22 Oct 2016 Northern Cyprus demographics: an update

This week the topic of the demographics of a united Cyprus has been back in the news again. President Nicos Anastasiades said that 40,000 people of Turkish origin could stay in Cyprus after a settlement (he quickly corrected a slip of the tongue where he mentioned 90,000). It is therefore an appropriate moment to pick up what has been said and update some of the figures I presented in April 2015, in an article called ‘Northern Cyprus demographics: who is voting?’

Let’s walk through some of those numbers again and update them.

We know that the Turkish Cypriot position is that all people who hold ‘TRNC citizenship’ should be citizens of a united Cyprus. According to the latest figures, the resident population (excluding the Turkish military, which is not given) was 313,623 in mid-2014. Separately, other figures cite the number of ‘TRNC’ citizens today at around 193,000.


How many people of Turkish Cypriot origin are there? In 2011 those with ‘TRNC’ citizenship only (ie were not also citizens of Turkey or elsewhere) numbered 136,362. Another 3,693 had dual ‘TRNC’-UK citizenship.

It is a reasonable assumption that the vast majority of ‘TRNC’-only and ‘TRNC’-UK citizens combined are people of Turkish Cypriot origin, since those of Turkish and other origins presumably have an interest in keeping citizenship of a recognised state.

If we assume that the number of ‘TRNC’-only and ‘TRNC’-UK citizens grew at the same pace as the overall number citizens, then their number today could be just under 142,000, compared with 140,055 in 2011.

A figure of around 142,000 people of Turkish Cypriot origin is not incompatible with numbers cited by Anastasiades this week. He said that 117,545 Turkish Cypriots hold Republic of Cyprus passports or identity cards. That is about 83% of the combined ‘TRNC’-only and ‘TRNC’-UK citizens. The other 20% could well be either too old to travel or too young to hold a passport. Indeed, he said around 12,500 Turkish Cypriots have no Republic of Cyprus documents.

The census showed that those who had dual ‘TRNC’-Turkey citizenship amounted to 38,085. If we assume that this number grew at the same pace as the total number of citizens, then they now number about 38,600. This is probably the 40,000 people of Turkish origin to whom Anastasiades was referring.

Non-‘TRNC’ citizens amount to around 120,000, compared with about 180,000 non-citizens in the southern part of the island. These non-‘TRNC’ are mainly university students, as the vast majority of the 80,000 people studying at Turkish Cypriot universities come from abroad. The remainder, not unlike the south, are mainly construction workers who come and go, cleaners from third countries and others doing work that Cypriots no longer have the appetite for.