National Geographic : 1956 Jun
and Turks for the most part lived separate but amicable existences. They joined in each other's celebrations. Intermarriage, while not common, was not unheard of. To the visitor there was little evidence of foreign control. On my last visit a Turkish Cypriote examined my bags at customs, a Greek Cypriote issued my temporary driving permit. Greek and Turkish policemen di rected traffic in the tangled streets of Nicosia, the capital, waving sports cars, oxcarts, bi cycles, and donkeys on with grave impar tiality (pages 877, 879). The only English men with whom I had official contact during my three-month stay were the director of the tourist office and the Governor himself. Cyprus was turned over to British adminis tration by the Turks under the Anglo-Turkish convention of 1878. In return, Britain guar anteed the Sultan's Asiatic possessions against Russian encroachment. The island became a crown colony in 1925. News Spotlight Swings to Cyprus Recent agitation among the more than 400, 000 Greek Cypriotes for Enosis, or union with Greece, has changed the island's whole pat tern of life and caused loud reverberations in the capitals of Britain, Greece, and Turkey, all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. For months Cyprus has been an armed camp, with more than 20,000 British soldiers struggling to keep order. Trucks and Land Rovers roar over roads accustomed to bicycles and donkeys. Sentries patrol behind barbed wire as violence stalks the island. The persistence of loyalty to Greece is remarkable when you consider that, unless one regards the Byzantine Empire as Greek, Cyprus has had no common sovereignty with that nation for 2,300 years. Yet Greek is the principal language of the island, four fifths of the schools teach in that tongue, and the influence of the Greek Orthodox Church is felt in every village. Leaders of the Turkish minority object vehemently to union with Greece. If any change is made in the status quo, they insist, the island should revert to Turkey, which ruled it for 300 years before Britain. The Turkish coast, they point out, is 45 miles away, the Greek mainland 500 miles. In the halcyon days before the present troubles began, tourism provided an important supplement to the island's primarily agricul tural economy. Lying in the northeastern (Continued on page 878) 874 On Troubled Cyprus .. . World attention has focused this year on Cyprus, headquarters for Britain's forces in the Near East. Greek Cypriotes, in conflict with the British as well as with Turkish Cypriotes, demand union with Greece.