Country Listing

Cyprus Table of Contents


Other Ethnic Groups

Cyprus had three other ethnic groups at the beginning of the 1990s: Maronites, Armenians, and Latins. Together they numbered only about 6,000, less than 1 percent of the island's population, but they maintained social institutions of their own and were represented in organs of government. The Maronites and Armenians had come during the Byzantine period, and the Latins slightly later. The Maronites, Arabic-speaking peasants from around Syria and Lebanon, were already an important ethnic group at the time of the Turkish conquest in 1571. By the mid-twentieth century, they lived mainly in four villages in northwestern Cyprus. Armenian Cypriots were primarily urban and mercantile, most of whom had arrived after the collapse of the Armenian nationalist movement in the Caucasus at the end of World War I. Latins were concentrated among merchant families of the port towns on the southern coast and were descendants of the Lusignan and Venetian upper classes. The Ottomans had suppressed Roman Catholicism, and Latins were largely Greek Orthodox, but retained their French or Italian names. Some Latins reverted to the group's original religion.

Data as of January 1991