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Cyprus Table of Contents


Class Structure

The Turkish Cypriot class structure changed markedly after 1974. During the colonial and pre-1963 independence years, most Turkish Cypriots lived in rural areas and engaged in farming. Others living in urban areas were mostly employed by the civil service. Very few Turkish Cypriots engaged in business. Under these conditions, one could find the following social classes in the Turkish Cypriot community: large landowners (descendants of the Ottoman administrators), bureaucrats, a small class of professionals, and peasants/farmers.

Once Turkish Cypriots had created their own government and economy, they began to enter new occupations, altering the class structure of their community. At the beginning of the 1990s, there were many more Turkish Cypriot businessmen than a generation earlier, and many others were highly trained professionals because of the marked expansion of higher education. The old landed aristocracy no longer accounted for all wealthy Turkish Cypriots. This class was joined by the new rich, with economic ties to the outside world. While such developments should have contributed to the rise of middle-income groups among the Turkish Cypriots, the economic difficulties faced by the new state (most significantly high inflation) seriously eroded the real incomes of the middle class, most of whom were civil servants.

At the beginning of the 1990s, most Turkish Cypriots were neither wealthy nor had professional occupations. The majority were wage earners, working in small production units or at routine clerical and service jobs. About one-fourth of the work force was engaged in farming.

Data as of January 1991