From Mare Nostrum to Insula Nostra: British Colonial Cyprus and the Italian Imperial Threat

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As part of its growing imperial aspirations that were part of the so-called Mare Nostrum attempt, the Italian Empire sought to build up nationalist propaganda on Cyprus. The irredentist activities and propaganda coordinated by the Italian Embassy in Cyprus alarmed the British governors and the Foreign Office. By drawing upon archival documents, this article analyses the evolution of the strategic importance of Cyprus for the British Empire, which began in response to the perceived threat posed by the Italian Empire during the interwar period. The main argument put forward here is that under these new circumstances Cyprus became a significant geostrategic possession for the British Empire. The Italian Empire, having colonised the Dodecanese islands of the Aegean Sea, was gradually making its presence felt in Cyprus in the 1920s and went on to do so more vigorously in the 1930s. The Italian ambassador was perceived as persona non grata by the British government in Cyprus. It was therefore difficult for the British Empire under the actual, or at least the perceived, threat of Italian influence to permit Cypriots to exercise their right of self-determination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
JournalThe Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs
Issue number3
Early online date11 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Cyprus
  • Italian Empire
  • interwar period
  • British Empire
  • Anglo-Italian rivalry
  • Mediterranean


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