Northern Cyprus is the Turkish Cypriot-majority territory of the island of Cyprus. It declared itself a federated state in 1975 and proclaimed independence in 1983 under the name of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti). Its independence has only been recognized by the Republic of Turkey. All other states regard it a part of the Republic of Cyprus.
Northern Cyprus, in its current configuration, owes its existence to events following the independence of Cyprus from the United Kingdom in 1960. Until then, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots spanned throughout the whole island, without distinction between north or south. In 1963 and 1964, as a result of the outbreak of clashes between the two communities following a centralization plan by the Cypriot presidency of Makarios III, most Turkish Cypriots moved, or were forcibly displaced, to the so-called Turkish Cypriot enclaves, spread all over the island.
The Greek and Cypriot armies staged in 1974 a coup d’etat against Makarios III, with the immediate aim of annexing Cyprus to Greece (the so-called Enosis). After five days, and with the stated goal of averting Enosis, Turkey invaded the island and captured 40% of the territory (the whole north). Almost all Greek Cypriots in the north were immediately expelled to the Republic of Cyprus-controlled southern sector, where the coup had already failed. In 1975, almost all Turkish Cypriots in the south were as well expelled from their enclaves and transferred to the north, where the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus had been proclaimed.
In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot authorities turned the Turkish Federated State into the current Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which proclaimed itself independent from Cyprus. Since then, Northern Cyprus has functioned as a de facto independent state, albeit under remarkable Turkish military occupation (between 15,000 and 40,000 troops, depending on the sources).
Most inhabitants of Northern Cyprus speak Turkish, which is the official language of the republic. Native Turkish Cypriots speak the Cypriot Turkish dialect, which is mutually intelligible with Anatolian Turkish dialects spoken by settlers and migrants arrived in Northern Cyprus since the Turkish occupation.
In addition, there is a small Arabic-speaking community made up of Maronites whose ancestors arrived from present-day Lebanon in medieval times. Cypriot Maronite Arabic is only preserved, by elderly people, in Kormakitis (Northern Cyprus) and by speakers hailing from that village that fled from Turkish occupation.
Most of the Armenian-speaking community formerly residing in northern Cyprus moved to the Greek Cypriot sector after the occupation.
Several hundreds of Roma living in Northern Cyprus —mostly in Morphou and Famagusta— could still be keeping alive Kurbetcha, a creole language of Romani vocabulary and Turkish grammar. We do not have more precise data about the vitality of the language.
Politics and institutions
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus exercises most of the functions of independent states, although tasks such as defense or some representation of its foreign interests are exercised by Turkey. The executive branch of the Republic is made up by the presidency and the cabinet, while the legislative branch is formed by the Assembly of the Republic, with 50 MPs.
(Last updated November 2019.)