North Cyprus

North Cyprus can also be called Northern Cyprus or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. (Just use the initials TRNC.) Having been invaded by Turkey in 1974, the territory is only recognized as an independent state by Turkey. Other countries of the world regard it as being occupied territory of the island known as the Republic of Cyprus.

Along the northern coast of the island, North Cyprus reaches from the end of the Karpas Peninsula in the north east to Cape Kormakitis over to the west. Past that there is a gap, and then there is a small enclave of more TRNC territory.

Between North Cyprus and south Cyprus there is a buffer zone that crosses the whole island. This zone runs through the city of Nicosia, the northern part of which acts as the capital of North Cyprus, and the southern part of which acts as the capital of southern Cyprus.

In 1974 Greece tried to take over the whole island. At that point the island was divided as today into north and south, but fairly peacefully so. Turkey responded by invading the northern part of the island. The Greek population were extensively evicted from there. Fearful of retaliation, the Turkish population in the south largely moved to the north. The island was formally partitioned, and in 1983 North Cyprus declared independence from the south. Turkey defends and helps support its own people in the north. North Cyprus gives permission for there to be a Turkish military presence on its territory.

The population of North Cyprus is about 300,000. The size of the territory is about 1,300 square miles or 3,350 square kilometers. The language spoken is (a dialect of) Turkish. The currency used is the Turkish lira. Electrical sockets use a British-style 3-pin plug, and vehicles drive on the left side of the road as in Britain, for the reason that will become obvious in the next section.

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In recent times the island was governed by Britain until August 1960, which was when the Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the island agreed not to push for their respective homelands to take over the island. Seats in parliament and jobs in the public sector were to be divided up according to an agreement between the Greek and Turkish communities. However, tensions soon arose, and in 1963 President Makarios (Greek) proposed making thirteen amendments to the constitution. Turkish Cypriots did not accept the proposals and went to the island's supreme court to have them disallowed, but Makarios said he would not recognize the court's decision. The court found against Makarios's proposed amendments, but, as he had said he would, he ignored the court's judgment. The supreme court was reformed in a way that suited Makarios, and it then legalized his amendments. This was on the 30th of November 1963.

The Greek element of the Cypriot parliament then planned to remove Turkish Cypriots from government and unite the island with Greece. They also proposed quickly employing violence against protesting Turkish Cypriots so they could be suppressed before any foreign nation (or nations) came to their aid. Violence broke out, and Greek paramilitary forces were employed against Turkish Cypriots. This was in December of 1963. Turkish resistance forces that were against the planned Greek takeover of the island also carried out retaliatory acts. The Greek forces took Turkish Cypriots hostage in the north of Nicosia. Dozens of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots died in the conflict.

By 1964 the Greek Cypriots were largely in control of the running of the island. Turkish Cypriots gathered together for security in armed enclaves. Turkey supported these beleaguered people. Many Turkish Cypriots simply left the island. In this way the island became divided up between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.

The supreme court found that Turkish Cypriot members of parliament had effectively been driven out of office, and that the Turkish Cypriot community had not voluntarily chosen to segregate itself from the Greek Cypriot community. However, the United Nations went against this view. It did, however, survey the damage to property that had occurred during the conflict on the island and found that most of the damage was done to Turkish Cypriot villages and houses.

In 1974 on the 15th of July the Greek Cypriots staged a military coup, backed by Greece's military regime. Nikos Sampson was installed in place of Makarios. The Republic of Cyprus was now declared to be Greek. Turkey took the coup as justification to take military action to protect Turkish Cypriots, and on the 20th of July they invaded Cyprus. Turkish military forces took over about the top (northern) forty percent of the island. After a civil war of Greek Cypriots against Turkish Cypriots, Makarios returned to power and became President again.

During the conflict about 160,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to move from the Turkish occupied northern territory to the south. In the other direction, around 45,000 Turkish Cypriots left the south for the north. Over time, more people moved from one side to the other.

Over the ensuing years it was impossible for the two sides to reach agreement on how Cyprus as a whole should be managed, or even what it should be called. Then on the 15th of November 1983 the north declared independence under the name of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The UN and the southern Republic of Cyprus did not accept this declaration of independence and they were not prepared to recognize the north as a new, separate entity.

Over the years there have been talks aimed at making the island a unified and integrated place, but so far all talks have failed.

North Cyprus is now a democratic republic that has a President and a Prime Minister. Because it is so dependent on Turkey for protection and supplies, Turkey naturally has a significant say in the TRNC's affairs.

Economically North Cyprus is mainly dependent upon tourism and education.

Its climate can be rainy in the winter and either cool or warm, and it is hot and dry in the summer.

Things To See And Do In North Cyprus

Visit Kyrenia, see its beautiful harbor, its castle, and go to the Shipwreck Museum. Have a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants around the harbor.

See turtles laying their eggs at Alagadi Turtle Beach near Kyrenia.

See Saint Hilarion Castle, Buffavento Castle and Kantara Castle.

See the wonderful countryside along the Karpas peninsula.

Go to Ledra Street in Nicosia and walk over into the southern Republic of Cyprus.

Visit the old walled town of Famagusta and the nearby Roman ruins of Salamis.

Go to Bellapais where the author Lawrence Durrell lived. See the abbey.

Europe | Cyprus | Travel

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