Country Listing

Cyprus Table of Contents


De Facto Partition, 1974-


Figure 10. Nicosia and the Green Line

About 180,000 people, an estimated one-third of the population of Cyprus, became refugees during the fighting. The buffer zone occupied by UNFICYP, between the two cease-fire lines, marked the almost total segregation of the Greek and Turkish ethnic communities. At first, tensions were high along the buffer zone, which extended for 180 kilometers across the island and was in most places 3-7 kilometers wide (although as narrow as 20 meters in the center of Nicosia) (see fig. 10). Sporadic exchanges of gunfire across the lines and infiltrations by Turkish patrols gradually subsided. By the close of 1978, the UN reported that the cease-fire lines were almost completely stabilized. During most of the 1980s, cease-fire violations were confined mostly to occasional incidents of misbehavior by individual soldiers.

All but a few hundred Greek Cypriots fled from the Turkish-occupied area in the north or were induced to leave in the period following the 1974 fighting. As of late 1989, only 611 Greek Cypriots lived under Turkish occupation, almost all of them in the Karpas Peninsula. A further 276 Maronites were in the north. Only about 100 Turkish Cypriots remained in the south. Turkish soldiers who had fought on Cyprus were allowed to settle with their families and given homes. In addition, a significant number of immigrants from Turkey had been allowed to settle in the north. Both the Turkish Cypriot refugees from the south and the settlers from Turkey were granted homes and property abandoned by Greek Cypriots. The presence of Turkish immigrants, the appropriation of property, and the fate of more than 1,600 Greek Cypriots missing since the 1974 fighting complicated the prospects of a settlement to end the division of the island. Beginning in 1976, a succession of low- and high-level meetings, intercommunal talks, and talks initiated by the UN Secretary General made progress on some issues but, as of late 1990, had failed to achieve a political solution (see Search for a New Political Formula , ch. 4).

Data as of January 1991