North Cyprus  

Greek-Cypriot People


Greek Orthodox icon from Apostolos Barnabas Monastery

Click to listen to a Greek Orthodox chanting 

The people of Cyprus represent two main ethnic groups, Greek and Turkish. The Greek Cypriots, who constitute about four-fifths of the island's population, descended from a mixture of aboriginal inhabitants and immigrants from the Peloponnese who colonized Cyprus starting about 1200 BC and assimilated subsequent settlers up to the 16th century.

The language of the majority is Greek. English is widely spoken and understood as a second language. Illiteracy is extremely low, the result of an excellent educational system.

  Apostolos Barnabas Monastery - Engomi, Famagusta
Greek Cypriots are primarily Eastern Orthodox Christians. Their church, the Church of Cyprus, is autocephalous (not under the authority of any patriarch); this privilege was granted to Archbishop Anthemius in AD 488 by the Byzantine emperor Zeno. 

Under the Ottoman Empire, the archbishop of the Church of Cyprus was made responsible for the secular as well as the religious behaviour of the Orthodox community and given the title ethnarch.

Greek-Cypriots in North Cyprus 
In the aftermath of the events of 1974 and subsequent Population Exchange Agreement, most of the Greek-Cypriot residents in North Cyprus moved to South Cyprus whereas most of the Turkish-Cypriot residents in the South moved to North Cyprus. However, a small minority of Greek-Cypriots chose to stay in their ancestral homes, mostly those in the villages of the remote Karpas peninsula. Their number ranges between 700-800. 

Apostolos Andreas monastery, an important religious place to the Orthodox Greek-Cypriots remains open for service and is visited in numbers by worshipers from South Cyprus on religious festivals such as Christmas and Easter according to an agreement reached by the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot authorities under the auspices of the United Nations. This agreement also allows Turkish-Cypriots from the North to visit the holy Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca on Muslim holy days.


  People & Life