Nation profile

Northern Cyprus
Kuzey Kıbrıs

General information
Population
313,626 (2013 estimate)
Area
3,355 km2
Institutions
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (de facto independent state)
Major cities
Nicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia
State administration
Republic of Cyprus (de jure), Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (de facto, with militarty occupation by the Republic of Turkey).
Territorial languages
Turkish, Maronite Arabic, Greek, Kurbetcha
Official languages
Turkish
Major religion
Sunni Islam, with minorities of Maronite Catholic and Orthodox Christianity
National day
Republic Day (15 November)

Presentation

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. Its independence has only been recognized by the Republic of Turkey. All other states in the world regard the territory to be 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 that time, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities 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, 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 with the aim of annexing Cyprus to Greece; subsequently 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).

Language

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 March 2018.)