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Agios Nikolaos, or Aynikola, is a village located on the southwest foothills of the Troodos mountain range, twenty kilometers north of Avdimou and four kilometers northeast of Arsos. Agios Nikolaos means “Saint Nicholas” in Greek. Turkish Cypriots called the village Aynikola until 1958, when they adopted the alternative name Esentepe, meaning “windy hill.”
As may be seen from the above chart, Agios Nikolaos was a mixed village with a clear Turkish Cypriot majority until 1960. In 1891 Turkish Cypriots constituted 93% of the population. At the end of the first half of the 20th century, the Turkish Cypriot proportion of the population rose to 97%. During the first half of the 20th century the overall population of the village increased from 359 to 517. However, the 1960 census records a significant drop to 415.
No one was displaced from this village either during the emergency years of the 1950s, or during the intercommunal strife of 1963-64. However, during the latter period, the village served as a reception center for some displaced Turkish Cypriots who fled nearby villages such as Kidasi/Ceyhan(310) and Kedares. Richard Patrick recorded only 17 displaced Turkish Cypriots still living in Agios Nikolaos/Esentepe in 1971. He also noted that the total population of the village in that year was 550.
In response to the Turkish military offensive of 20 July, Greek Cypriot forces attacked the village on 22 July 1974. The Turkish Cypriot Fighters defended the village for almost two days but eventually fled and sought refuge in the mountains. The Greek Cypriot forces entered the village after two days of fierce fighting and arrested all the Turkish Cypriot villagers. After some of the Fighters surrendered their guns, the villagers were released. Following this event, most of the inhabitants fled the village secretly over the mountains to the Turkish-controlled part of the island or to the Akrotiri British Sovereign Base Area. Many purchased their freedom from Greek Cypriot soldiers or taxi drivers who took them to the ceasefire line or to the British Bases.
By the time the Vienna agreement was signed, almost 400 Turkish Cypriots from Agios Nikolaos/Esentepe had already made their way to the northern part of the divide. Eventually the remaining 127 persons were evacuated to the north under the escort of UNFICYP on 16 August 1975. Approximately 450 of the Agios Nikolaos/Esentepe Turkish Cypriots were resettled in Agios Amvrosios(207) village in the Kyrenia district, changing its name to Esentepe. Those who preferred the cities were given houses in the towns of Nicosia(074), Kyrenia(236), Famagusta(140) and Morphou(072). The number of Agios Nikolaos/Esentepe Turkish Cypriots who were displaced after 1974 was around 500-550 (532 in 1973).
After the departure of the Turkish Cypriots, Agios Nikolaos village was used for the settlement of displaced Greek Cypriots who had fled from their homes in the north during the war. The 2001 census recorded only 74 people living there.
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.
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- Mavrogordato, Alexander (1901), “Report and general abstracts of the census of 1901, taken on the 1st April, 1901,” Nicosia: Government Printing Office.
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Perry, Frederic W., 1884. Report on the Census of Cyprus 1881, Eyre and Spottiswoode, London.
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- 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.
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- 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.
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- 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.
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- Yorgancıoğlu, Oğuz: Kıbrıs’ta Türkçe Yer Adları ve Veriliş Yöntemleri Üzerine Bir Araştırma Kıbrıs Araştırmaları Dergisi, Cilt : 2, Sayı : 3, Yıl : 96