Country Listing

Cyprus Table of Contents


Urban-Rural Composition

When the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, 60 percent of Turkish Cypriots lived in villages. The rest lived in the five urban centers of Nicosia (Lefkosa), Famagusta (Gazimagusa), Larnaca, Limassol, and Paphos. Few Turkish Cypriots lived in Kyrenia (Girne). During the period of intercommunal conflict, the urban-rural distribution of the Turkish Cypriot population was unclear because of the thousands of refugees living in tents and temporary shelters. After the de facto division of the island in 1974, however, there was a gradual change in the urban-rural ratio. By the late 1980s, 51 percent of the Turkish Cypriot population lived in urban areas. Given the small number of Turkish Cypriots, however, urban centers were not large. As of 1987, the Turkish Cypriot section of Nicosia had only about 38,000 inhabitants, Famagusta 20,000, and Kyrenia 7,100.

One reason for increased urbanization was the resettlement program after 1974, which placed refugees from territory controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus in houses previously occupied by Greek Cypriots in the urban areas of Kyrenia, Morphou (Güzelyurt), and Famagusta. Immigrants from Turkey were largely settled in villages.

Resettlement was an extensive process that directly involved about two-thirds of the Turkish Cypriot population. According to some estimates, about 60,000 Turkish Cypriots moved from their places of residence following the establishment of a cease fire in 1974. Most managed to move behind Turkish military lines on their own. Others, however, required international agreements or diplomatic initiatives to join their ethnic community. About 9,400 Turkish Cypriots took refuge in the British base areas. Another 8,100 came to territory controlled by Turkish forces after negotiations between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders under United Nations (UN) auspices resulted in an agreement to exchange populations. While all Turkish Cypriots moved to areas controlled by their community, not all Greek Cypriots returned to areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus. Most of these Greek Cypriots lived in the Karpas Peninsula.

The growth in the urban sector was also a reflection of a changed Turkish Cypriot economy. In 1960 agriculture employed nearly half of all Turkish Cypriots. By 1990 this sector accounted for well under a third of the work force, while about half of economically active Turkish Cypriots earned their livelihoods in the service sector and one-fifth in construction and industry. Except for agricultural work, most employment was in urban areas.

Despite the marked decline in agricultural employment, at the end of the 1980s, 49 percent of Turkish Cypriots still lived in areas classified as rural. Urbanization was not as extensive as suggested by employment figures. The discrepancy resulted from the small size of the "TRNC." Many of those who worked in urban areas were able to remain in their villages because the distance between most villages and urban centers was less than an hour's drive by car. Workers did not migrate to areas of employment, but instead commuted. An effect of commuting between urban and rural areas was that other urban developments, such as changes in attitudes toward education and social values, were more easily diffused than otherwise would have been the case.

Data as of January 1991