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North Cyprus Demographics


Understanding the North Cyprus demographics provides insight into the unique history and culture of this internationally unrecognized country. To gain perspective on the people who call North Cyprus home, we must examine trends in population size, ethnic composition, religious identity, and migration over recent decades.


North Cyprus Demographics

As an internationally unrecognized country, North Cyprus demographics can be difficult to track accurately. However, here is what we know about the population and people who call Northern Cyprus home.

Northern Cyprus has a total population of around 350,000 people. The majority of residents are Turkish Cypriots, making up around 80% of the population. However, in recent decades the demographics have been shifting as more Turkish migrants from mainland Turkey have moved to Northern Cyprus. Some estimates put the number of Turkish migrants at over 100,000 people, meaning they now make up around 30% of the population.


Turkish Cypriots

The indigenous population of Northern Cyprus is Turkish Cypriots. As North Cyprus demographics have changed with immigration trends, Turkish Cypriots now comprise around 50% of the population rather than the historic majority.

Turkish Cypriots are culturally and linguistically similar to mainland Turkish people, though they have a distinct identity all their own after centuries of living on the island. The Turkish Cypriot dialect contains influences from Greek and English as well due to Cyprus's unique history under rule from various empires.


Turkish Migrants

Since the 1970s, the government has encouraged immigration from Turkey to bolster the population and workforce of Northern Cyprus. Migrants have come from many parts of Turkey. The Turkish government has provided financial incentives for Turks to relocate to Northern Cyprus, including subsidized housing and tax breaks. Migrants have mainly settled in and around cities like Nicosia and Kyrenia and work in all areas of the economy, including tourism, education, construction and healthcare.


Religious Demographics

Religiously, almost all residents of Northern Cyprus are Sunni Muslims. Around 99% of the population identifies as Muslim, with most being Hanafi Sunnis who follow a moderate version of Islam.

The religious makeup reflects Northern Cyprus's status as part of the former Ottoman Empire, with Islam being the dominant faith since the empire ruled the island from 1571 to 1878. Mosques are common sights in cities and towns, and calls to prayer can be heard throughout the day.


Other Minorities

Aside from Turkish and Turkish Cypriot residents, there are small numbers of other minorities in Northern Cyprus.

One such group is Maronites, who are Cypriot Christians of both Greek and Turkish heritage who speak Arabic. Numbering only around 500 people, the Maronites face assimilation into the Muslim majority population.

A small Greek Cypriot population also remains in Rizokarpaso and Morphou after the Turkish invasion of 1974. Numbering just 1,500 people, they are remnants of the original Greek Cypriot residents of northern Cyprus who did not flee during the conflict.

Immigration from other countries has also slightly diversified the North Cyprus demographics. For example, there is a community of around 1,000 British expatriates retired in Northern Cyprus who have permanent residence. Workers from countries like Russia, Somalia, and the Philippines have also added their own multicultural influence.


Population Trends

The United Nations does not acknowledge Northern Cyprus as a nation making it challenging to find demographic data, for North Cyprus. However certain trends can still be observed.

The population growth rate averages about 1 2% per year largely driven by migrants and their higher birth rates. Life expectancy has been on the rise. Is now comparable, to that of Cyprus standing at approximately 78 years.

Urbanization continues to progress with cities expanding while rural towns and villages are gradually losing population. The primary urban areas include Nicosia, Kyrenia and Famagusta each boasting populations exceeding 50,000 residents.


Final Thought

As immigration from Turkey persists, the North Cyprus demographics will likely evolve with an even stronger Turkish influence. Many longtime residents, in North Cyprus value their Turkish Cypriot identity as a way to safeguard their heritage.

The recognition of Northern Cyprus on a scale could influence migration patterns and population dynamics in the region. North Cyprus serves as a mirror reflecting shifts, including changes in ethnic backgrounds, religions and cultural fusion, over time. Exploring the demographics of North Cyprus offers perspectives into its history and potential paths forward.