Nation profile

Northern Cyprus
Kuzey Kıbrıs

General information
382,230 (2021 estimate)
3,355 km2
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
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
Major religion
Sunni Islam, with minorities of Maronite Catholic and Orthodox Christianity
National day
Republic Day (15 November)


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.

A hundreds-strong community of Greek speakers remains in Rizokarpaso, in Northern Cyprus’ north-eastern tip.

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— might 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.

National identity

The Turkish Cypriot population maintains complex and fluid stances with respect to its national identity, which transits between three poles: Cypriot identity, Turkish Cypriot identity, and Turkish identity, with varying degrees of overlap between them.

According to a 2013 and 2014 United Nations study, 41% to 61% of the population cite “Turkish Cypriot” as their primary identity; 30% to 43% cite “Cypriot”, and 1% to 8% cite “Turkish”.

Politics and government

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, on which it also depends economically.

Turkey is the only country recognizing Northern Cyprus as an independent state. All other countries consider it an integral part of the Republic of Cyprus.

Turkey is the only state in the world that recognizes Northern Cyprus as an independent state. The other countries consider it an integral part of the Republic of Cyprus.

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.

The three traditionally major political parties in Northern Cyprus are the National Unity Party (UBP), the Democratic Party (DP) and the Republican Turkish Party (CTP). The first two are conservative, and support the independence of Northern Cyprus and rapprochement with Turkey, while the third is social democrat, and advocates the unity of Cyprus under a federal system.

President: Ersin Tatar (UBP), since 2020
Government: UBP, DP and YDP, since 2022
Distribution of seats at the Assembly of the Republic (50 members). January 2022 election:

National Unity Party (UBP, right, confederalist/pro-independence pro-Turkey) - 24
Republican Turkish Party (CTP, social democratic, federalist pro-Cypriot unity) – 18
Communal Democracy Party (TDP, centre-left, federalist pro-Cypriot unity) – 3
People’s Party (HP, centre, soft pro-sovereignty) – 3
Democratic Party (DP, centre-right, confederalist) – 3
Rebirth Party (YDP, centre-right, pro-independence pro-Turkey) – 2

(Last updated March 2022.)