One of the largest islands of the Mediterranean, about 148 miles long and 40 broad. It is distant about 60 miles from the Syrian coast. It was the "Chittim" of the Old Testament (Numbers 24:24). The Greek colonists gave it the name of Kypros, from the cyprus, i.e., the henna (see CAMPHIRE), which grew on this island. It was originally inhabited by Phoenicians. In B.C. 477 it fell under the dominion of the Greeks; and became a Roman province B.C. 58. In ancient times it was a centre of great commercial activity. Corn and wine and oil were produced here in the greatest perfection. It was rich also in timber and in mineral wealth.
It is first mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 4:36) as the native place of Barnabas. It was the scene of Paul's first missionary labours (13:4-13), when he and Barnabas and John Mark were sent forth by the church of Antioch. It was afterwards visited by Barnabas and Mark alone (15:39). Mnason, an "old disciple," probaly one of the converts of the day of Pentecost belonging to this island, is mentioned (21:16). It is also mentioned in connection with the voyages of Paul (Acts 21:3; 27:4). After being under the Turks for three hundred years, it was given up to the British Government in 1878.