Turkish Cypriots

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Turkish Cypriots
Kıbrıslı Türkler
Total population
Total unknown
(see also Turkish Cypriot diaspora)
Regions with significant populations
Flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.svg  Northern Cyprus est. 150,000 [1]
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 300,000 to over 650,000
(Higher estimate includes descendants of the early twentieth century muhacirs) [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 130,000 (TRNC nationals only – excludes British born and dual heritage children) [8] [9] [10]
300,000 to 400,000 (including descendants) [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 30,000 (Turkish Cypriot immigrants in 1993 [2] )
est.40,000 to 120,000 [6] [7] [15] [17] [18]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 6,000 (Turkish Cypriot immigrants in 1993 [2] )
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 6,000 (Turkish Cypriot immigrants in 1993 [2] )
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus (south)1,128 (2011 Cyprus census [19] )
est.2,000 [20]
Other countries5,000 (2001 TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimate), [6] particularly in Western Europe, New Zealand, South Africa
Turkish language
( Cypriot Turkish  · Istanbul Turkish )
Sunni Islam

a This figure does not include Turkish settlers from Turkey.

Turkish Cypriots or Cypriot Turks (Turkish : Kıbrıs Türkleri or Kıbrıslı Türkler; Greek : Τουρκοκύπριοι, romanized: Tourkokýprioi) are ethnic Turks originating from Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots are mainly Sunni Muslim. Following the Ottoman conquest of the island in 1571, about 30,000 Turkish settlers were given land once they arrived in Cyprus. [21] [22] Additionally, many of the island's local Christians converted to Islam during the early years of Ottoman rule. [23] Nonetheless, the influx of mainly Muslim settlers to Cyprus continued intermittently until the end of the Ottoman period. [24] Today, while Northern Cyprus is home to a significant part of the Turkish Cypriot population, the majority of Turkish Cypriots live abroad, forming the Turkish Cypriot diaspora. This diaspora came into existence after the Ottoman Empire transferred the control of the island to the British Empire, as many Turkish Cypriots emigrated primarily to Turkey and the United Kingdom for political and economic reasons.


Standard Turkish is the official language of Northern Cyprus. The vernacular spoken by Turkish Cypriots is Cypriot Turkish, which has been influenced by Cypriot Greek, as well as English.


Pre-Ottoman Cyprus

Although there was no settled Muslim population in Cyprus prior to the Ottoman conquest of 1570–71, some Ottoman Turks were captured and carried off as prisoners to Cyprus in the year 1400 during Cypriot raids in the Asiatic and Egyptian coasts. [25] Some of these captives accepted or were forced to convert to Christianity and were baptized; however, there were also some Turkish slaves who remained unbaptized. [26] By 1425, some of these slaves helped the Mamluke army to gain access to Limassol Castle. [27] Despite the release of some of the captives, after the payment of ransoms, most of the baptized Turks continued to remain on the island. The medieval Cypriot historian Leontios Machairas recalled that the baptized Turks were not permitted to leave Nicosia when the Mamlukes approached the city after the battle of Khirokitia in 1426. [28] According to Professor Charles Fraser Beckingham, "there must therefore have been some Cypriots, at least nominally Christian, who were of Turkish, Arab, or Egyptian origin." [25]

An early sixteenth century (c. 1521-1525) map of Cyprus by the Ottoman cartographer Piri Reis Cyprus by Piri Reis.jpg
An early sixteenth century (c.1521–1525) map of Cyprus by the Ottoman cartographer Piri Reis

By 1488, the Ottomans made their first attempt at conquering Cyprus when Sultan Bayezid II sent a fleet to conquer Famagusta. However, the attempt failed due to the timely intervention of a Venetian fleet. [29] The Queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro, was forced to relinquish her crown to the Republic of Venice in 1489. In the same year, Ottoman ships were seen off the coast of Karpas and the Venetians began to strengthen the fortifications of the island. [30] By 1500, coastal raids by Ottoman vessels resulted in the heavy loss of Venetian fleets, forcing Venice to negotiate a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire in 1503. However, by May 1539 Suleiman I decided to attack Limassol because the Venetians had been sheltering pirates who continuously attacked Ottoman ships. Limassol stayed under Ottoman control until a peace treaty was signed in 1540. Cyprus continued to be a haven for pirates who interrupted the safe passage of Ottoman trade ships and Muslim pilgrims sailing to Mecca and Medina. [31] By 1569, pirates captured the Ottoman defterdar (treasurer) of Egypt, and Selim II decided to safeguard the sea route from Constantinople to Alexandria by conquering the island and clearing the eastern Mediterranean of all enemies in 1570–71. [30]

Ottoman Cyprus

A miniature painting depicting the landing of Ottoman soldiers at Limassol Castle during the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus (1570-71) Ottomans conquering the Limassol Castle.png
A miniature painting depicting the landing of Ottoman soldiers at Limassol Castle during the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus (1570–71)
The Ottoman Turks built Buyuk Han in 1572. Today it has become a thriving center of Turkish Cypriot culture. Cipro-Nicosia04.jpg
The Ottoman Turks built Büyük Han in 1572. Today it has become a thriving center of Turkish Cypriot culture.
The Bekir Pasha Aqueduct was built by the Ottoman governor Ebubekir Pasha in 1747. It is considered to be the most prominent water supply ever built in Cyprus. Larnaca 01-2017 img24 Kamares Aqueduct.jpg
The Bekir Pasha Aqueduct was built by the Ottoman governor Ebubekir Pasha in 1747. It is considered to be the most prominent water supply ever built in Cyprus.

The basis for the emergence of a sizeable and enduring Turkish community in Cyprus emerged when Ottoman troops landed on the island in mid-May 1570 and seized it within a year from Venetian rule. [32] The post-conquest period established a significant Muslim community which consisted of soldiers from the campaign who remained behind and further settlers who were brought from Anatolia as part of a traditional Ottoman population policy. [33] [ broken footnote ] There were also new converts to Islam on the island during the early years of Ottoman rule. [23]

In addition to documented settlement of Anatolian peasants and craftsmen, as well as the arrival of soldiers, decrees were also issued banishing Anatolian tribes, "undesirable" persons, and members of various "troublesome" Muslim sects, principally those officially classified as heretical. [34] This influx of mainly Muslim settlers to Cyprus continued intermittently until the end of the Ottoman period. [24]

Some Turkish Cypriots are descendants of Crypto-Christians, a phenomenon that was not uncommon in the Ottoman Empire given its multi-faith character. In Cyprus, many Latins and Maronites, as well as Greeks, converted to Islam at different points during Ottoman rule for a number of reasons ranging from collectively avoiding heavy taxation to ending an individual woman unhappy marriage. [35] Their artificial embrace of Islam and their secret maintaining of Christianity led this group of crypto-Christians to be known in Greek as Linobambaki or the cotton-linen sect as they changed religion to curry favour with Ottoman officials during the day but practiced Catholicism at night. [36] In 1636 the conditions for the Christians became intolerable and certain Christians decided to become Muslims. According to Palmieri (1905) the Maronites who became Muslims lived mainly in the Nicosia District and despite the fact that the Maronites turned to Muslims they never gave up their Christian faith and beliefs hoping to become Christians. This is why they baptized their children according to the Christian faith, but they also practiced circumcision. They also gave their children two names, a Muslim and a Christian one. [37] Many of the villages and neighbouring areas accepted as Turkish Cypriot estates, were formerly Linobambaki activity centers. These include: [38]

  • Agios Andronikos (Yeşilköy)
  • Agios Ioannis (Ayyanni)
  • Agios Sozomenos (Arpalık)
  • Agios Theodoros (Boğaziçi)
  • Armenochori (Esenköy)
  • Ayios Iakovos (Altınova)
  • Ayios Khariton (Ergenekon)
  • Dali (Dali)
  • Frodisia (Yağmuralan)
  • Galinoporni (Kaleburnu)
  • Kato Arodes (Aşağı Kalkanlı)
  • Tylliria (Dillirga)
  • Kornokipos (Görneç)
  • Kritou Marottou (Grit-Marut)
  • Limnitis (Yeşilırmak)
  • Louroujina (Akincilar)
  • Melounta (Mallıdağ)
  • Platani (Çınarlı)
  • Potamia (Bodamya)
  • Vretsia (Vretça)

By the second quarter of the nineteenth century, approximately 30,000 Muslims were living in Cyprus, comprising about 35% of the total population. The fact that Turkish was the main language spoken by the Muslims of the island is a significant indicator that the majority of them were either Turkish-speaking Anatolians or otherwise from a Turkic background. [39] Throughout the Ottoman rule, the demographic ratio between Christian "Greeks" and Muslim "Turks" fluctuated constantly. [40] During 1745–1814, the Muslim Turkish Cypriots constituted the majority on the island compared to the Christian Greek Cypriots, being up to 75% of the total island population. [lower-alpha 1] However, by 1841, Turks made up 27% of the island's population. [44] One of the reasons for this decline is because the Turkish community were obliged to serve in the Ottoman army for years, usually away from home, very often losing their lives in the endless wars of the Ottoman Empire. [45] Another reason for the declining population was because of the emigration trend of some 15,000 Turkish Cypriots to Anatolia in 1878, when the Ottoman Turks handed over the administration of the island to Britain. [46] [47]

British Cyprus

A Cypriot woman in traditional Turkish fashion, 1878 Cypriot (Turkish) Muslim woman 1878.jpg
A Cypriot woman in traditional Turkish fashion, 1878

By 1878, during the Congress of Berlin, under the terms of the Anglo-Ottoman Cyprus Convention, the Ottoman Turks had agreed to assign Cyprus to Britain to occupy and rule, though not to possess as sovereign territory. [48] According to the first British census of Cyprus, in 1881, 95% of the island's Muslims spoke Turkish as their mother tongue. [49] As of the 1920s, the percentage of Greek-speaking Muslims had dropped from 5%, in 1881, to just under 2% of the total Muslim population. [50] During the opening years of the twentieth century Ottomanism became an ever more popular identity held by the Cypriot Muslim intelligentsia, especially in the wake of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. Increasing numbers of Young Turks who had turned against Sultan Abdul Hamid II sought refuge in Cyprus. A rising class of disgruntled intellectuals in the island's main urban centres gradually began to warm to the ideas of positivism, freedom and modernization. [51] Spurred on by the rising calls for "enosis", the union with Greece, emanating from Greek Cypriots, an initially hesitant "Turkism" was also starting to appear in certain newspaper articles and to be heard in the political debates of the local intelligentsia of Cyprus. [52] In line with the changes introduced in the Ottoman Empire after 1908, the curricula of Cyprus's Muslim schools, such as the "Idadi", were also altered to incorporate more secular teachings with increasingly Turkish nationalist undertones. Many of these graduates in due course ended up as teachers in the growing number of urban and rural schools that had begun to proliferate across the island by the 1920s. [53]

Mehmet Remzi Okan with his wife and children in 1919 during the Turkish War of Independence. The family were Turkish Cypriots who owned the newspaper Soz Gazetesi. The Okan family.jpg
Mehmet Remzi Okan with his wife and children in 1919 during the Turkish War of Independence. The family were Turkish Cypriots who owned the newspaper Söz Gazetesi.

In 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the First World War against the Allied Forces and Britain annexed the island. Cyprus's Muslim inhabitants were officially asked to choose between adopting either British nationality or retaining their Ottoman subject status; about 4,000–8,500 Muslims decided to leave the island and move to Turkey. [54] [55] Following its defeat in World War I, the Ottoman Empire were faced with the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) whereby the Greek incursion into Anatolia aimed at claiming what Greece believed to be historically Greek territory. [56] For the Ottoman Turks of Cyprus, already fearing the aims of enosis-seeking Greek Cypriots, reports of atrocities committed by the Greeks against the Turkish populations in Anatolia, and the Greek Occupation of Smyrna, produced further fears for their own future. Greek forces were routed in 1922 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who, in 1923, proclaimed the new Republic of Turkey and renounced irredentist claims to former Ottoman territories beyond the Anatolian heartland. Muslims in Cyprus were thus excluded from the nation-building project, though many still heeded Atatürk's call to join in the establishment of the new nation-state, and opted for Turkish citizenship. Between 1881 and 1927 approximately 30,000 Turkish Cypriots emigrated to Turkey. [57] [46]

The 1920s was to prove a critical decade in terms of stricter ethno-religious compartments; hence, Muslim Cypriots who remained on the island gradually embraced the ideology of Turkish nationalism due to the impact of the Kemalist Revolution. [58] At its core were the Kemalist values of secularism, modernization and westernization; reforms such as the introduction of the new Turkish alphabet, adoption of western dress and secularization, were adopted voluntarily by Muslim Turkish Cypriots, who had been prepared for such changes not just by the Tanzimat but also by several decades of British rule. [59] Many of those Cypriots who until then had still identified themselves primarily as Muslims began now to see themselves principally as Turks in Cyprus. [60]

By 1950, a Cypriot Enosis referendum in which 95.7% of Greek Cypriot voters supported a fight aimed at enosis, the union of Cyprus with Greece [61] were led by an armed organisation, in 1955, called EOKA by Georgios Grivas which aimed at bringing down British rule and uniting the island of Cyprus with Greece. Turkish Cypriots had always reacted immediately against the objective of enosis; thus, the 1950s saw many Turkish Cypriots who were forced to flee from their homes. [62] In 1958, Turkish Cypriots set up their own armed group called Turkish Resistance Organisation (TMT) and by early 1958, the first wave of armed conflict between the two communities began; a few hundred Turkish Cypriots left their villages and quarters in the mixed towns and never returned. [63]

Republic of Cyprus

An old Turkish Cypriot "mahalle" (quarter) in Paphos (1969) Old Turkish Cypriot quarters in Baf (1969).jpg
An old Turkish Cypriot "mahalle" (quarter) in Paphos (1969)

By 16 August 1960, the island of Cyprus became an independent state, the Republic of Cyprus, with power sharing between the two communities under the 1960 Zurich agreements, with Britain, Greece and Turkey as Guarantor Powers. Archbishop Makarios III was elected as president by the Greek Cypriots and Dr. Fazıl Küçük was elected as vice-president by the Turkish Cypriots. However, in December 1963, in the events known as "Bloody Christmas", [64] when Makarios III attempted to modify the Constitution, Greek Cypriots initiated a military campaign against the Turkish Cypriots and began to attack Turkish inhabited villages; by early 1964, the Turkish Cypriots started to withdraw into armed enclaves where the Greek Cypriots blockaded them, resulting in some 25,000 Turkish Cypriots becoming refugees, or internally "displaced persons". [65] [63] This resulted in the UN peacekeeping force, UNFICYP, being stationed on the island as well as an external migration trend of thousands more Turkish Cypriots to the United Kingdom, Turkey, North America and Australia. [66] With the rise to power of the Greek military junta, a decade later, in 1974, a group of right-wing Greek nationalists, EOKA B, who supported the union of Cyprus with Greece, launched a putsch. [67] This action precipitated the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, [68] which led to the capture of the present-day territory of Northern Cyprus the following month, after a ceasefire collapsed. The Turkish invasion resulted in the occupation of some 37% of the island in the north. [65] During the invasion of the island, a number of atrocities against the Turkish Cypriot community were committed; such as the Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda massacre by the Greek Cypriot paramilitary organisation EOKA B. After the Turkish invasion and the ensuing 1975 Vienna agreements, 60,000 Turkish Cypriots who lived in the south of the island fled to the north. [69] The 1974–1975 movement was strictly organised by the Provisional Turkish Administration who tried to preserve village communities intact. [63]

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

The northern areas of the island of Cyprus administered by Turkish Cypriots Cyprus districts named.png
The northern areas of the island of Cyprus administered by Turkish Cypriots

In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared their own state in the north, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which remains internationally unrecognised, except by Turkey. [70] In 2004, a referendum for the unification of the island, the "Annan Plan", was accepted by 65% of Turkish Cypriots but rejected by 76% of Greek Cypriots. [71]


The Turkish Cypriots are Turkish-speaking, regard themselves as secular Muslims, and take pride in their Ottoman heritage. [72] However, Turkish Cypriots differentiate themselves from mainlanders, especially from the religiously conservative settlers who have come to Cyprus more recently, but their strong connection to Turkey is nonetheless undisputed. [73] Hence, the Turkish Cypriot identity is based on their ethnic Turkish roots and links to mainland Turkey, but also to their Cypriot character with cultural and linguistic similarities with Greek Cypriots. [74] Their culture is heavily based on family ties linked to parents, siblings, and relatives; one's neighbourhood is also considered important as emphasis is given on helping those in need. [75] Thus, much of their lives revolves around social activities, and food is a central feature of gatherings. Turkish Cypriot folk dances, music, and art are also integral parts of their culture. [75]


The Hala Sultan Tekke was built by the Ottomans in the 18th century. Larnaca 01-2017 img30 Salt Lake.jpg
The Hala Sultan Tekke was built by the Ottomans in the 18th century.

The majority of Turkish Cypriots (99%) are Sunni Muslims. [76] However, the secularizing force of Kemalism has also exerted an impact on Turkish Cypriots. [77] Religious practices are considered a matter of individual choice and many do not actively practice their religion. [78] Alcohol is frequently consumed within the community and most Turkish Cypriot women do not cover their heads. [76] Turkish Cypriot males are generally circumcised at a young age in accordance with religious beliefs, although, this practice appears more related to custom and tradition than to powerful religious motivation. [79]

The social/religious phenomenon of crypto-Christianity was observed in Cyprus, as in other parts of the Ottoman Empire. The crypto-Christians of Cyprus were known as Linobambaki (= of linen and cotton). They are mentioned by foreign travellers as Turks who are secretly Greeks, observing the Greek Orthodox fasting (Turner 1815), drinking wine, eating pork and often taking Christian wives. [80]


The Turkish language was introduced to Cyprus with the Ottoman conquest in 1571 and became the politically dominant, prestigious language, of the administration. [81] In the post-Ottoman period, Cypriot Turkish was relatively isolated from standard Turkish and had strong influences by the Cypriot Greek dialect. The condition of coexistence with the Greek Cypriots led to a certain bilingualism whereby Turkish Cypriots' knowledge of Greek was important in areas where the two communities lived and worked together. [82]

According to Prof. C. F. Beckingham (1957), in Cyprus religious and linguistic divisions do not always coincide. There were "Turkish", [83] i.e. Muslim villages in which the normal language was Greek. Among them were Lapithiou, Platanisto, Ayios Simeon [84] Beckingham said that this phenomenon has not been adequately investigated. [85] The existence of Greek-speaking Muslims is also mentioned in subsequent works. [86] Ozan Gülle (2014), "it is historically well documented that Turkish Cypriots showed large differences in their frequency of communication in Cypriot Greek [...]: On one end of the spectrum are Turkish Cypriots who were probably monolingual Cypriot Greek speakers or had only little competency in Turkish, ...". [87]

The linguistic situation changed radically in 1974, following the division of Cyprus into a Greek south and a Turkish north. Today, the Cypriot Turkish dialect is being exposed to increasing standard Turkish through immigration from Turkey, new mass media, and new educational institutions. [81] Nonetheless, a Turkish speaker familiar with the Cypriot Turkish variety of Turkish can still easily identify a member of the community from one who is not. [88] Although many Turkish Cypriots command standard Turkish as well, they generally choose to use their own variety in particular contexts to affirm their identity. Most commonly, these differences are in pronunciation, but they extend to lexicon and grammatical structures as well. [88] There are many words used by Turkish Cypriots that originate in the particular historical circumstances of the island, including English and Greek, and therefore have no precedent in standard Turkish. There are also words used by the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities which are authentically Cypriot in origin. [88]

Music and dances


Debates on the Turkish Cypriot population in the 1970s

The 1960 census of Cyprus reported the Turkish Cypriot population as 18% of the total population. The figure was challenged during a 1978 debate in the British Parliament when Lord Spens stated that there were 400,000 Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus, at least one-fifth of the population. [89]

2006 Census

According to the 2006 Northern Cyprus Census, there were 145,443 Turkish Cypriots born on the island who were resident in Northern Cyprus (TRNC). [90] Of the Cypriot-born population, 120,007 had both parents born in Cyprus; 12,628 had one of their parents born in Cyprus and the other born in another country. Thus, 132,635 Turkish Cypriots had at least one parent born in Cyprus. [90]

Place of birthTurkish Cypriot
North Cyprus112,53456,33256,202
Lefkoşa 54,07727,04327,034
Gazimağusa 32,26416,15116,113
Girne 10,1785,1685,010
Güzelyurt 10,2415,0135,228
İskele 4,6172,3562,261
District not indicated1,157601556
South Cyprus32,53815,41117,127
Nicosia (Lefkoşa)3,5441,6461,898
Famagusta (Gazimağusa)1,307598709
Larnaca (Larnaka)6,4923,0313,461
Limassol (Limasol)9,0674,3144,753
Paphos (Baf)11,9555,7506,205
District not indicated17372101
Cyprus – North or South region not indicated371178193

2011 Census

According to the 2011 Northern Cyprus Census, there were 160,207 Turkish Cypriots born on the island who were resident in North Cyprus (TRNC). [91]

Place of birthTurkish Cypriot
population [92]
North Cyprus131,42365,88065,543
Lefkoşa 66,83333,30633,527
Gazimağusa 37,02718,63418,393
Girne 12,7196,4776,242
Güzelyurt 10,4575,1585,299
İskele 4,3872,3052,082
South Cyprus28,78413,61515,169
Nicosia (Lefkoşa)2,9581,4121,546
Famagusta (Gazimağusa)237104133
Larnaca (Larnaka)5,8722,7603,112
Limassol (Limasol)8,5794,0314,548
Paphos (Baf)11,1385,3085,830


There was significant Turkish Cypriot emigration from the island during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, mainly to Great Britain, Australia, and Turkey. Emigration from Cyprus has mainly been for economical and political reasons. According to the TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2001, 500,000 Turkish Cypriots were living in Turkey; 200,000 in Great Britain; 40,000 in Australia; some 10,000 in North America; and 5,000 in other countries. [6]

A more recent estimate, in 2011, by the Home Affairs Committee states that there are now 300,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the United Kingdom [11] though Turkish Cypriots themselves claim that the British-Turkish Cypriot community has reached 400,000. [15] Furthermore, recent estimates suggest that there are between 60,000 and 120,000 Turkish Cypriots living in Australia, [7] [15] [18] 5,000 in the United States, 2,000 in Germany, 1,800 in Canada, 1,600 in New Zealand, and a smaller community in South Africa. [7]


A Turkish Cypriot family who migrated to Turkey in 1935 Turkiye'ye goc eden bir Kibrisli Turk ailesi (1930).jpg
A Turkish Cypriot family who migrated to Turkey in 1935

The first mass migration of Turkish Cypriots to Turkey occurred in 1878 when the Ottoman Empire leased Cyprus to Great Britain. The flow of Turkish Cypriot emigration to Turkey continued in the aftermath of the First World War, and gained its greatest velocity in the mid-1920s. Economic motives played an important part of the continued migration to Turkey because conditions for the poor in Cyprus during the 1920s were especially harsh. Thereafter, Turkish Cypriots continued to migrate to Turkey during the Second World War in the 1940s and during the Cyprus conflict of the 1960s and 1970s.

Initially, enthusiasm to emigrate to Turkey was inflated by the euphoria that greeted the birth of the newly established Republic of Turkey and later of promises of assistance to Turks who emigrated. A decision taken by the Turkish Government at the end of 1925, for instance, noted that the Turks of Cyprus had, according to the Treaty of Lausanne, the right to emigrate to the republic, and therefore, families that so emigrated would be given a house and sufficient land. [93] The precise number of those who emigrated to Turkey is a matter that remains unknown. [94] The press in Turkey reported in mid-1927 that of those who had opted for Turkish nationality, 5,000–6,000 Turkish Cypriots had already settled in Turkey. However, many Turkish Cypriots had already emigrated even before the rights accorded to them under the Treaty of Lausanne had come into force. [95]

Metin Heper and Bilge Criss have summarized the migration of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as follows:

The first wave of immigration from Cyprus occurred in 1878 when the Ottomans were obliged to lease the island to Great Britain; at that time, 15,000 people moved to Anatolia. When the 1923 Lausanne Treaty gave the island to Great Britain another 30,000 immigrants came to Turkey. [46]

St. John-Jones has analyzed the migration of Turkish Cypriots during early British rule further:

"[I]f the Turkish-Cypriot community had, like the Greek-Cypriots, increased by 101 percent between 1881 and 1931, it would have totalled 91,300 in 1931 – 27,000 more than the number enumerated. Is it possible that so many Turkish-Cypriots emigrated in the fifty-year period? Taken together, the considerations just mentioned suggest that it probably was. From a base of 45,000 in 1881, emigration of anything like 27,000 persons seems huge, but after subtracting the known 5,000 of the 1920s, the balance represents an average annual outflow of some 500 – not enough, probably, to concern the community’s leaders, evoke official comment, or be documented in any way which survives today". [57]

The Turkish Cypriot population in Turkey continued to increase at fluctuating speeds as a result of the Second World War (1939–1945). [93] According to Ali Suat Bilge, taking into consideration the mass migrations of 1878, the First World War, the 1920s early Turkish Republican era, and the Second World War, overall, a total of approximately 100,000 Turkish Cypriots had left the island for Turkey between 1878 and 1945. [96] By 31 August 1955, a statement by Turkey's Minister of State and Acting Foreign Minister, Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, at the London Conference on Cyprus, estimated that the total Turkish Cypriot population (including descendants) in Turkey had reached 300,000:

Consequently, today [1955] as well, when we take into account the state of the population in Cyprus, it is not sufficient to say, for instance, that 100,000 Turks live there. One should rather say that 100,000 live there and that 300,000 Turkish Cypriots live in various parts of Turkey. [97]

By 2001 the TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated that 500,000 Turkish Cypriots were living in Turkey. [6]


Turkish Cypriots who remained in Cyprus during the early twentieth century were faced with the harsh economic conditions of the Great Depression under British rule. Consequently, many families in the poorest villages, facing debt and starvation, married off their daughters to Arabs mainly in British Palestine, and other Arab countries, [98] in the hope that they would have a better life. [99] [100] A bride price was normally given by the groom to the family of the girls, usually about £10–20, enough to buy several acres of land at the time, as part of the marriage arrangements. [100] [101] Such payments had not been part of Cypriot tradition, and Cypriots typically describe the girls in these forced marriages as having been "sold"; Arabs however, often object to this characterization. [99] Mostly between the ages of 11–18, the majority of the girls lost contact with their families in Cyprus, and while some had successful marriages and families, others found themselves little more than domestic servants, abused, or ended up working in brothels. [100]

The marriages were sometimes arranged by brokers, who presented the prospective husbands as wealthy doctors and engineers. However, Neriman Cahit, in her book Brides for Sale, found that in reality many of these men had mediocre jobs or were already married with children. Unaware of these realities, Turkish Cypriot families continued to send their daughters to Palestine until the 1950s. Cahit estimates that within 30 years up to 4,000 Turkish Cypriot women were sent to Palestine to be married to Arab men. [102]

In recent years second and third generation Palestinians of Turkish Cypriot origin have been applying for Cypriot citizenship; several hundred Palestinians have already been successful in obtaining Cypriot passports. [102]

In 2012 Yeliz Shukri and Stavros Papageorghiou secured financial support for the making of a film on the subject of the "Forgotten Brides". [103] The documentary, entitled Missing Fetine, was released in 2018, and follows the search of Australian-born Turkish Cypriot Pembe Mentesh for her long-lost great-aunt, while investigating the fate of these Turkish Cypriot women. [99] [104]

United Kingdom

There is a strong Turkish Cypriot community in London. Kibrisyur.jpg
There is a strong Turkish Cypriot community in London.

Turkish Cypriot migration to the United Kingdom began in the early 1920s, the British Empire having formally annexed Cyprus in 1914, with the residents of British-ruled Cyprus becoming subjects of the Crown. [105] Some arrived as students and tourists, while others left the island due to the harsh economic and political life during the British colony of Cyprus. [62] Emigration to the United Kingdom continued to increase when the Great Depression of 1929 brought economic depression to Cyprus, with unemployment and low wages being a significant issue. [106] During the Second World War, the number of Turkish run cafes increased from 20 in 1939 to 200 in 1945 which created a demand for more Turkish Cypriot workers. [107] Throughout the 1950s, Turkish Cypriots emigrated for economic reasons and by 1958 their number was estimated to be 8,500. [108] Their numbers continued to increase each year as rumours about immigration restrictions appeared in much of the Cypriot media. [106]

The 1950s also saw the arrival of many Turkish Cypriots to the United Kingdom due to political reasons; many began to flee as a result of the EOKA struggle and its aim of "enosis". [62] Once the ethnic cleansing broke out in 1963, and some 25,000 Turkish Cypriots became internally displaced, accounting to about a fifth of their population. [109] The political and economic unrest in Cyprus, after 1964, sharply increased the number of Turkish Cypriot immigrants to the United Kingdom. [106] Many of these early migrants worked in the clothing industry in London, where both men and women could work together; many worked in the textile industry as sewing was a skill which the community had already acquired in Cyprus. [110] Turkish Cypriots were concentrated mainly in the north-east of London and specialised in the heavy-wear sector, such as coats and tailored garments. [111] [112] This sector offered work opportunities where poor knowledge of the English language was not a problem and where self-employment was a possibility. [113]

Once the Turkish Cypriots declared their own state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the division of the island led to an economic embargo against the Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Cypriot controlled Republic of Cyprus. This had the effect of depriving the Turkish Cypriots of foreign investment, aid and export markets; thus, it caused the Turkish Cypriot economy to remain stagnant and undeveloped. [114] Due to these economic and political issues, an estimated 130,000 Turkish Cypriots have emigrated from Northern Cyprus since its establishment to the United Kingdom. [115] [116]


Following geological separation of Cyprus from Anatolia, the first people to live in Cyprus came from Anatolia. [117] Before Ottoman rule, Turks came from both Anatolia and Egypt. [117] According to İsmail Bozkurt, the majority of Turkish Cypriots are of Yörük/Türkmen origin from Anatolia, who came after the Ottoman conquest of the island in 1571. [118]

Genetic studies

According to genetic studies, there are close connections between modern Anatolian and Cypriot populations. [119] A 2016 study, which focused on patrilineal ancestry, found that among the sampled Near Eastern and Southeastern European populations, Turkish Cypriots had the shortest genetic distances with those from Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece, and Sicily. [119]

A 2017 study found that both Turkish Cypriots' and Greek Cypriots' patrilineal ancestry derives primarily from a single pre-Ottoman local gene pool. The frequency of total haplotypes shared [lower-alpha 2] between Turkish and Greek Cypriots is 7-8%, with analysis showing that none of these are found in Turkey, thus not supporting a Turkish origin for the shared haplotypes. No shared haplotypes were observed between Greek Cypriots and mainland Turkish populations, while total haplotypes shared between Turkish Cypriots and mainland Turks is 3%. Turkish Cypriots also share haplotypes with North Africans to a lesser extent, and have Eastern Eurasian haplogroups (H, C, N, O, Q) – attributed to the arrival of the Ottomans – at a frequency of ~5.5%. Both Cypriot groups show close genetic affinity to Calabrian (southern Italy) and Lebanese patrilineages. The study states that the genetic affinity between Calabrians and Cypriots can be explained as a result of a common ancient Greek (Achaean) genetic contribution, while Lebanese affinity can be explained through several migrations that took place from coastal Levant to Cyprus from the Neolithic (early farmers), the Iron Age (Phoenicians), and the Middle Ages (Maronites and other Levantine settlers during the Frankish era). The predominant haplogroups among both Turkish and Greek Cypriots are J2a-M410, E-M78, and G2-P287. [120]

In a 2019 genome-wide study, Cypriot samples grouped with people from the Levant (Druze, Lebanese and Syrians) and Armenia among the sampled populations from Eurasia and Africa, using cluster analysis based on haplotype-sharing patterns. [121]

Homozygous beta thalassemia in a number of at-risk populations (Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Greeks, Continental Italians and Sardinians) has been prevented at the population level by programmes based on carrier screening, genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis. [122]

Notable Turkish Cypriots

In Cyprus

In the diaspora

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Turkish Cypriot representatives of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) elected in the Assembly of 1960 partnership government: 1961–1964: Halit Ali Riza, [125] 1961–1963: Umit Suleyman, [126] 1963–1964: Burhan Nalbantoglu. [127]

Turkish Cypriot representatives of PACE elected in the Assembly of Northern Cyprus: (TCs have two seats in PACE; the parties of elected members are shown) 2005–2007: CTP Özdil Nami; UBP Hüseyin Özgürgün; [128] 27.01.2011 CTP Mehmet Caglar; UBP Ahmet Eti; [129] 04.12.2013 CTP Mehmet Caglar, UBP Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu [130]

See also


  1. Drummond, 1745: 150,000 vs. 50,000; Kyprianos, 1777: 47,000 vs. 37,000; [41] [42] De Vezin, 1788–1792: 60,000 vs. 20,000; Kinneir 1814: 35,000 vs. 35,000). [43]
  2. Shared haplotype % represents the proportion of individuals among Greek Cypriots (344 samples) and Turkish Cypriots (380 samples) having an exact 17/17 Y-STR haplotype match in the specified populations.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Demographics of Cyprus</span>

The people of Cyprus are broadly divided into two main ethnic communities, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who share many cultural traits but maintain distinct identities based on ethnicity, religion, language, and close ties with Greece and Turkey respectively. Before the dispute started in 1964 the peoples of Cyprus were dispersed over the entire island.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Famagusta</span> City in eastern Cyprus

Famagusta, also known by several other names, is a city on the east coast of the de facto state Northern Cyprus. It is located east of Nicosia and possesses the deepest harbour of the island. During the Middle Ages, Famagusta was the island's most important port city and a gateway to trade with the ports of the Levant, from where the Silk Road merchants carried their goods to Western Europe. The old walled city and parts of the modern city are de facto part of Northern Cyprus as the capital of the Gazimağusa District.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kyrenia</span> City in Kyrenia District, Cyprus

Kyrenia is a city on the northern coast of Cyprus, noted for its historic harbour and castle. It is under the de facto control of Northern Cyprus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northern Cyprus</span> State on the island of Cyprus

Northern Cyprus, officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), is a de facto state that comprises the northeastern portion of the island of Cyprus. It is recognised only by Turkey, and its territory is considered by all other states to be part of the Republic of Cyprus.

Greek Cypriots are the ethnic Greek population of Cyprus, forming the island's largest ethnolinguistic community. According to the 2011 census, 659,115 respondents recorded their ethnicity as Greek, forming almost 99% of the 667,398 Cypriot citizens and over 78% of the 840,407 total residents of the area controlled by the Republic of Cyprus. These figures do not include the 29,321 citizens of Greece residing in Cyprus, ethnic Greeks recorded as citizens of other countries, or the population of Northern Cyprus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ottoman Cyprus</span> Ottoman province (1571–1878)

The Eyalet of Cyprus was an eyalet (province) of the Ottoman Empire made up of the island of Cyprus, which was annexed into the Empire in 1571. The Ottomans changed the way they administered Cyprus multiple times. It was a sanjak (sub-province) of the Eyalet of the Archipelago from 1670 to 1703, and again from 1784 onwards; a fief of the Grand Vizier ; and again an eyalet for the short period from 1745 to 1748.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turkish people</span> Ethnic group native to Turkey

Turkish people or Turks are the largest Turkic people who speak various dialects of the Turkish language and form a majority in Turkey and Northern Cyprus. In addition, centuries-old ethnic Turkish communities still live across other former territories of the Ottoman Empire. Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a Turk as anyone who is a citizen of Turkey. While the legal use of the term Turkish as it pertains to a citizen of Turkey is different from the term's ethnic definition, the majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. The vast majority of Turks are Muslims and follow the Sunni and Alevi faith.

The Turkish Cypriot diaspora is a term used to refer to the Turkish Cypriot community living outside the island of Cyprus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Muhacir</span> Ottoman Muslims who emigrated to Anatolia

Muhacir are the estimated millions of Ottoman Muslim citizens, and their descendants born after the onset of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, mostly Turks but also Albanians, Bosniaks, Greek Muslims, Circassians, Crimean Tatars, Pomaks, Serb Muslims, Georgian Muslims, and Muslim Roma who emigrated to East Thrace and Anatolia from the late 18th century until the end of the 20th century, mainly to escape ongoing persecution in their homelands. Up to a third of modern-day population in Turkey may have ancestry from these Turkish and other Muslim migrants.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turkish Australians</span> Australian people of Turkish descent

Turkish Australians or Australian Turks are Australians who have emigrated from Turkey or who have Turkish ancestral origins.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cretan Muslims</span> Historical Muslim population of Crete

The Cretan Muslims or Cretan Turks were the Muslim inhabitants of the island of Crete. Their descendants settled principally in Turkey, the Dodecanese Islands under Italian administration, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, and Egypt, as well as in the larger Turkish diaspora.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British Turks</span> Ethnic group in the United Kingdom

British Turks or Turks in the United Kingdom are Turkish people who have immigrated to the United Kingdom. However, the term may also refer to British-born persons who have Turkish parents or who have a Turkish ancestral background.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Immigration to Turkey</span> Overview of immigration to Turkey

Immigration to Turkey is the process by which people migrate to Turkey to reside in the country. Many, but not all, become Turkish citizens. After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and following Turkish War of Independence, an exodus by the large portion of Turkish (Turkic) and Muslim peoples from the Balkans, Caucasus, Crimea, and Greece took refuge in present-day Turkey and moulded the country's fundamental features. Trends of immigration towards Turkey continue to this day, although the motives are more varied and are usually in line with the patterns of global immigration movements. Turkey's migrant crisis is a following period since the 2010s, characterized by high numbers of people arriving and settling in Turkey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Davlos</span> Place in Famagusta District, Cyprus

Davlos is a village in the Famagusta District of Cyprus, located on the northern coast, east of Kyrenia, near Kantara Castle. It is under de facto control of Northern Cyprus, forming part of its İskele District.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Galinoporni</span> Place in Famagusta District, Cyprus

Galinoporni is a village in Cyprus, located on the southern side of the Karpas Peninsula. Galinoporni is under the de facto control of Northern Cyprus. As of 2011, it had a population of 333.

The Linobambaki or Linovamvaki were a Crypto-Christian community in Cyprus, predominantly of Catholic and Greek Orthodox descent who were persecuted for their religion during Ottoman rule. They assimilated into the Turkish Cypriot community during British rule.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turks in Europe</span> Ethnic group in Europe

The Turks in Europe refers to Turkic peoples living in Europe, particularly those of Turkish origin.

The culture of Northern Cyprus is the pattern of human activity and symbolism associated with Northern Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots. It features significant elements influenced by or developed upon the culture of Turkey, but combines these elements with a unique Cypriot approach and local traditions, as well as several other influences, such as the British and contemporary western cultures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turkish settlers in Northern Cyprus</span> Citizens of Turkey living in Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish invasion

The Turkish settlers, also referred to as the Turkish immigrants, are a group of Turkish people from Turkey who have settled in Northern Cyprus since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. It is estimated that these settlers and their descendants now make up about half the population of Northern Cyprus. The vast majority of the Turkish settlers were given houses and land that legally belong to Greek Cypriots by the government of Northern Cyprus, who is solely recognised by Turkey. The group is heterogeneous in nature and is composed of various sub-groups, with varying degrees of integration. Mainland Turks are generally considered to be more conservative than the highly secularized Turkish Cypriots, and tend to be more in favor of a two-state Cyprus. However, not all settlers support nationalist policies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the Jews in Northern Cyprus</span>

The history of the Jews in Northern Cyprus is related to the history of the Jews in Cyprus, history of the Jews in Turkey, and the history of the Jews in Greece.


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Further reading