The civilisation of the island of Cyprus goes back, according to archaeological evidence, about 11.000 years to the 9th millennium BC, which is called the early Neolithic Age. The island acquired its Greek character after it was colonised by the Mycenaean-Achaean Greeks between the 13th and 11th century BC. In the mid-9th century BC Phoenician settlers began to arrive, and established a colony at the town of Kition. Subsequently Cyprus came under the suzerainty of the Assyrian, Egyptian and Persian empires between the 8th and 4th centuries BC. It was then conquered by the Roman Empire (until 330 AD).
In the subsequent centuries Cyprus also came under the authority of England (1191-1192), the Franks (1192-1489), the Venetians (1489-1571), the Ottoman Turks (1571-1878) and the British (1878-1960). In 1960 Cyprus became an independent state. Throughout its turbulent history however, Cyprus retained her Greek identity, language and culture.
Today, cultural life in Cyprus is expressed through the creative arts and Cypriot traditions. Literature, music, drama (www.thoc.org.cy), dance, visual arts, cinema, painting and sculpture (www.ekatecy.com) are reaching a peak with Cypriot artists and writers gaining worldwide acclaim.
There are a number of museums including the major Archaeological Museum in Nicosia (www.mcw.gov.cy) as well as art galleries. For the general promotion of the contemporary Cyprus culture and its expressions overseas, the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture organises exhibitions or subsidises the participation of Cypriot Artists in international art competitions.
The first section of the Ministry of Education and Culture exclusively responsible for culture was created in 1965 under the name of Cultural Service. In 1992, after being upgraded to a department, it was given the name of ‘Department of Cultural Services’
The Department of Cultural Services reflects the state’s cultural policy regarding contemporary culture. It plays a significant role in shaping the local culture as it is responsible for the development of Letters and Arts in Cyprus, for involving the public in cultural activities and for the promotion of our cultural achievements overseas.