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Famagusta/Gazi Mağusa (Ammochostos in Greek) is a city situated on the east coast of Cyprus and is the administrative center of the Famagusta district. It is located in a bay named after the city. There are many theories as regards the origin of the name of Famagusta. The most widely accepted one is that it derives from the Greek “Ammochostos,” meaning “buried in sand.” Sir Harry Luke claimed that the Lusignan rulers changed the name from Ammochostos to Famagusta in the medieval period. Since 1571, Famagusta has been called Mağusa by the local Ottoman Muslims (Turkish Cypriots). However, in commemoration of the Turkish Cypriot-occupied walled city’s refusal to surrender to Greek Cypriot forces in 1974, Turkish Cypriots renamed the city Gazi Mağusa, meaning “Famagusta the war hero.”
Famagusta has been the site of an important commercial harbor since the medieval period. Although the harbor lost its importance during the Ottoman period, it regained its fame after the British arrival. By 1960 most local exports were shipped from Famagusta harbor. Meanwhile, Kato and Pano Varosha, villages then on the outskirts of the city, had become important citrus production areas. While the old walled city of Famagusta was primarily inhabited by Turkish Cypriots, these areas outside the city’s walls were mostly inhabited by Greek Cypriots. From independence in 1960 to the 1974 war, the Greek Cypriot-controlled part of Famagusta flourished economically. During this time, the town developed toward the southwest of Varosha as an important tourist destination. Before 1974, over 50% of the total touristic accommodations of Cyprus were situated in Varosha, while during the same period the harbor of Famagusta continued to hold its position as the main trade port. According to Jack Goodwin, in 1973, 1,810 ships called at Famagusta, while Limassol had 811 and Larnaca 196. By 1973, the total general cargo and 49% of the total passenger traffic to and from the island used Famagusta’s harbor. Along with the touristic development and harbor, light industry was also developed, making products such as clothing, footwear, plastics, light machinery and transport equipment, tobacco and various food and beverages.
As can be seen from the chart above, Famagusta was a mixed town until 1974. Although the town was mixed, both communities were almost entirely segregated, living in different homogenous neighborhoods. Since the Ottoman period, while Turkish Cypriots constituted the majority of the population within the old walled city, Greek Cypriots mainly lived in the areas of Kato and Pano Varosha, outside the old town. The first British census of 1881 recorded that Muslims (mainly in the old city) constituted 40% of the total population (including Kato and Pano Varosha). During the British period, the total population of the city showed a remarkable upward trend, rising from 2,564 in 1881, to 34,774 in 1960. Beside the overall population increase, the Greek Cypriot percentage of the population also significantly increased, rising from 60% in 1881 to 70% in 1960. The Turkish Cypriot proportion, on the other hand, dropped to 17.5%, from 40% in 1881. The 1960 census also recorded that other ethnic groups—such as Armenians, Maronites, and Latins—and other nationalities (mainly British) also constituted an important component of the population of the city (11.4%).
The first recorded conflict-related displacement took place in 1963-64, when almost 500 Turkish Cypriots then living in the suburbs fled from those areas and sought refuge in the Turkish-controlled part of the city. Although by 1970 many people from surrounding neighborhoods moved back to their places of origin, geographer Richard Patrick in that same year recorded 164 displaced people still living in the Turkish Cypriot-controlled part of Famagusta. It is important to note that until 1974 the Turkish Cypriot-controlled part of the city was composed of the walled city and the suburbs of Baykal, Karaolos/Karakol and Sakarya. While the walled city was used as the Turkish Cypriot military headquarters, other neighborhoods also maintained military forces. No Greek Cypriots were allowed to enter these locations. During the 1963-4 intercommunal fighting, Famagusta also was an important reception center for other displaced Turkish Cypriots from surrounding villages such as Koilamenos/Esenköy(153) and Sygkrasi/Sınırüstü(196).
In August 1974, the Greek Cypriot section of the town (including Varosha) had been completely evacuated by its population, which fled from the advancing Turkish army, especially after the town had been bombed by the Turkish air force. The Varosha section of Famagusta was sealed off by the Turkish army immediately after being captured and still remains a no man’s zone today. Currently the displaced Greek Cypriots of Famagusta are scattered throughout the island’s south, mainly in Larnaca(361) and the southeast part of the Famagusta district area that is under the control of the Republic of Cyprus. The number of Greek Cypriots from this town who were displaced in 1974 was approximately 31,200 (31,151 in 1973 census).
After 1974, apart from the sealed-off part of the “ghost city” of Varosha, the Greek Cypriot part of Famagusta was repopulated by many displaced Turkish Cypriots from the Limassol and Paphos districts. In 1976-77, some parts of northern Varosha that were opened for resettlement became home to displaced Turkish Cypriots from the south. Rather than being resettled as villages, some individual families from the Paphos villages of Axylou(297)
, Agios Ioannis(285)
, Agia Varvara(283)
, Agios Nikolaos(287)
, Agios Georgios(284)
, and Marona(323)
were resettled here. In addition, many families from Limassol(269)
, and Paphos(329)
towns also settled in Famagusta, along with many families from Turkey (after 1975), primarily from Adana, Mersin, Antalya, Konya, Trabzon and Hatay provinces. Due to the recent construction boom and the development in tourism, the town also hosts many immigrant workers from Turkey, who work in these sectors. Famagusta is also the home of the Eastern Mediterranean University with almost 15,000 students (majority from Turkey and Third countries). The 2006 Turkish Cypriot census gives the town’s population as 35,381.
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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- 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