Country Listing

Cyprus Table of Contents


Land Use and Tenure

At the end of the 1980s, the total area of the "TRNC" was measured at 2,496,370 hectares. Of this area, 56.7 percent was agricultural land, 19.5 percent forest, 4.96 percent uncultivated, 10.68 percent occupied by towns, villages, and roads, and 8.16 percent unusable. In 1975, of the agricultural land, 50 percent was cultivated; by 1987, some 68.7 percent was cultivated.

The "TRNC" recognized three categories of land ownership: private, state, and communal. The greatest amount of land was privately owned. Unrestricted legal ownership of private land in Cyprus dated only from 1946, when the British administration enacted a new land law, the Immovable Property (Tenure, Registration, and Valuation) Law, which superseded the land code in effect under the Ottomans. Under the Ottoman code, all land belonged to the state, and those who worked the land were in effect hereditary tenants whose right to the land was usufructuary. Land could be transmitted from father to son, but could not otherwise be disposed of without official permission. The 1946 British law ended this tradition, stipulating that all state land properly acquired by individuals became their private property. Communal land remained as before, but all unoccupied and vacant land not lawfully held became the property of the state. As a result, virtually all forests become state property.

The Muslim religious foundation Evkaf Idaresi (Turkish Religious Trust, usually known as Evkaf) was the largest private owner of property in the "TRNC." Before the events of 1974, Evkaf owned 1 to 2 percent of the island's total farmland. These holdings dated back to Ottoman times and were mainly donations in perpetuity from members of the Turkish Cypriot community. Much of Evkaf's land was located in parts of the island that remained under the control of the Republic of Cyprus.

Data as of January 1991