The Ethnic Composition Of Cyprus

People walk down the street in Nicosia, Cyprus. Editorial credit: kirill_makarov /
People walk down the street in Nicosia, Cyprus. Editorial credit: kirill_makarov /

Cyprus is an island nation found in the east of Mediterranean. It is the third most populous and the third-largest island in the Mediterranean region. The country shares its maritime borders with Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. The citizens of Cyprus are called Cypriots, and they are primarily separated into two major cultural communities of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. The two share common cultural characteristics, but they uphold their separate identities, which stems from their differences in language, religion, ethnicity, and their close association to their respective homeland. Before the long-standing disagreement erupted in 1964, the Greeks accounted for 78% of the population, and the Turks accounted for 17% of the population. Other communities which included the Maronites and Armenians among others accounted for 5% of the population and they were widely dispersed across the island.

Greek Cypriots

Greek Cypriots are the largest ethnic group in the island nation of Cyprus. In the census that was conducted in 2011, there were 659,119 people in Cyprus who identified themselves as Greek Cypriots, and they accounted for 78% of the country's population. This does not include those living in the northern part occupied by Turkey which is not recognized as a country by the majority of countries around the world. The religion of the majority of Greek Cypriots is the Church of Cyprus which belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church. According to the Constitution of 1960, the term Greek Cypriots could also include the Armenians, Maronites, and adherents of the Latin rite Catholics, who opted to be included as Greek communities as opposed to Turkish when they were given the option to vote.

Turkish Cypriots

Turkish Cypriots refers to an ethnic community in Cyprus who trace their origin back to the Ottoman Empire. In 1571, approximately 30,000 Turkish settlers were given land in Cyprus, and there were more additional settlers in Cyprus until the end of the Ottoman Empire. Although most of Turkish Cypriots inhabit Northern Cyprus, there are many of them living in the diaspora. The Turkish Cypriots in the diaspora had its roots at a time when the British Empire took ownership of the island from the Ottoman Empire. This is the time when most Turkish Cypriots immigrated to the UK and Turkey for economic and political reasons. The immigration increased significantly between the 1950s and 1960s as a result of the increased in the communal violence, and most Turkish Cypriots had to live in enclaves in Cyprus. The Turkish-Cypriots speak Cypriot Turkish language, which is essentially the same as standard Turkish language with a strong influence from the English and Cypriot Greek languages.

Maronite Cypriots

The Maronite Cypriots are adherents of the Maronite Catholic church of Cyprus, and they trace their ancestry to the middle ages who emigrated from the present-day region of Lebanon. Some of them speak a language which borrows heavily from Turkish, Arabic, and Greek languages, and recently it has been classified as a variant of the Arabic language. The speakers of the language are mainly from the region of Kormakitis, and they are members of the West Syriac Rite, which is considered to belong to the Eastern Catholic Church.

Indians in Cyprus

Indians in Cyprus include the community of Indians who trace their origin to India as well as other Indian expatriates working in the country. Cyprus is home to the small community of Indians compared to other countries in the region. They are estimated to be about 2,000 Indians in the country who are engaged in the fields of ICT and shipping industry. The majority of them are working in offshore companies. Amdocs is a multinational company with an office in Limassol and employs more than 400 Indians who work as software programmers and Engineers. The community of Indians also includes a number of students of Indian origin who have come to Cyprus to study.

Armenians in Cyprus

Armenian Cypriots are the ethnic group in Cyprus who trace their ancestry to the Armenians. They are a minority group with their own churches and schools and they speak their own language. Although the Armenian people in Cyprus are relatively few, they have had a huge impact on the Armenian people and the Armenians in the diaspora. Cyprus had strong connections during the middle ages with the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, and the Ganchvor monastery had a significant presence in the east coast of Cyprus particularly in Famagusta. Presently, it is estimated that Armenian Cypriots are about 3,500 and about 1,000 more than non-Cypriot Armenians. 

The Ethnic Composition Of Cyprus

2Other (includes Maronite, Armenian, Turkish-Cypriot)1%

More in World Facts