Northern Cyprus or North Cyprus, officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (Turkish: Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti), is the northern half of Cyprus, an island in the east end of the Mediterranean. A united Cyprus became independent from The British Empire in 1960. In 1974, following years of intercommunal violence between Greeks and Turks, the Turkish military invaded the island and the Turkish Cypriot community declared the northern half independent. This contentious issue has become known as The Cyprus Dispute.
Cyprus has rarely been an independent country. Throughout its history, it was passed between various states and powers. In 1570, the Ottoman Empire conquered the island and evicted The Knights Hospitallers. The island remained a part of the Ottoman Empire for over three centuries, before the British plucked it from the Turks in 1878, following the Russo-Turkish War. This explains the island's large Turkish community.
The Cyprus Question is a long and confused one, so here is a brief summary. The original 1960 constitution of the new Republic of Cyprus was designed to give both the Greek and Turkish communities an equal share of government. Unfortunately, it also rendered the government slow and bureaucratic. In 1963, the President, Makarios III (the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, a major leader of the Greek community, albeit one who had cultivated ties with Turkey) proposed constitutional amendments that he asserted would reduce political deadlock. The Turkish Cypriot community rejected them, however, claiming that they were designed to increase the power of the Greeks at the expense of the Turks. In that same year, the Greek Cypriot wing of the government created the Akritas Plan. The plan outlined the removal of Turkish Cypriots from government, with the ultimate aim of union with Greece. Cue a decade of intercommunal violence - mostly at the expense of the Turks - that left hundreds dead and missing, sparked sectarian riots and caused Turkish Cypriots to retreat into exclaves on the northern half of the island.
The situation came to a head in 1974, when Greece - at this time led by a military dictatorship - backed a ''coup d'etat'' that deposed President Makarios and replaced him with Nikos Sampson. Turkey - citing the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee and fearing a Greek annexation of Cyprus - intervened and dispatched an invasion force to the island. The coup failed, Makarios returned to power and Greek and Turkish Cypriots fled to the south and north respectively. Initially, the Turkish Federative State of Cyprus was established, aiming to rejoin Cyprus as part of a new federation. After years of failed negotiations, Northern Cyprus unilaterally declared independence. It is currently recognised only by Turkey and is one of the main barriers to Turkey's EU membership bid.
Since the state is recognised by virtually nobody else, it cannot make international economic deals and partnerships and is miserably dependent on Turkey for aid and finance, not things that can exactly support long-term development. This is before mentioning the torturous blockade imposed by Cyprus, who got to prosper while North Cyprus languished into desolateness. For this reason, a lot of emigration ensued, something that has been happening since the British occupation but became a popular trend after the unilateral declaration to such an extent that there are more than 7 times more Turkish Cypriots living in countries other than Cyprus/North Cyprus themselves. To enforce the claim over the island, Turkey began sending up Turkish citizens, mostly soldiers and their families, to occupy the homes vacated by the emigrating Turkish Cypriots, which under international law would brand them illegal immigrants, though of course Turkey denied this. Then there is also the referendum for reunification in 2004, accepted by 65% of the Turkish Cypriots but rejected by 76% of the Greek Cypriots. Suffice to say, it is really A House Divided kind of situation.
Also notable for having the same national anthem as Turkey.
The Northern Cypriot flag
- Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
- President: Mustafa Akıncı
- Prime Minister: Ersin Tatar
- Speaker of Parliament: Teberrüken Uluçay