Population. – The island had 310,700 residents. according to the census of 1921, 339,400 according to a calculation of 1927 (37 per sq. km.), mostly Greek-speaking and adherents to the autonomous Orthodox Church of Cyprus. According to previous censuses, the proportion of the various ethnic elements, which must not be changed, was the following: 78.9% Greeks, 20.1% Turks, 0.4% Arabs, 0.2% Armenians. The Turks are Muslims (63,000), the others, apart from the largest Orthodox nucleus, also give small numbers of Armenians, Maronites, Catholics and Protestants. There are about 200 Jews. An element imported by the Turks, which however no longer retains a distinct ethnic physiognomy, is that of black slaves. Even in 1845 there were 5,000, and Negroid individuals are sometimes encountered there even today.
No trace has been found so far of the Paleolithic man, but in the Neolithic age, as the research of Gjerstadt has shown, Cyprus was inhabited, and for the subsequent Bronze Age the material collected by Myres, Buxton and Markides, is very abundant. For the average period of this age there are skeletal remains, which indicate that the particular somatic mixture already existed, which is typical of the current population. Certain skulls found by Markides in Lapithos, in the northern part of the island, are deformed exactly in the manner characteristic of certain skulls of Crete probably belonging to the early Minoan age. With the iron civilization Cyprus had to receive the Hellenic character that it still retains today. An ethnic division among the residents of the island had to be established very early:
The population is quite tall (1,68-1,69 m, on average, in adult males), of brown type, blond hair being very rare; less rare are clear eyes, with an oval face, a high but not very fine nose (average nasal index between 64, 2 and 69.6). The shape of the head varies according to the districts. Buxton found averages of frank brachycephaly in the center of Messaria (cephalic index 84.1), somewhat lower on the coast north of Famagusta (83.4), while in Nicosia and in the north dolichocephalic and brachycephalic appear to be numerically equivalent (81 -82 of average index). The brachycephalic element is distinctly Armenoid (see Armeni).
Culture. – It is on the whole similar to that of the whole Levant. The rural house, usually reduced to the ground floor only, has a foundation of stones and brick walls mixed with clay and straw dried in the sun: a central stone arch generally supports the roof, composed of horizontal beams, with a covering of racks and clay. It naturally has little durability. In the best and oldest houses, pointed windows and other architectural details recall medieval European influences. The courtyard and the oil mill are rarely missing.
Traditional indigenous arts are weaving and pottery. The first uses an Asian-style horizontal loom and is the universal domestic occupation of girls. The second produces various types in quality: there is a rough one, made by women and cooked in the sun; a better quality of red color, very widespread, gives products similar to the great vases of the Bronze Age; a third type, called Famagusta, uses a clay that whitens with cooking and is made on a lathe.
Agriculture still uses the all-wooden plow, threshing is done with a tribulum of a slightly different type from that described by Virgil. Characteristic, and of an oriental type, are the intertwining works and the leather skins.
Production. – Cyprus was once famous for copper and today the cupriferous iron mined in Skovriotissa and Mavrovouno is once again one of the main export products. Production has risen from 51,000 tohellate meters. in 1923, to 200,000 in 1927. There are also quarries of gypsum and marble, of umber and green earth. A rapidly developing mining industry is that of asbestos, extracted from the slopes of the Troodos in a place known for its product Amiantos (asbestos): in 1927, exports rose to 10,700 tons. However, the island’s production is mostly linked to agriculture. The main crops are: oil, vines, fruit trees.
The Cyprus wine has been famous for a long time. It was very popular in the century. XVIII, and even earlier, as a drink of the rich classes, almost occupying the place of today’s sparkling wines. The best qualities, similar to some serious wines of Portugal, are today those called Commanderia, from one of the Commanderie of the Knights of Malta who held the island for a short time during the third crusade. Good quality brandy is produced in Limassol and vinegar production is increasing, so much so that it feeds a certain export.
Apart from the introduction of some exotic plants, such as tobacco, corn, sweet potato, mulberry and a few others, the agriculture of Cyprus today differs little from that described by the classics and remains faithful to the unprofitable traditional systems. Livestock is not very abundant and consists mainly of sheep (280,000 sheep, 184,000 goats, in 1919) and pigs (64,000). Sponge fishing should also be mentioned.
The trade import was around, in recent years, around one and a half million pounds and exports in 1927 reached an ‘ equal number; in 1929 imports reached 1,983,833 pounds; exports 1,635,736. A little more than 1 / 4 of this trade is conducted with Britain. Exports include pyrites, carob beans, citrus and fruit, asbestos, live animals, potatoes, wines, cotton, silk and cocoons, sponges, umber. The import supplies food, tobacco, fuels and manufactured goods. The total tonnage of ships entering and leaving the island’s ports was 1,584,000 in 1926.
Government and main centers. – The island is governed by a high commissioner, assisted by an advisory council, and divided into 6 districts, Nicosia (Leucosia), Larnaka, Limassol, Famagusta, Paphos and Kerynia, each of which is under the control of a commissioner. Nicosia (v.), Capital and seat of the Government (18,570 residents), Is located almost in the center of Messaria. Famagusta (v.), Which the only railway on the island connects (km. 122) to Nicosia and Morphou, is now only the shadow of what it was in the past, and the ancient city has become a Turkish village. Limassol (Lémesos, 13,300 residents), On the southern coast, is the main port of the island. Larnaka (v.; 9750 residents), The second port, also has an open bay, but the city extends inland. Kerynia (2000 residents) Is the only notable center of the northern coast, with an old Venetian tower and a small, uncrowded port. Also worth mentioning is Ktima with the new Paphos (Neopaphos), north of the ruins of the ancient city, famous for the temple of Aphrodite; the magnificent medieval castles that crown the northern hills, including Kantara and Buffavento; finally, a little east of Kerynia, S. Ilario, where the peasants still tell stories of Caterina Cornaro, the last queen of Cyprus. For Cyprus government and politics, please check a2zgov.com.
The rural population is almost everywhere centered in villages, which are Greek or Turkish, more rarely mixed. Primary education is ordered so that each confession has its own schools. There are also Greek and Turkish secondary schools. In addition to the local language (see below), the educated class speaks French, while the use of English is also spreading in it.