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PopULATION, INHABITANTS, &c.
The population of Cyprus, as shown by the estimates given below, has varied very considerably at different epochs in the history of the island.
In ancient times it was stated to be .... 2,000,000
In 1841 a census was ordered to be taken by the Governor, Talaat Effendi; the figures obtained were not very exact, but they showed a total population of 108,000 to 110,000; of these 75,000 to 76,000 were Greek Christians, 32,000 to 33,000 Turks, 1,200 to 1,300 Maronites, 500 Roman Catholics, and 150 to 160 Armenians. The population of Nicosia was then 12,000, consisting of about 8,000 Turks, 3,700 Greeks, and a few Armenians and Maronites. In 1854–58, consular reports stated that the population had risen to 180,000, consisting of 26,514 families, of which 7,299 families were Turkish, and 19,215 Christians. The population of Greek Christians was then described as increasing, and in 1867 the population was reported to amount to 200,000 inhabitants, of whom no less than three-quarters were Christians of the Orthodox Greek Faith. The last official report we have is that of Consul Watkins, who, writing in March, 1878, says that of the estimated present population of 200,000, about two-thirds are Greek, and the remainder, with but few exceptions, Moslems. Since the cession of the island to Great Britain, several estimates, varying considerably in their figures, have been made concerning the present population, but the best authorities consider that there are now about 220,000 people in Cyprus, three-fourths of whom are Christians. The causes of the sudden and rapid increase of the population since 1840, have been assigned to the disappearance of the plague, which was always a source of considerable mortality in Cyprus; the introduction of vaccine, and consequent comparative freedom from small-pox; and to the somewhat improved system of government which has been adopted since that date. The inhabitants consist of the native Cypriotes who form the great bulk of the population, for the Turks, though governing the country, are quite in a minority; moreover, amongst those who are
considered Turks, and in outward appearance might be taken for
aptly called “proto-Hellenic,” are quite a distinct race from the
Greeks, with whom, indeed, almost the only connecting link lies in
of their mode of living, and the inexpensiveness of the necessaries
of life, enable the labouring classes to indulge in idle and lazy
means uncommon. Political agitation, or opposition on the part of the people to the constituted authorities is unknown, although the country has had hard things to bear at the hands of her Turkish rulers, and it is generally remarked that patience and docility are amongst the marked features of the national character. At the same time the slyness and cunning of the Cypriotes are noted, and all over the Levant they have a reputation for keenness in business which includes efforts to over-reach and cheat whenever it is possible, knavery and lying being freely employed in order to gain the required object. The Mussulmans of Cyprus have little of the fanatical spirit and bigotry which characterize the Arab Mussulman. They generally live in harmony with their Christian neighbours in town and country; this is usually found to be the case wherever the Mussulman element is in the minority, and only in Nicosia, where they form the majority of the population, do they evince any desire to assert a superiority. The Christian population is far more industrious and zealous in the acquisition of wealth than the Mahomedan, and for many years past in the sales of land, the latter have generally been the sellers, and rarely the purchasers. The Turk is also seldom an intelligent agriculturist so it can scarcely be wondered at that in Cyprus, the Christians have acquired considerable ascendancy. The Cypriote love of home and family is very strongly evidenced, and is noticed by nearly all writers. It has often been found difficult to induce men to leave their native village even for considerable pecuniary advantages. The continual care of parents is the settlement for life of their children, and, with this object, they will often despoil themselves of their whole property, and settle it upon the younger members of the family. Consul Lang, General di Cesnola, and others, mention cases of this being done, and it points out in a most decisive manner not only the self-denial, but the striking affection of the parent towards his children. It is very commonly supposed that the morals of the Cypriotes are loose, but Consul Lang, speaking with a thorough knowledge of the island, declares that this is an entire mistake, and that the morals of the peasantry will bear most * comparison with the same class in England and Scotland. The marriage customs of the Greek and Catholic inhabitants are governed by the rules of the Greek and Roman churches, and do not differ in any essential points from those in force elsewhere. The Turks, in all religious rites, follow the precepts of the Koran. During the Lenten fast, and on Fridays throughout the year, the religious Cypriote lives on bread and olives, and will not even touch fish, or anything that has breathed. Various superstitions exist in the island, the origin of which may be traced to the old rites of Aphrodite; such, for example, is the custom of offering doves to the priests. The “evil eye” is much dreaded throughout the island, and curious precautions are taken by the natives in order to avoid its influence. The ladanum plant is believed to have magical properties, and the peasants carry it in their hands, and smell it, under the belief that it will charm away disease. The patron saints of the island are St. George, St. Lazarus, St. Barnabas, and St. Andrew. At Whitsuntide the Cypriotes hold a curious ceremonial called the water fête; it appears to be, a celebration of the anniversary of the rising of Venus from the waves at Paphos. Gaudry witnessed this féte, at Larnaca, and describes the great crowd which marched in procession to the sea shore, and the various ceremonies which took place. At the birth of an infant, a vessel of wine is buried, and is not dug up, or touched, until the child is grown up and married, but whatever may be the fate of the child the wine is never used in commerce. As regards physique, the Cypriote males are generally described as a tall, fine looking, and broad shouldered race; Mariti especially praises their personal appearance. The women are said not to retain their ancient reputation for beauty, but their domestic qualities are highly praised by all who are well acquainted with the island.
From the position of Cyprus there has necessarily been a great mixture of Semitic, Aryan, and African races, their languages must also have been to some extent mixed, and some of them, as far as the island is concerned, lost. During the Venetian rule the pertinacity of the Greek element maintained their language, though it become more or less corrupted, particularly in pronunciation, by Italian.
The Cypriote language is now a Greek dialect with a Doric tendency, and words of Semitic o prevail extensively. The peculiarities of the dialect are such that a knowledge of ordinary Romaic is often of little use in the villages. Mr. Stuart Poole advises any one who wishes to become thoroughly acquainted with the Cypriote language, to supplement a good colloquial knowledge of Romaic with a careful study of Professor Mullach's “Grammatik der Griechischen Vulgarsprache,” in relation to Cypriote.
It is said that the Italian language is much used in Cyprus in commercial transactions, and both it and Turkish are spoken commonly by the better classes. Orientals acquire a knowledge of Italian with much greater facility than any other European language. Greek, or the Cypriote dialect of it, is much used by Mahomedans as well as Christians, and there are many villages where the Mahomedan inhabitants are quite ignorant of Turkish. French is very little spoken in the island. Official communications must now be couched either in English or Turkish.
Commencing with the earliest ages, we find but little information regarding the religion practised by the first inhabitants of Cyprus, but it is probable that in the almost savage life led by the early settlers, the religion derived from their forefather Japhet gradually died out, and that when the Phoenician and Cilician colonists arrived, they found nothing but fetishes.
The worship of Aphrodite, the early form of Venus, was then introduced, and Kinyras, who established himself in a regal and priestly position at Palae Paphos, was the founder of the priesthood
Early forms of worship.
Introduction of Christianity.
of the Kinyradae. The Tamaridae family held the priesthood of
* Further details concerning this sect are contained in Cesnola's “Cyprus, its Cities, &c.; ” page 185.