Sweet and Bitter Island: A History of the British in Cyprus by Tabitha Morgan - review by Colin Smith

Colin Smith

Aphrodite’s Isle

Sweet and Bitter Island: A History of the British in Cyprus


I B Tauris 302pp £25

It is curious that Britain’s links with Cyprus should remain so strong. The island was under British government for less than a century and the severance of those imperial bonds came after a bitter saga of ambuscade, assassination and judicial murder during which the mere possession of a gun was grounds for hanging.

Yet fifty years after independence some 60,000 UK citizens are permanent residents of Cyprus, far more than ever lived there in colonial times. Britain retains ninety-nine square miles of the island as a sovereign military base. More Britons take their holidays on the island than tourists of any other nationality. English is widely spoken and steering wheels are on the right.

Nor is this visiting one-sided. Cypriots flock to British universities, which take more of their students than Greek ones do. Almost half a million people of Cypriot origin, Greek and Turkish, are estimated to live in the United Kingdom. In Nicosia, British troops patrol a sector of the

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