Figure 6. "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus": Population by Age
and Sex, 1989
Source: Based on information from "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,"
State Planning Organisation, Statistics and Research Department, Statistical
Yearbook, 1988, Nicosia, 1989, 12.
Except for a few Maronites in the Kormakiti (Koruçam)
the western end of the Kyrenia range, and several hundred
Cypriots in the Karpas Peninsula, the people living in the
Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC") were Turkish
descendants of Turks who settled in Cyprus following the
conquest in 1571. With the Ottoman conquest, the ethnic
cultural composition of Cyprus changed drastically.
island had been ruled by Venetians, its population was
Greek. Turkish rule brought an influx of settlers speaking
different language and entertaining other cultural
beliefs. In accordance with the decree of Sultan Selim II,
5,720 households left Turkey from the Karaman, çel,
Alanya, Antalya, and Aydin regions of Anatolia and
Cyprus. The Turkish migrants were largely farmers, but
their livelihoods as shoemakers, tailors, weavers, cooks,
tanners, jewelers, miners, and workers in other trades. In
addition, some 12,000 soldiers, 4,000 cavalrymen, and
soldiers and their families stayed in Cyprus.
The Ottoman Empire allowed its non-Muslim ethnic
(or millets, from the Arabic word for religion,
millah) a degree of autonomy if they paid their
were obedient subjects. The millet system permitted
Cypriots to remain in their villages and maintain their
institutions. The Turkish immigrants often lived by
new settlements, but many lived in the same villages as
Cypriots. For the next four centuries, the two communities
side by side throughout the island. Despite this physical
proximity, each ethnic community had its own culture and
little intermingling. Both communities, for example,
interethnic marriage taboo, although it did sometimes
in spite of relations that were often cordial, there was
possibility of serious intimacy between the two
fact, according to the American psychologist, Vamik
Volkan, the two
groups seemed to have a psychological need to remain
Until the island came under British administration in
there were only rough estimates of Cyprus's population and
ethnic breakdown. In more recent times, population figures
highly controversial after it was agreed that the
established in 1960 was to be staffed at a 70-to-30 ratio
and Turkish Cypriots, although the latter made up only 18
percent of the island's population. For this reason, the
figures were a vital issue in the island's government,
affect any far-reaching political settlements in the
About 40,000 to 60,000 Turks lived on Cyprus in the
sixteenth century, according to Ottoman migration figures.
eighteenth century, the British consul in Syria, DeVezin,
that the Turkish population on the island outnumbered the
population by a ratio of two to one. According to his
the Greek Cypriots numbered between 20,000 to 30,000 and
Turkish population around 60,000. Not all historians
estimate, however. If there was a Turkish majority, it did
last. By the time of the first British census of the
1881, Greek Cypriots numbered 140,000 and Turkish Cypriots
One reason suggested for the small number of Turkish
that many of them sold their property and migrated to
Turkey when the island was placed under British
according to the Cyprus Convention of 1878.
There was a significant Turkish Cypriot exodus from the
between 1950 and 1974 when thousands left the island,
Britain and Australia. The migration had two phases. The
lasted from 1950 to 1960, when Turkish Cypriots benefited
liberal British immigration policies as the island gained
independence, and many Turkish Cypriots settled in London.
Emigration would have been higher in this period, had
been pressure from the Turkish Cypriot leadership to
Cyprus and participate in building the new republic.
The second and more intense phase of Turkish Cypriot
began after intercommunal strife increased in late 1963.
conditions for Turkish Cypriots worsened as about 25,000
faced with Greek Cypriot violence, gathered in several
around the island. In addition, all Turkish Cypriots
the government of the Republic of Cyprus lost their civil
positions. Aid from Turkey allowed those in the enclaves
survive, but life at a subsistence level and the constant
violence caused numerous Turkish Cypriots to leave for a
life abroad. As before, most emigrants left for Australia
Britain, but some settled in Turkey. By 1972 the Turkish
population had declined to around 78,000, and prospects
community's survival on the island looked bleak.
After the de facto partition of the island in 1974,
Cypriots began to return to Cyprus, and the decline was
In addition, some 20,000 Turkish guest workers moved to
to revive the Turkish Cypriot economy. Many of these
eventually decided to remain permanently and take "TRNC"
citizenship. Some immigration from Turkey continued in
years. Largely as a result of this dual immigration, the
Cypriot population totaled 167,256 in 1988, according to
State Planning Organisation.
The average annual rate of population increase during
period 1978-87 was 1.3 percent. In 1987 the rate was 1.5
Despite the smallness of most age cohorts (that is those
born in a
particular year) born in the 1970s (a probable reflection
decade's turbulence), more than half the population was
twenty-five years of age
fig. 6). The age-sex
matched standard patterns, with males in the majority in
few decades, and women in the majority thereafter.
Data as of January 1991