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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 697 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CYPRUS, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, nominally in the dominion of Turkey, but under British administration, situated in the easternmost basin of that sea, at roughly equal distance from the coasts of Asia Minor to the north and of Syria to the east. The headland of Cape Kormakiti in Cyprus is distant 44 M. from Cape Anamur in Asia Minor, and its north-east point, Cape St Andrea, is 69 m. from Latakieh in Syria. It lies between 340 33' and 350 41' N., and between 320 20' and 340 35' E., so that it is situated in almost exactly the same latitude as Crete. Its greatest length is about 141 m., from Cape Drepano in the west to Cape St Andrea in the north-east, and its greatest breadth, from Cape Gata in the south to Cape Kormakiti in the north, reaches 6o m.; while it retains an average width of from 35 to 50 M. through the greater part of its extent, but narrows suddenly to less than 10 m. about 340 E., and from thence sends out a long narrow tongue of land towards the E.N.E. for a distance of 46 m., terminating in Cape St Andrea. The coast-line measures 486 m. Cyprus is the largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia. In 1885 a trigonometrical survey and a map on the scale of 1 in. to 1 m. were made by Captain (afterwards Lord) Kitchener, R.E., who worked out the area of the island at 3584 sq. m., or a little more than the area of Norfolk and Suffolk. Mountains.—Great part of the island is occupied by two mountain ranges, both of which have a general direction from west to east. Of these the most extensive, as well as the most lofty, is that which fills up almost the whole southern portion of the island, and is generally designated by modern geographers as Mount Olympus, though that name appears to have been applied by the ancients only to one particular peak. The highest summit is known at the present day as Mount Troodos, and attains an elevation of 6406 ft. It sends down subordinate ranges or spurs, of considerable altitude, on all sides, one of which extends to Cape Arnauti (the ancient Acamas). which forms the north-west extremity of the island, while others descend on both sides quite to the northern and southern coasts. On the south-eastern slope are governmental and military summer quarters. The main range is continued eastward by the lofty summits known as Mount Adelphi (5305 ft.), Papoutsa(5 124) and Machaira or Chionia (4674), until it ends in the somewhat isolated peak called Santa Croce (Stavrovouni or Oros Stavro), the Hill of the Holy Cross (2260 ft.). This mountain, designated by Strabo Mount Olympus, is a conspicuous object from Larnaca, from which it is only 12 M. distant, and is well known from being frequented as a place of pilgrimage. The northern range of mountains begins at Cape Kormakiti (the ancient Crommyon) and is continued from thence in an unbroken ridge to the eastern extremity of the island, Cape St Andrea, a distance of more than roo m. It is not known by any collective name; its western part is called the Kyrenia mountains, while the remainder has the name of Carpas. It is inferior in elevation to the southern range, its highest summit (Buffavento) attaining only 3135 ft., while in the eastern portion the elevation rarely exceeds 2000 ft. But it is remarkable for its continuous and unbroken character—consisting throughout of a narrow but rugged and rocky ridge, descending abruptly to the south into the great plain of Lefkosia, and to the north to a narrow plain bordering the coast. The Mesaoria.—Between the two mountain ranges lies a broad plain, extending across the island from the bay of Famagusta to that of Morphou on the west, a distance of nearly 6o m., with a breadth varying from to to 20 m. It is known by the name of the Mesaoria or Messaria, and is watered by a number of intermittent streams from the mountains on either hand. The chief streams are the Pedias and .the Yalias, which follow roughly parallel courses eastward. The greater part of the plain is open and uncultivated, and presents nothing but barren downs; but corn is grown in considerable quantities in the northern portions of it, and there is no doubt that the whole is readily susceptible of cultivation. It is remarkable that Cyprus was celebrated in antiquityfor its forests, which not only clothed the whole of its mountain ranges, but covered the entire central plain with a dense mass, so that it was with difficulty that the land could be cleared for cultivation. At the present day the whole plain of the Mesaoria is naturally bare and treeless, and it is only the loftiest and central summits of Mount Olympus that still retain their covering of pine woods. The disappearance of the forests (which has in a measure been artificially remedied) naturally affected the rivers, which are mostly mere torrents, dry in summer. Even the Pedias (ancient Pediaeus) does not reach the sea in summer, and its stagnant waters form unhealthy marshes. In the marshy localities malarial fever occurs but is rarely (in modern times) of a severe type. The mean annual temperature in Cyprus is about 69° F. (mean maximum 78°, and minimum 570). The mean annual rainfall is about 19 ins. October to March is the cool, wet season. Earthquakes are not uncommon. Geology.—Cyprus lies in the continuation of the folded belt of the Anti-taurus. The northern coast range is formed by the oldest rocks in the island, consisting chiefly of limestones and marbles with occasional masses of igneous rock. These are supposed to be of Cretaceous age, but no fossils have been found in them. On both sides the range is flanked by sandstones and shales (the Kythraean series), supposed to be of Upper Eocene age; and similar rocks occur around the southern mountain mass. The Oligocene consists of grey and white marls (known as the Idalian series), which are distributed all over the island and attain their greatest development on the south side of the Troodos. All these rocks have been folded, and take part in the formation of the mountains. The great igneous masses of Troodos, &c., consisting of diabase, basalt and serpentine, , are of later date. Pliocene and later beds cover the central plain and occur at intervals along the coast. The Pliocene is of marine origin, and rests unconformably upon all the older beds, including the Post-oligocene igneous rocks, thus proving that the final folding and the last volcanic outbursts were approximately of Miocene age. The caves of the Kyrenian range contain a Pleistocene mammalian fauna. Population.—The population of Cyprus in 19or was 237,022, an increase of 27,736 since 1891 and of 51,392 since 1881. The people are mainly Greeks and Turks. About 22% of the population are Moslems; nearly all the remainder are Christians of the Orthodox Greek Church. The Moslem religious courts, presided over by cadis, are strictly confined to jurisdiction in religious cases affecting the Mahommedan population. The island is divided into the six districts of Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limasol, Nicosia and Papho. The chief towns are Nicosia (pop. 14,752), the capital, in the north central part of the island, Limasol (8298) and Larnaca (7964) on the south-eastern coast. The other capitals of districts are Famagusta on the east coast, Kyrenia on the north, and Ktima, capital of Papho, on the south-west. Kyrenia, a small port, has a castle built about the beginning of the 13th century, and notable, through the troubled history of the island, as never having been captured. Agriculture, &c.—The most important species of the few trees that remain in the island are the Aleppo pine, the Pinus laricio, cypress, cedar, carob, olive and Quercus alnifolia. Recent additions are the eucalyptus, casuarina, Pinus pinea and ailanthus. Some protection has been afforded to existing plantations, and some attempt made to extend their area; but the progress in both directions is slow. Agriculture is the chief industry in the island, in spite of various disabilities. The soil is extremely fertile, and, with a fair rainfall, say 13 in., between November and April, yields magnificent crops, but the improvements in agriculture are scarcely satisfactory. The methods and appliances used are extremely primitive, and inveterate prejudice debars the average peasant from the use of new implements, fresh seed, or manure; he generally cares nothing for the rotation of crops, or for the cleanliness of his land. Modern improvements and the use of imported machinery have, however, been adopted by some. A director of agriculture was appointed in 1896, and leaflets are issued pointing out improvements within the means of the villager, and how to deal with plant diseases and insect pests. The products of the soil include grain, fruit, including carob, olive, mulberry, cotton, vegetables and oil seeds. Vine-yards occupy a considerable area, and the native wines are pure and strong, but not always palatable. The native practice of conveying wine in tarred skins was deleterious to its flavour, and is now for the most part abolished. A company has exploited and improved the industry. Large sums have been expended on the destruction of locusts; they are now practically harmless, but live locusts are diligently collected every year, a reward being paid by the government for their destruction. Under the superintendence of an officer lent by the government of Madras, two great works of irrigation, from the lack of which agriculture had seriously suffered, were undertaken in 1898 and 1899. The smaller includes a reservoir at Syncrasi (Famagusta), with a catchment of 27 sq. m. and a capacity of 70,000,000 cub. ft. It reclaims 36o acres, and was estimated to irrigate 4320. The larger scheme includes three large reservoirs in the Mesaoria to hold up and temporarily store the flood waters of the Pedias and Yalias rivers. The estimate premised a cost of £50,000, the CYPRUS English Mites 5 ?° Capital of Island : ® r ot5 Capitols of Districts o ,,a~Ra Minoan and Mycenennt Mari c`os, sites underlined 1 Rail. ay.. . --+ '1/°!obo4B Reference to Districts 1. Famagusta 2. 1Syrenia 9. Larnaca 1. Limasol 5. Nicosia 6. Fapho irrigation of 42,000 acres, and the reclamation of 1o,000. These works were completed respectively in 1899 and 1901. The rearing of live stock is of no little importance. A committee exists " for the improvement of the breeds of Cyprus stock "; stallions of Arab blood have been imported, and prizes are offered for the best donkeys. Cattle, sheep, mules and donkeys are sent in large numbers to Egypt. Cyprus mules have found favour in war in the Crimea, India, Uganda, Eritrea and Egypt. The sea fisheries are not important, with the exception of the sponge fishery, which is under the protection of the administration. The manufactures of the island are insignificant. Minerals.—Next to its forests, which long supplied the Greek monarchs of Egypt with timber for their fleets, Cyprus was celebrated among the ancients for its mineral wealth, especially for its mines of copper, which were worked from a very early period, and continued to enjoy such reputation among both Greeks and Romans that the modern name for the metal is derived from the term of Aes Cyprium or Cuprium by which it was known to the latter. According to Strabo the most valuable mines were worked at a place called Tamasus, in the centre of the island, on the northern slopes of Mount Olympus, but their exact site has not been identified. An attempt to work copper towards the close of the 19th century was a failure, but some prospecting was subsequently carried on. Besides copper, according to Strabo, the island produced considerable quantities of silver; and Pliny records it as producing various kinds of precious stones, among which he mentions diamonds and emeralds, but these were doubtless nothing more than rock crystal and beryl. Salt, which was in ancient times one of the productions for which the island was noted, is still made in large quantities, and there are extensive salt works in the neighbour-hood of Larnaca and Limasol, where there are practically inexhaustible salt lakes. Rock crystal and asbestos are still found in the district of Paphos. Gypsum is exported unburnt from the Carpas, and as plaster of Paris from Limasol and Larnaca. Statuary marble has been found on the slopes of Buffavento in the northern range. Excellent building stone exists throughout the island. Commerce.—A disability against the trade of Cyprus has been the want of natural harbours, the ports possessing only open roadsteads; though early in the loth century the construction of a satisfactory commercial harbour was undertaken at Famagusta, and there is a small harbour at Kyrenia. Trade is carried on principally from the ports already indicated among the chief towns. The various agricultural products, cattle and mules, cheese, wines and spirits, silk cocoons and gypsum make up the bulk of the exports. Barley and wheat, carobs and raisins may be specially indicated among the agricultural exports. The annual value of exports and of imports (which are of a general character) may be set down as about £300,000 each. Good roads are maintained connecting the more important towns, and when the harbour at Famagusta was undertaken the construction of-a railway from that port to Nicosia was also put in hand. The Eastern Telegraph Co. maintains a cable from Alexandria (Egypt) to Larnaca, and the greater part of the lines on the island. The Imperial Ottoman Telegraph Co. has also some lines. The British sovereign is the current gold coin, the unit of the bronze and silver coinage being the piastre (1I penny). Turkish weights and measures are used. The oke, equalling 2.8 lb avoirdupois, and the donum, about i of an acre, are the chief units. Constitution and Government.—Under a convention signed at Constantinople on the 4th of June 1878, Great Britain engaged to join the sultan of Turkey in defending his Asiatic possessions (in certain contingencies) against Russia, and the sultan, " in order to enable England to make necessary provision for executing her engagement," consented to assign the island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by England. The British flag was hoisted on the 12th of June, and the conditions of the occupation were explained in an annex to the convention, dated the 1st of July. An order in council of the 14th of September,modified so far as related to legislation by another of the 3oth of November, regulated the government of the island. The administration was placed in the hands of a high commissioner with the usual powers of a colonial governor. Executive and legislative councils were established; and in each of the six districts into which, for administrative and legal purposes, the island was divided, a commissioner was appointed to represent the government. The executive council consists of the high commissioner, the chief secretary, the king's advocate, the senior officer in charge of the troops, and the receiver-general, with, as " additional " members, two Christians and one Mussulman. The legislative council consists of six non-elected members, being office-holders, and twelve elected members, three being chosen by the Moslems and nine by the non-Moslem inhabitants. British subjects and foreigners, who have resided five years in Cyprus, can exercise the franchise as well as Ottoman subjects. The qualification otherwise is the payment of any of the taxes classed as Vergi Taxes (see below). The courts in existence at the time of the occupation were superseded by the following, constituted by an order in council dated the 3oth of November 1882:—(1) a supreme court of criminal and civil appeal; (2) six assize courts; (3) six district courts; (4) six magistrates' courts; and (5) village courts. Actions are divided, according to the nationality of the defendant, into " Ottoman " and " Foreign "; in the latter, the president of the court alone exercises jurisdiction as a rule, so also in criminal cases against foreigners. The law administered is that contained in the Ottoman codes, modified by ordinances passed by the legislative council. Finance.—The principal sources of revenue are: (i) Vergi taxes, or taxes on house and land property, and trade profits and incomes (not including salaries) ; (2) military exemption tax, payable by Moslems and Christians alike, but not by foreigners, of 2s. 6d. a head on males between 18 and 6o years of age; (3) tithes. All tithes have been abolished, except those on cereals, carobs, silk cocoons,. and, in the form of ad valorem export duties, those on cotton, linseed, aniseed and raisins (all other export duties and a fishing tax have been abolished); (4) sheep, goat, and pig tax; (5) an excise on wine, spirits and tobacco; (6) import duties; (7) stamps, court fees, royalties, licenses, &c.; (8) salt monopoly. Foreigners are liable to all the above taxes except the military exemption tax. The annual sum of £92,800, payable to Turkey as the average excess (according to the years 1873–1878) of revenue over expenditure, but really appropriated to the interest on the British guaranteed loan of 1855, is a heavy burden. But if not lightened, taxation is at least better apportioned than formerly. Instruction.—A general system of grants in aid of elementary schools was established in 1882. There are some 300 connected with the Greek Orthodox Church, and 16o elementary Moslem schools. Aid is also given to a few Armenian and Maronite schools. Among other schools are a Moslem high school (maintained entirely by government), a training college at Nicosia for teachers in the Orthodox Church schools, Greek high schools at Larnaca and Limasol, an English school for boys and a girls' school at Nicosia. By a law of 1895 separate boards of education for Moslem and Greek Christian schools were established, and in each district there are separate committees, presided over by the commissioner. An institution worthy of special notice is the home and farm for lepers near Nicosia, accommodating over a hundred inmates.
End of Article: CYPRUS

Additional information and Comments

There are two mistakes in the following text, quoted from the entry on 'CYPRUS': QUOTE "The northern range of mountains begins at Cape Kormakiti (the ancient Crommyon) and is continued from thence in an unbroken ridge to the eastern extremity of the island, Cape St Andrea, a distance of more than roo m. It is not known by any collective name;" UNQUOTE The quoted range of mountains has been known since Byzantine times as 'Pendathaktilos', meaning '5-fingers'. The name (also adopted by the Ottomans when they conquered Cyprus) derives from a distinct peak formation a few kilometres east of Kyrenia; it is characterised by five narrow peaks in direct succession. Legend has it that Dighenis Akritas, the most powerful of all the 'akrites' (the mythically potent Byzantine border guardians), once supported himself on the mountain by resting his palm on it. The pressure from his fingers was so great that the peak was reformed to its present shape. The second mistake concerns the quoted length of the Pendathaktilos mountain. 'r00 m' means nothing; I suppose the text was supposed to read '100 miles', which is acceptably correct. There are also other mistakes too in the 'CYPRUS' entry, I may re-visit some day to correct some. Vasilis A.P. Metaxas
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