Britain. Each culture left its mark, prompting many to regard
Cyprus as a "crossroads of civilizations." In fact, world tourists
still flock to the island to admire the artifacts of Cyprus's multicultural
heritage. (See the Cyprus Data Page.)
TIP: Using a large
map of the East Mediterranean region, ask students to locate Cyprus with
reference to southeastern Europe, southwestern Asia, and northern Africa.
Then invite them to speculate on why the island's location is considered
"strategic" by world policymakers today.
2. "What benefits does Cyprus
anticipate, as it joins the European Union (EU)?" Following
the EU's invitation and the Republic's approval of required treaties,
Cyprus and nine other nations are slated to become full and active members
of the EU on May 1, 2004. As a member, Cypriots will participate in the
EU's expanded free market and will also benefit from EU programs dealing
with economic, social, environmental, educational, and security issues.
The Republic of Cyprus has worked hard for several decades to achieve
this goal. In 1998, it started formal negotiations for accession (admission)
to the EU and began the process of adapting its own laws to EU regulations.
(That process, which covers such policy areas as energy, agriculture,
and telecommunications, is called harmonization with the acquis
— the political and legal principles on which the EU is constituted.)
The Republic of Cyprus has been widely recognized
as a leader in making such adaptations. Indeed, as of June 2003, it was
the only nation among the new EU members that could be classified as a
"full-paying" member — a nation that contributes more
to the EU than it receives from EU programs. This achievement has been
due, in large part, to the sheer will of Greek Cypriots who rebuilt their
economy after the invasion by Turkey in 1974 — despite losing access
to 70 percent of their nation's productive capacity in the occupied territory.
The Cyprus Data Page for this unit offers
a few clues as to how the Republic accomplished that economic recovery.
Tourism and service industries, for example, add healthy chunks to Cyprus's
GDP. So does the country's accommodation to foreign businesses wishing
to sail vessels under the flag of the island republic.
TIP: Have students
work in small groups to research the names, populations, and per-capita
GDPs of the nine other nations that are slated to join the EU on May 1,
2004 (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta,
Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia). Ask each student group to publish its
findings in a comparison chart. Then discuss: What do all these new nations
(including Cyprus) offer the EU? What does membership in the EU offer
to each of them?
3. "Why does the UN maintain
a peacekeeping force in Cyprus?" On the Student
Text Page, the section labeled "Elusive peace" contains
a brief outline of events in the 1960s and 1970s that led directly to
the current stand-off between Greek Cypriots in the southern part of the
Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots in the occupied northern third
of the island. But students can also look for indirect clues in the two
surrounding sections: "Roots" and "And Now…."
The lingering effects of the Greek Cypriots' (now abandoned) campaign
for enosis might be one such clue, as would the continued efforts
by Turkish Cypriot leaders to claim legitimacy for their government —
a government that no one else in the world (save Turkey) recognizes. [NOTE:
For a detailed examination of the "Cyprus Issue" in the mid-20th
century, see "Historical Setting," "British Rule,"
and "The Republic of Cyprus" in Chapter 1 of Eric Solsten's
Cyprus: A Country
Study. Though dated, this Library of Congress source is very
useful for background information on the period between the 1920s and
1974 — including the limitations of Cyprus's 1960 constitution,
subsequent periods of conflict and negotiation, and the role of the Greek
military junta in stirring a revolt against the Cypriot president in 1974.]
students to brainstorm a list of strategies that might be useful in helping
to reduce mounting tensions between any two groups of citizens within
the same country. In this global world, who should (or might) have the
responsibility for setting such strategies in motion?
4. "Who's working to resolve
the 'Cyprus Issue' in our time — and what do they propose?"
Cyprus's biggest remaining challenge is symbolized by the buffer zone
patrolled by UN peacekeepers. The island's partial occupation by Turkish
troops since 1974 presents a challenge whose solution will involve more
than the withdrawal of those troops. There are also unresolved constitutional,
territorial, and security issues separating the two groups of Cypriots
— as well as the issue of how to restore property to persons displaced
during the 1974 invasion. Quite a task for those who wish to help negotiate
Cyprus's future! Under the leadership of Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
the UN has proposed a detailed plan (twice revised) for a comprehensive
TIP: You may want
students to research, report on, and discuss the Annan plan. Supported
by the government of Cyprus as a basis for negotiations, the plan is modeled
on the relationship between Switzerland's federal government and its many
cantons. Specifically, the proposal calls for the formation of a "United
Cyprus Republic [which would be] an indissoluble partnership, with a federal
government and two equal constituent states," the Greek Cypriot state
and the Turkish Cypriot state. (As of January 2004, the EU, the USA, and
world diplomats were continuing to urge both groups of Cypriots to restart
negotiations on the UN plan. But substantive talks had not resumed.)
Realizing that the recent Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
will exert a mounting pressure on social studies teachers to emphasize
reading skills with secondary school students, LE offers the following
tips for use with this unit (see also LE's new page on Reading
Skills in the Social Studies):
* Making connections.
It's important for students to develop the skill of making connections
between any new piece of reading material and any related topics or
issues they've already explored. To help readers of this unit develop
that skill, you might try these steps: Write the term "Connections"
on the chalk board. Ask students to skim-read the "And Now…."
article on Cyprus and, as they do so, to volunteer any associated
topics that come to mind. List their suggestions on the board and
plan to review them after the class has had enough time to re-read
the article more carefully. Possible valid "connections"
might include the following four concept areas:
1. Significance of Cyprus's
location. The East
Mediterranean region: since ancient times, a crossroads for the exchange
of goods and ideas between world cultures; in our time, a setting
for serious conflicts
2. Influence of Greece and Turkey. Spread of
ancient Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean and in Europe;
conflict between Ottoman Turks and Greeks from 14th century onward
— and lingering differences between their respective descendants;
role of Greece and Turkey as NATO members; role of Greece as EU member
3. Internal division within nations. Since World
War II, a troubling phenomenon, as groups with differing political
goals clash over the direction of their nation's or territory's future
— sometimes doing so with the support and influence of external
4. Role of international organizations. The European
Union — for several decades, an expanding group of nations focused
on the collective and peaceful development of each member's freedom,
security, and trade. The United Nations — since 1945, a world
organization focused on promoting peace and socio-economic development,
as well as human rights
* Looking for the "Five
W's." Old-fashioned guidelines for investigative journalists
are still good advice for young writers — and readers. Asking
students to list the "Who? What? Where? When? and Why?"
of any major article will help them to both deconstruct the piece
of writing and find its central message or meaning. (The exercise
will also give them a good idea of how well-constructed the author's
work is…… Some writers omit one or more of those points
of information.) After reading this unit's text page, a student's
search for the article's five "W's" should produce some
version of the following answers:
1. Who? (major participants)
Republic of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Turkish
troops, Greece, Turkey, Great Britain, EU, UN
2. What? (key event and/or issue) As the Republic
of Cyprus joins the EU, people everywhere are hoping for an end to
the Turkish occupation of one third of the island and trying to find
a solution to political issues that have divided Greek and Turkish
3. Where? (location and/or setting) Cyprus, an
island in the East Mediterranean Sea
4. When? (key dates, historical time periods) The
key event and issue (see "What?") are taking place in the
21st century. Significant background periods include: (a) the late
19th through the 20th centuries and (b) more remotely, preceding centuries.
5. Why? (a question that always depends on an article's focus)
Implicit in this student article are two Why's: Why Cyprus sought
EU membership (to enjoy the EU's social, environmental, security,
and economic benefits — including access to its free market);
and Why Cypriots remain divided, even in the face of the Republic's
EU membership (an inability — thus far — to overcome decades
of disputes over conflicting domestic political goals).
A list of materials on Cyprus (including UN resolutions concerning the
Cyprus Issue) can be obtained by writing to: The Press Office/Embassy
of the Republic of Cyprus/2211 R Street, NW/Washington, DC 20008. The
UN's Security Council Resolutions
on Cyprus are also available online. When the year-by-year list of resolutions
opens up, begin with the 1974 link, then scan each successive year's listing
for "Cyprus." (The earliest years are significant.)
For news breaks and data on Cyprus, check
the "World" Page at The
Washington Post. (When the Page opens, enter "Cyprus"
in the Search box and follow the links — e.g., "Cyprus: Latest
News and Post Coverage.") The Site that provides online access to
world reports by the BBC
News is another excellent source of information. (Enter "Cyprus"
in the Search Box at the top of the opening page.) For a quick update
on Cyprus's progress toward full EU membership, see the opening page on
the Site maintained by the Embassy
of the Republic of Cyprus in the USA. And, while you're browsing,
check out the Site for the Cypriot government's official Press
and Information Office. You'll find the latest news and views from
Finally, here are two other Sites with special
interest for U.S. educators: (1) Periodic White
House reports to the U.S. Congress, on policy toward Cyprus. (Enter
"Cyprus" in the upper left-hand Search Box and select "Foreign
policy" in the right-hand Subject Box.) (2) Recent
U.S. House and Senate bills reflecting
Congressional positions on the Cyprus Issue. (Enter "Cyprus"
in the Word/Phrase Search box at the top of the page. OR: Select "Congressional
Record: Text Search 101st-108th," then enter "Cyprus"
in the Search Box that opens.)
LE recommends these sources,
"Cyprus." The Columbia Encyclopedia.
Columbia University Press. Current edition.
Encarta® Encyclopedia. Current edition.
World Factbook. CIA annual.
Martin, Josh. "Cyprus: Gearing Up for
Change." Middle East. May 2003. P38.
Papadopoulos, Tassos. "Speech
by … [Cyprus's] President on the Occasion of the Signing of the
Instrument of Ratification of the Accession Treaty to the EU."
July 28, 2003.
Relating to the Whole of Cyprus." A fascinating page from an
authoritative source on the Cyprus-EU accession negotiations.
Simons, Marlise. "Greeks and Turks Mingle
Peacefully on Cyprus." The New York Times. April 27, 2003.
World Heritage List." Scroll to "Cyprus" for images
and descriptions of three renowned cultural sites on the island.
U.S. Department of State. "Background
Note: Cyprus". December 2003.
Cyprus Student Text Page
| Cyprus Map Page | Cyprus
Would you like to see other
pages in this study unit? Or visit LE's Home
LE wishes to thank the Embassy of Cyprus for underwriting
the costs of producing and distributing the original printed version of
this unit. We hope that, in this new electronic version, our unit continues
to serve teachers and students in Grades 7-12.
© Learning Enrichment, Inc.
Content last updated: January 2004. Page last reviewed: January 2004.