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Travellers’ Economic Perspectives on Cyprus: The New ‘Eldorado’?

Abstract

Cyprus has been a crossroads for visitors from different countries and continents since early modern times. Their impressions and interests varied according to different parameters such as the timing and purpose of travel the identity of travellers, socio-economic and political changes in their societies and new ideas. Since the 18th and more so in the 19th century, technological innovations in communication and transport, trade expansion and early globalization along with geo-strategic considerations gave new impetus to the
challenge of appropriating and developing new lands including Cyprus.
The paper explores European travellers' impressions before and after the 1878 Anglo-Turkish Convention, which took place within the new general framework of colonial expansionism. It focuses more particularly on visitors' perspectives related primarily with economic affairs rather than cultural concerns or leisure pursuits. By looking at views expressed by visitors who were bankers, farmers or industrialists an attempt is made to discern implicit signifiers in order to shed light on how the island's history and natural endowment was used and interpreted so as to support specific propositions for the economic exploitation of resources. Personal enrichment and wider geo-political control in the face of intensified national antagonisms were the other side of the same coin. Trade, banking, agriculture, possession and commodification of antiquities and to a lesser extent industrial activities are the areas explored.

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