Why is Cyprus called Cyprus?

Why is Cyprus called Cyprus?

Cyprus, an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean, has a fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. One intriguing aspect of this nation is its name – Cyprus. Have you ever wondered why it is called Cyprus? In this article, we will delve into the origins and significance of the name Cyprus, shedding light on its historical and cultural context. Join us as we uncover the captivating story behind the name of this enchanting island.

History of the Name Cyprus

Ancient Origins

The name Cyprus has ancient origins that date back to the earliest civilizations in the region. It is believed that the name Cyprus has its roots in the language of the ancient peoples who inhabited the island. These early settlers referred to the island as "Alashiya" or "Alasia," which means "copper" in their language. This is because Cyprus was renowned for its abundant copper mines, which played a significant role in the island’s economy and trade during that time.

Greek Influence

The naming of Cyprus was further influenced by the Greek civilization. In Greek mythology, Cyprus was associated with the goddess Aphrodite, who was believed to have been born from the sea foam near the shores of the island. As a result, the Greeks referred to the island as "Kypros," which is a variation of the name Aphrodite. This association with the goddess Aphrodite enhanced the island’s significance in Greek culture and mythology.

Roman Rule

During the period of Roman rule, the name Cyprus underwent a transformation. The Romans Latinized the Greek name "Kypros" to "Cyprus," which is the name we recognize today. The Romans occupied Cyprus in 58 BC and incorporated it into the Roman Empire. The island became an important outpost for the Romans due to its strategic location and valuable resources. The Romans introduced their language and culture to Cyprus, which resulted in the adoption of the Latinized name "Cyprus" as the official name of the island.

Throughout its history, the name Cyprus has evolved, reflecting the influences of various civilizations and cultures that have shaped the island. From its ancient origins as "Alashiya" to the Greek-influenced "Kypros" and eventually the Latinized "Cyprus" during Roman rule, the name has become synonymous with the rich history and heritage of this Mediterranean island.

Cultural Significance of the Name Cyprus

Mythology and Legends

In ancient mythology, the name Cyprus holds a significant place. According to Greek mythology, Cyprus was the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Legend has it that Aphrodite emerged from the foaming waves near the shores of Cyprus, making it a sacred place associated with love and fertility. This mythological connection has contributed to the cultural significance of the name Cyprus, as it symbolizes beauty, love, and divine origins.

Religious References

Cyprus has also gained religious significance throughout history. The island has been mentioned in various religious texts, including the Bible. In the Old Testament, Cyprus is referred to as "Kittim," and in the New Testament, it is mentioned as a place visited by the apostles Paul and Barnabas during their missionary journeys. The presence of Cyprus in religious texts has bestowed it with a sense of divine importance and has made it a destination of pilgrimage for many believers.

Literary References

The name Cyprus has made its way into numerous literary works, further adding to its cultural significance. Throughout history, poets, writers, and playwrights have often referenced Cyprus in their works. William Shakespeare, for example, mentioned the island in his play "Othello," where the character Othello is depicted as a Moorish general from Cyprus. This literary association has contributed to the name Cyprus becoming synonymous with themes of love, betrayal, and tragedy in various literary contexts.

Overall, the name Cyprus holds immense cultural significance due to its mythological, religious, and literary references. It represents the birthplace of Aphrodite, carries religious connotations from biblical accounts, and has been featured in numerous literary works. These cultural associations have solidified the name Cyprus as a symbol of beauty, divinity, and timeless storytelling.

Geographical Factors Influencing the Name Cyprus

Geographical Location

Cyprus, an island country situated in the Eastern Mediterranean, holds a strategic position that has greatly influenced its name. Located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Cyprus has been a significant hub for trade and cultural exchange throughout history. Its geographical location has played a crucial role in shaping its name and identity.


The diverse topography of Cyprus has also contributed to the naming of the island. With a varied landscape that includes mountains, valleys, and coastal plains, Cyprus offers a unique blend of natural beauty. The name "Cyprus" is believed to have originated from the Greek word "Kypros," which may have derived from the word "cuprous," meaning copper. The island’s abundance of copper mines in antiquity played a significant role in its economic and cultural development, ultimately leading to the adoption of the name "Cyprus."

Natural Resources

Cyprus is renowned for its rich natural resources, which have had a profound impact on its name. Apart from copper, the island is blessed with other valuable resources such as timber, minerals, and fertile soil. Throughout history, these resources have attracted various civilizations and influenced the island’s nomenclature. The name "Cyprus" may have also been influenced by the Greek word "Kypris," referring to Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, who was believed to have been born on the island. The association with Aphrodite further emphasizes the island’s natural allure and its significance in mythology.

In conclusion, geographical factors have significantly influenced the name "Cyprus." Its strategic location, diverse topography, and abundant natural resources have shaped the island’s identity and the reasons behind its naming. Cyprus continues to captivate visitors and researchers alike, drawing inspiration from its geography and historical significance.

The origin of the name "Cyprus" has been a subject of curiosity for many. After examining various theories and historical records, it can be concluded that the name "Cyprus" is likely derived from the Greek word "Kyprios," which means "of copper." This name is deeply rooted in the island’s rich history of copper mining and trade. The article has shed light on the fascinating connection between the name and the island’s ancient heritage, providing a deeper understanding of why Cyprus is called Cyprus.

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