Which Continent – Is Cyprus in Europe or Asia?

(Last Updated On: December 18, 2018)
Is Cyprus in Europe or Asia?

Is Cyprus in Europe or Asia? On Sporcle, we consider Cyprus to be part of Europe, but there are also strong arguments for why Cyprus is in Asia.

Is Cyprus in Europe or Asia?

Is Cyprus part of Europe? Part of Asia? Both?

The great geography debate about what continent Cyprus is in is one of those pesky bits of general knowledge that can drive people crazy. Depending on who you ask, many seem to have differing opinions on the location of Cyprus, and how the Mediterranean island is classified on the global map. While it might not be entirely wrong to say “both”, that sort of compromise doesn’t always sit well with geographers and trivia buffs, who want one, clear-cut answer.

It is important to realize, however, that the history of Cyprus is long and complex. It is hard to say that there is one definitive answer to our question. But when all factors are considered, it seems more correct to say Cyprus is in Europe.

History of Cyprus

If we are going to discuss the current physical and political positioning of an entire country, then it only seems right that we start at the beginning, or in this case as close to the beginning as we can reasonably get. It has been documented that Cyprus has been the host to human life for over 9,000 years. However, despite this long habitation, much of the country’s history has been dominated by imperialist nations ruling over it.

The Greeks and Phoenicians were among the first groups of people to settle the island, but it did not take long for other powerful nations to begin to fight over it. Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Republic all at least partially ruled over the island at some point during its first few thousand years of human settlement.

Throughout the Middle Ages, powerful empires continued to fight over the island. The Byzantine, Ottoman, and British Empires all spent some time ruling over Cyprus at one point or another, with the British Empire being the last to snag control.

When viewed in historical context, there is no doubt Cyprus has played a significant role in European, African, and Asian history.

Modern Cyprus

Cyprus was formally annexed by Britain in 1914. However, throughout the 20th century, the island would be fought over by competing interests.

During the 1950s, Turkish Cypriots, who made up about 18% of the population, sought to partition the island to establish a Turkish state in the north (a campaign supported by Turkey). Meanwhile, the majority of Greek Cypriots had long pursued a union with Greece (this in turn, was supported by Greece). Eventually, Cyprus would be granted independence from Britain in 1960. In 1963, 11 years of intercommunal violence between the Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus began.  

Fighting between the two parties would reach a boiling point on July 15, 1974, when Greek Cypriot nationalists staged a coup d’état. This led to a Turkish invasion of Cyprus on July 20. Eventually, Turkish forces would establish the territory of Northern Cyprus. This territory was formalized as a speratate Turkish state by a unilateral declaration in 1983 – a move widely condemned in the international community. Today, Northern Cyprus still exists, but is only recognized by Turkey. The political situation of Cyprus remains a point of ongoing dispute.

Do Citizens Think Cyprus Is Part of Europe or Asia?

For those hoping the Cyprus continent issue might be cleared up by the people living there, that will unfortunately not be the case. Depending on where on the island you are, the answer could be different due to the continuing conflict between people of Greek and Turkish descent that reside on the island.

Obviously, Greek Cypriots would tend to argue Cyprus is part of Europe, much like Greece. Turkish Cypriots would be more likely to say Cyprus is in Asia. With all that said, however, there are actually a number of Turkish citizens who want Turkey to be wholly considered part of Europe.

Cyprus is an EU member, which seems to be a pretty good argument for why Cyprus is in Europe. But that is only one side of the coin. Cyprus’ European status is such a highly debated topic among Cypriots that it has been known to heavily affect the results of Cyprus elections.

Where Is Cyprus?

In the fight over whether Cyprus is part of Europe or Asia, it would seem like the simplest and most definitive determination would be in where it actually sits on a map. Unfortunately, the location of Cyprus happens to point towards the fact that it is a part of Asia, despite what a lot of the previous information indicates. Cyprus sits just south of Turkey (the Asian part), and is actually closer to Syria than it is mainland Europe. It should be noted, however, that there are a couple countries in Europe with land farther east than Cyprus.

But when it comes to these sorts of continental questions, you can’t always look at geographic location alone. There is no doubt that one could make arguments for Cyprus being in Asia, but doing so ignores many historical, cultural, and political factors.

So is Cyprus in Europe or Asia? There are compelling arguments on both sides, but ultimately we feel this Mediterranean country has closer ties to Europe than Asia.

Cyprus isn’t the only country that seems to straddle continents. If you like this post, you might enjoy these others:

And make sure to test your trivia skills in the quiz below!

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