Famagusta (fämägōˈstä) [key], Gr. Ammochostos, city (1992 pop. 30,798), E Cyprus, on Famagusta Bay. An important port and a Turkish administrative center, the city was completely evacuated in 1974 when Turkey invaded the island. Before 1974 the majority of the population had been Greek Cypriots. Farming is the main occupation, and there are other light industries. Famagusta occupies the site of ancient Arsinoë, built (3d cent. B.C.) by Ptolemy II. After the fall (1291) of Acre to the Saracens, Christian refugees greatly increased the city's wealth. The seat (15th–16th cent.) of the Venetian governors of Cyprus, it was strongly fortified by the Venetians; the governor's palace, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, and many churches testify to its medieval splendor. As a British naval base the city was heavily bombed in World War II, and from 1946 to 1948 a British internment camp for illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine was maintained near the city. Famagusta is thought to be the scene of Acts II through V of Shakespeare's Othello.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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