Urbanization and Occupational Change
Kakopetria, a village in the Troodos Mountains
Courtesy Republic of Cyprus, Press and Information Office, Nicosia
Cyprus experienced a rapid and intense economic
after World War II. The traditional economy of subsistence
agriculture and animal husbandry was replaced by a
economy, centered in expanding urban areas. These economic
resulted from extensive construction of housing and other
facilities for British military personnel during World War
exports of minerals (60 percent of all exports), which
island's most valuable export in the 1950s; and the
increase in British military spending through the postwar
(Cyprus became Britain's most important base in the
Mediterranean after the loss of bases in the Arab
Independence brought such an acceleration of economic
the so-called "economic explosion," that by the end of the
the objectives of the government's economic planning were
fulfilled, but overtaken.
In this context of economic growth, agriculture
farm machinery became common, irrigation increased, and
scientific use of pesticides and fertilizers became
farming became less important in the economy as a whole.
agricultural income tripled during the 1950s, and then
the 1960s, earnings from industry, construction, trade,
and telecommunications grew even more, and agriculture's
the gross domestic product
(GDP--see Glossary) declined.
decline brought with it changes in employment for many.
increasing fragmentation of farms through inheritance and
shortage of water caused Cypriots to leave farming for
part-time jobs in other economic sectors. The proximity of
employment opportunities in urban areas only made the
The flight from agriculture, which became noticeable in
decade and a half after World War II, continued after
and reached a peak in 1974, when the best and most
agricultural land fell under Turkish occupation. In 1960,
percent of the economically active population were
workers; in 1973, the figure were down to 33.6 percent
this sector. In 1988 government figures estimated only
of the work force earned a living from farming full time.
changes in accounting principles are the cause of some of
decline, the decline of agricultural employment since the
1940s was striking.
Urbanization in Cyprus did not result in the
traditional values and practices, but in their
Urbanization took place under conditions that generally
island the problems often connected with migration of
of unemployed farm workers to urban centers. For one
urbanization occurred in a period of prosperity and
economic activity, and employment was available. In
workers generally left their villages only when they had
in urban areas. Another happy circumstance was that the
small size and its good road system linked most villages
towns, so that many rural workers could commute daily to
jobs. The capital and largest city was especially well
the countryside. Finally, rural migrants unable to afford
in Nicosia and other towns were able to settle in nearby
a circumstance that reduced the likelihood of slums.
Many migrants regarded access to secondary education as
principal reason for moving to the city. While traditional
agricultural society valued land above all else and
education a wasteful luxury, a modern and diversified
education a necessity. Migrants came to value education as
principal means of improving their material and social
Expansion of education contributed immensely to the
of urban values and organizations to rural Cyprus.
Postwar population redistribution in Cyprus was so
that most urban dwellers were born in rural areas. These
maintained close ties with the countryside, and many owned
land in their places of origin. The satisfaction of owning
went beyond increasing property values, a fact that is
understand in Cypriots, who were an agricultural people
a generation ago.
Data as of January 1991