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Nicosia, Lefkosia (in Greek) or Lefkoşa (in Turkish), is the capital and the largest city of both the Republic of Cyprus and the self-proclaimed and unrecognized state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (only recognized by Turkey). The city is situated on the Pedieos river and is located more or less in the centre of the island; it is the seat of “governments” as well as the main business centre. Nicosia is the capital of the Nicosia district on both sides of the divide.

Following the violent riots in the 1950s, the British erected the first barbed wire line to separate the two communities in 1956 in an attempt to prevent fighting. However, following the intercommunal fighting in January 1958, Turkish Cypriots proclaimed their own, separate municipality. Separate municipalities were recognized in the 1960 constitution but also caused a great deal of resentment amongst the Greek Cypriots. This resentment turned into full-fledged fighting in December 1963. Nevertheless, the intercommunal violence of the 1960s served to fully cement, the already existing division between the Greek Cypriot neighborhoods in the south and Turkish Cypriot neighborhoods in the north.

An attempted coup to unite the island with Greece in 1974 led to a Turkish offensive, that has since divided not only the capital city, but the entire country, with Turkish Cypriots claiming the northern part of Nicosia as the capital of their own state. On 24 April 2003, Turkish Cypriot authorities suddenly opened the Ledra Palace checkpoint, to the great surprise of the world. As part of the efforts to reunify the island, a symbolic wall --within the walled city of Nicosia-- at Ledra Street was also opened in 2008. Nicosia retains the distinction of being the world's last divided capital. The population of the two Nicosia municipalities is 50,000 each; however when the municiplalities comprising the greater Nicosia area are included, the population in the south can easily go over 200,000 and if you include the Gönyeli municipality in the north the population can surpass 80,000. The chart below includes only the Nicosia municipalities, not the new suburbs which have their own municipalities.
Historical Population:

Nicosia was always a mixed town. According to the Ottoman census of 1831,Muslims constituted almost 57% of the population of the city of Nicosia. However, this proportion declined to 43 % by 1891. Forty years later, the 1931 census shows that the non-Muslim proportion had increased further to 67%. It is important to note that the non-Muslim category included all the other Christian communities living in Nicosia,, such as British, Armenians, Maronites and Latins.. In 1946, the British began conducting the censuses of Nicosia by separating the other Christians into a new category, rather than registering them all under the non-Muslim category. In the 1946 census, the Greek Orthodox community constituted 60%, the Turkish Cypriots 30% and the other communities 10% of the population of Nicosia. The first census of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960 put the Greek Cypriot population at 60%, the Turkish Cypriot population at 32% and others at 8%.


As explained above, the first conflict-related displacement took place during the intercommunal disturbances of the 1950s. As a result, many Greek Cypriots left the Ayios Loukas sector of Nicosia and sought refuge in the Greek Cypriot part. By the same token,the Turkish Cypriots from the Omeriye and Tahtakale neighborhoods also fled and moved to the Turkish Cypriot controlled part of Nicosia. By 1960 north of the city was Turkish and, apart from Tahtakala neighborhood, southern part of the city was now consisting of only Greek Cypriots.

The second conflict related displacement took place in December 1963. All the Turkish Cypriots of Tahtakala evacuated the neighborhood and moved into more secure neighborhoods of north Nicosia. On the other hand, all the Armenians (200 persons) living in Arapahmet, Köşklüçiftlik and Kumsal neighborhoods fled their houses and moved to the Greek Cypriot part of the city. During this period north Nicosia also became a very important reception center for all the displaced Turkish Cypriots coming from the suburbs or nearby villages. Patrick noted that, during the December 1963 fighting in Nicosia, Turkish Cypriots fled from some neighborhoods of the “old city” as well as from the suburbs of Strovolos(097), Aglangia(011), Omorfita(077), and Trakhonas(100). A reasonable estimate of the number of displaced Turkish Cypriots from these areas is about 7,000, or roughly 30 percent of the Turkish Cypriot population of the Greater Nicosia. Most of these displaced persons moved to the Turkish Cypriot quarter of the “old city” or northwards to Ortakeuy(080), Hamid Mandres(039) and Guenyeli(038).

The third conflict related displacement took place when all the Greek Cypriots fled the northern part of the city from the advancing Turkish army. The neighborhoods which were evacuated were Omorfita(077) and Trakhonas(100). The number of the Trakhonas(100) Greek Cypriots who were displaced in 1974 was around 2,500 (2,361 in 1960). Additionally approximately 2,200 (2,160 in the 1960 census) Omorfita Greek Cypriots were displaced from their homes.  

Books and Reports:
  • Colonial Office (1893), “Cyprus: Report on the census of Cyprus, taken 6th April 1891,” Mediterranean, No. 39. London: Colonial Office.
  • Department of Statitstics and Research, 1997. Estimates of Turkish Cypriots and Settlers from Turkey, Ministry of Finance [Republic of Cyprus], Nicosia.
  • Fehmi, Hasan (2003), “Güney’de Kalan Değerlerimiz,” Lefkoşa (Nicosia): Özyay Matbaacılık.
  • Fellahoğlu, Esat (2010), “Ulusal Direnişte Baf Köyleri,” İstanbul: Bayrak Matbaacılık.
  • Giray, Halil: KKTC Yerleşim Birimleri, Yürürlükteki ve Eski İsimler Listesi KKTC İskân Bakanlığı : KKTC Coğrafi İsimler Kataloğu : (Cilt – I and II), Lefkoşa.
  • Goodwin, Jack C. (1984), “An Historical Toponymy of Cyprus (Forth edition),” Nicosia (copy number 6).
  • Hart-Davis, C. H (1922), “Report and general abstracts of the census of 1921, taken on the 24th April, 1921,” London: Waterlow & Sons.
  • Hart-Davis, C. H (1932), “Report of the Census of 1931,” Nicosia: Cyprus Government Printing Office.
  • Hatay, Mete, (2005). “Beyond Numbers: An Inquiery into the Political Integration of the Turkish ‘Settlers’ in Northern Cyprus,” PRIO/Cyprus Centre Report  4/2005, Nicosia/Oslo, PRIO.
  • Hill, Sir George, (1952). A History of Cyprus, Vol. IV., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Ioannides, Christos P., 1991. “In Turkey’s Image: The Transformation of Occupied Cyprus into a Turkish Province,” Aristide D. Caratzas, New York.
  • KKTC Başbakanlık Devlet Planlama Örgütü Müsteşarlığı, “15 Aralık 1996 Genel Nüfus Sayımı Sonuçları (Özet), 26, November 1997,” Nicosia.
  • Mavrogordato, Alexander (1901), “Report and general abstracts of the census of 1901, taken on the 1st April, 1901,” Nicosia: Government Printing Office.
  • Mavrogordato, Alexander (1912), “Report and general abstracts of the census of 1911, taken on the 2nd April, 1911,” London:  Waterlow & Sons.
  • Menardos, Simos (2001), Τοπωνημικαι και Λαογραφικαι Μελεται (Topographical and Folkloric Studies), Nicosia: Centre for Scientific Studies
    Perry, Frederic W., 1884. Report on the Census of Cyprus 1881, Eyre and Spottiswoode, London.
  • Republic of Cyprus, 1961. “Census of Population and Agriculture, 1960: Volume I: Population by Location, Race, and Sex,” Nicosia
  • TRNC 2006 census preliminary results can be found at:  www.devplan.org
    TRNC Prime Ministry State Planning Organisation Statistics and Research Department, Census of Population: Social and Economic Characteristics of Population, December 15, 1996, TRNC Prime Ministry, Nicosia, 1999.
  • Standing Cypriot Commission for the Standardization of Geographical Names (2007), “Οδηγος Τυποποιησης Ονοματων (Guide to Standardized Names),” Nicosia: Ministry of Education and Culture.
  • Ministry of Finance (1973), “Micro-Census (April 1973) Population by Village and Ethnic Group, Volume I.” Nicosia: Department of Statistics and Research.
  • Özad, Murat Hüsnü (2002), “Baf ve Mücadele Yılları,” Lefkoşa (Nicosia): Akdeniz Haber Ajansı Yayınları.
  • Patrick, Richard (1976), “Political Geography and the Cyprus Conflict: 1963-1971,” Department of Geography, Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo.
  • Percival, D.A. (1949), “Census of population and agriculture 1946 report,” Nicosia: Cyprus Government Printing Office.
  • Republic of Cyprus (1962), “Census of population and agriculture, 1960,” Nicosia: Government Printing Office.
  • Republic of Cyprus (1984), “Census of population 1982,” Nicosia: Department of Statistics and Research, Ministry of Finance.
  • Republic of Cyprus (2003), “Census of population 2001,” Nicosia: Department of Statistics and Research, Ministry of Finance.
  • St John-Jones, L. W., 1983. “The Population of Cyprus: Demographic Trends and  Socio-Economic Influences” (with a foreword by W. H. Morris-Jones), Maurice  Temple, Smith Limited, London.
  • T.C. Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlüğü (2000), “Osmanlı İdaresinde Kıbrıs (Nüfus-Arazi Dağılımı ve Türk Vakıfları),” Ankara: Osmanlı Arşivi Daire Başkanlığı Yayın No: 43.
  • Yorgancıoğlu,  Oğuz: Kıbrıs’ta Türkçe Yer Adları ve Veriliş Yöntemleri Üzerine Bir Araştırma Kıbrıs Araştırmaları Dergisi, Cilt : 2, Sayı : 3, Yıl : 96


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