Not so strategic: colonial Cyprus’s harbours and railway

Cyprus Government Railway line

In popular and standard accounts of Cyprus and British historiography, Cyprus is considered as a strategic asset for the British empire especially in the beginning (1878) and at the end (1950s until independence in 1960) of British colonialism in the island. Harbours were strategic to European colonial empires as interfaces between metropole and colony, on civil and military levels. These characteristics are emphasised when one considers Cyprus as the only sovereign British land within the context of the Middle East. However, a closer look at the classic strategic technological assets of an island colony, namely ports and railways, suggests quite the contrary. By analysing harbour and railway developments in Cyprus, one may conclude to what extent Cyprus’s strategic importance was questionable from the outset.