The population of Cyprus is estimated at 952,100, of whom 684,000 (71,8%) belong to the Greek Cypriot community, 90,100 (9,5%) to the Turkish Cypriot community and 178,000 (18,7%) are foreign nationals residing in Cyprus.
G/C community, T/C community, religious groups
The language of the Greek Cypriot (G/C) community, whose presence on the island goes back to the second half of the second millennium B.C., is Greek and the community adheres predominantly to the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus.
The language of the Turkish Cypriot (T/C) community is Turkish and the community adheres predominantly to Islam.
Under the Constitution of 1960, Armenians, Maronites and Latins are recognised as “religious groups” and, at the referendum held on 13 November 1960 all three groups, which belong to other Christian denominations and constitute 1% of the population, opted to be part of the Greek Cypriot community.
1960 – Declaration of Independence
In 1960, when Cyprus became and independent country, its estimated population was around 573,000, with the ratio of Greek Cypriots to Turkish Cypriots being at about 82:18. When the 1963 intercommunal crisis broke out, the Turkish Cypriots were living interspersed throughout the island, as before, with no majority or particular concentration in any administrative district. There were Turkish Cypriot quarters in all the main cities. Of the villages, 392 were exclusively Greek Cypriot, 123 Turkish Cypriot and 114 of mixed population; all three types of villages being situated throughout the island.
The Census of 1973 showed the population of Cyprus to be 631,778, giving an average rate of growth of 0,8% between 1960 and 1973. The ethnic distribution of the population did not change over this period and the proportion of each community remained stable, while birth rates declined and Cyprus lost a part of the natural increase of its population through emigration.
1974 – Turkish invasion – illegal settlers – T/C emigration
The impact of Turkey’s 1974 military invasion on the population was devastating. The Greek Cypriots living in what is now the Turkish-occupied area, about one third of the total Greek Cypriot community, were forced by the Turkish troops to flee to the southern, government-controlled area, while the Turkish Cypriots, who were scattered throughout the island, were compelled by Turkey to move to the Turkish-occupied area in the north. This was part of Turkey’s policy to cleanse the area under its military control of the presence of ethnic Greeks, and to impose a total segregation of the two communities.
After the invasion, the total population also declined and for a number of years remained below the figure of 1974. Gradually, with birth, death and emigration rates of Greek Cypriots becoming more normal, the population picked up and started growing again. Even so, it was only by the end of 1984 that finally the total population of Cyprus exceeded the highest figure reached in mid-1974.
However, while the population of Greek Cypriots increased gradually since 1976 and at a faster rate since 1990 due to the repatriation of Greek Cypriots, the population of the Turkish Cypriot community has been decreasing since 1985. This difference in the population growth of the two communities is exclusively due to differing migration movements, as both fertility and mortality are about the same for the two communities.
Demographic analysis and examination of the statistical data on arrivals and departures of Turkish Cypriots as well as Turks from Turkey clearly show a fall in the number of indigenous Turkish Cypriots due to their emigration abroad and their replacement by an even greater number of illegal settlers from Turkey.
According to statistical evidence, press reports and comments by Turkish Cypriot politicians, Turkish Cypriots, faced with the problems of unemployment, economic uncertainty and pressure from Turkish settlers who are given many special privileges, continue to emigrate. It is estimated that about 58,000 Turkish Cypriots emigrated in the period 1974-2005.
Taking into consideration the continuing reports on the emigration of Turkish Cypriots and the fact that every year the population increase in the occupied areas is greater than what is justified by the birth and death rates, it is evident that the number of illegal settlers from Turkey is much higher than that of the indigenous Turkish Cypriots.
According to estimates of the Statistical Service, which are also supported by statements of Turkish Cypriot politicians, the number of settlers from Turkey is estimated at around 160,000-170,000, while the Turkish Cypriot population is estimated at about 90,100 at the end of 2011. During 2004-2005 alone, it is estimated that about 43,000 settlers were transferred to the occupied areas.
For further information and updates please refer to the website of the Statistical Service of the Republic at: www.mof.gov.cy/cystat