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Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus. It is situated on Akrotiri Bay, on the southern coast of the island. Currently Limassol is one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean transit trade. According to Goodwin, the name Limassol or Lemesos derives from the word “nemesos,” meaning “one found in the middle.” However, many Greek Cypriots believe that the city was named after a Byzantine general, Nemesion (or Nemesion the Martyr). Turkish Cypriots adopted the alternative name Leymosun. The latter name has been in use since the Ottoman period.
From the Ottoman period the town was inhabited by both Muslims and Christians. Greek Cypriots always constituted the majority of the population. As can be seen from the Ottoman census of 1831, Greek Cypriots comprised almost 53% of the population. This percentage increased significantly during the British period, rising to 75% in 1891. The same percentage prevailed during the first half of the 20th century. It slightly declined to 71% in 1960 when the island gained its independence. It is important to note that in 1960 there were also 5,296 British and 916 persons of other ethnic and religious backgrounds (Armenians, Maronites, and Latins, etc.) residing in the town, making it a very cosmopolitan place.
No one was displaced from the town during the 1950s emergency years. However, during the intercommunal strife of 1963-64, many Turkish Cypriots from nearby villages or suburbs fled their homes and sought refuge in the Turkish Cypriot quarter of the town. For instance, Richard Patrick claims that, after fighting broke out in Limassol on 9 February 1964, about 400 Turkish Cypriots, almost 7% of the Turkish Cypriot population of Limassol, were forced from their homes and became displaced within the Turkish Cypriot quarter. He also recorded that in 1971 there were still 217 displaced Turkish Cypriots residing in the Turkish Cypriot neighborhood of the city. Patrick also notes that the Turkish Cypriot quarter of the town was not demarcated by fortifications as in Nicosia(074), Larnaca(361) or Paphos(329). He explains that “although there was fighting in and around the Turk-Cypriot quarter, the establishment of an effective Political Liaison Committee made the demarcation of an armed cease-fire line unnecessary to contain and prevent further inter-communal violence.” However, the same author also claims that the British Bases played a huge role in keeping the peace: “Part of the explanation for the relative inter-communal calmness for Limassol might be found in these British connections. The British UNFICYP commander responsible for Limassol Region may have been able to imply that local violence would have had an adverse effect on the amount of economic support that the Limassol communities received from Akrotiri” (1976, 307).
It should be noted, however, that although the Turkish quarter of Limassol was not an enclave strictly speaking, it was guarded by around 950 Turkish Cypriot Fighters who, for reasons of safety, did not wear their uniforms in the streets. They had their own administration, including a radio station and weekly “official” newspaper, indicating that the Turkish quarter was run much like enclaves in the rest of the island (Fehmi 2003, 104-106).
On 20 July 1974, in response to the Turkish military offensive in the island, fierce fighting began in and around the Turkish quarter of the town. The quarter was attacked from all sides, and Turkish Cypriot Fighters returned fire. After six hours and 36 deaths, the Turkish Cypriot Fighters surrendered, and all men of fighting age were taken as prisoners of war. Almost 2,700 men were held for 100 days, first in the Limassol stadium and then in empty school buildings, before the prisoner exchange in which the men were released and sent to the north. While the men were being held prisoner, their families attempted to escape to the north either by purchasing transit—an often dangerous enterprise—or by taking refuge in the Akrotiri British Sovereign Base Area. In January 1975, those who had taken refuge in Akrotiri were finally sent to the north via Turkey. This involved sending them to Adana by air, from where they were sent by boat at intervals back to north Cyprus. Most of the displaced Turkish Cypriots from Limassol later settled in the city of Kyrenia/Girne(236) and in its vicinity, though many also were resettled in the Famagusta(140) area, especially in Varosha and Morphou/Güzelyurt(072). The total number of Turkish Cypriot displaced persons from Limassol in 1975 was approximately 6,500-7,000 (6,115 in the 1960 Cypriot census).
Currently the city is the most cosmopolitan in Cyprus. Not only did Limassol serve as a reception center for many displaced Greek Cypriots from the north, for whom large housing developments were built in areas surrounding the city, but it also later became a reception center for Lebanese refugees fleeing the war in their country in the 1980s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Limassol attracted many immigrants from former Soviet countries, especially Russia. There is also a small Turkish Cypriot community (approximately 300 persons), primarily Roma, who began immigrating from the north in the late 1990s and were settled in houses in the old Turkish Cypriot quarter of the city. The last census of 2001 put Limassol’s population at 94,250, but the population can easily go up to 150,000 by including the nearby municipalities such as Kato Polemidia and Germasogia.
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