Jump to content

Greek Cypriots

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Greek Cypriots
Total population
c. 1.2 million
Regions with significant populations
Cyprus 659,115 (2011 census)[1]
≈500,000 in diaspora[2]
United Kingdom270,000
Australia, South Africa, Greece, United States, Germany and others≈230,000
Modern Greek (Cypriot and Standard)
(Greek Orthodox)
Related ethnic groups
Other Greek subgroups

Greek Cypriots (Greek: Ελληνοκύπριοι, romanizedEllinokýprioi, Turkish: Kıbrıs Rumları) are the ethnic Greek population of Cyprus,[3][4][5][6] forming the island's largest ethnolinguistic community. According to the 2011 census, 659,115 respondents recorded their ethnicity as Greek, forming almost 99% of the 667,398 Cypriot citizens and over 78% of the 840,407 total residents of the area controlled by the Republic of Cyprus.[1] These figures do not include the 29,321 citizens of Greece residing in Cyprus, ethnic Greeks recorded as citizens of other countries, or the population of Northern Cyprus.

The majority of Greek Cypriots are members of the Church of Cyprus, an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Orthodox Christianity.[5][7] In regard to the 1960 Constitution of Cyprus, the term also includes Maronites, Armenians, and Catholics of the Latin Church ("Latins"), who were given the option of being included in either the Greek or Turkish communities and voted to join the former due to a shared religion.


Ancient Cyprus[edit]

King Evagoras I of Salamis, Cyprus

Cyprus was part of the Mycenaean civilization with local production of Mycenaean vases dating to the Late Helladic III (1400–1050 BC). The quantity of this pottery concludes that there were numerous Mycenaean settlers, if not settlements, on the island.[8] Archaeological evidence shows that Greek settlement began unsystematically in c. 1400 BC, then steadied (possibly due to Dorian invaders on the mainland) with definite settlements established in c. 1200 BC.[9] The close connection between the Arcadian dialect and those of Pamphylia and Cyprus indicates that the migration came from Achaea.[10] The Achaean tribe may have been an original population of the Peloponnese, Pamphylia, and Cyprus, living in the latter prior to the Dorian invasion, and not a subsequent immigrant group; the Doric elements in Arcadian are lacking in Cypriot.[10] Achaeans settled among the old population, and founded Salamis.[11] The epic Cypria, dating to the 7th century BC, may have originated in Cyprus.[12]

Medieval Cyprus[edit]

Byzantine princess Helena Palaiologina, Queen consort of Cyprus

The Byzantine era profoundly molded Greek Cypriot culture. The Greek Orthodox Christian legacy bestowed on Greek Cypriots in this period would live on during the succeeding centuries of foreign domination. Because Cyprus was never the final goal of any external ambition, but simply fell under the domination of whichever power was dominant in the eastern Mediterranean, destroying its civilization was never a military objective or necessity.

The Greek Cypriots did however endure the oppressive rule of first the Lusignans and then the Venetians from the 1190s through to 1570. King Amaury, who succeeded his brother Guy de Lusignan in 1194, was particularly intolerant of the Orthodox Church. Greek Cypriot land was appropriated for the Latin churches after they were established in the major towns on the island. In addition, tax collection was also part of the heavy oppressive attitude of the occupiers to the locals of the island, in that it was now being conducted by the Latin churches themselves.

Ottoman Cyprus[edit]

The Hala Sultan Tekke mosque, built in 1817, was one of many landmarks constructed by the Ottoman Turks in Cyprus.

The Ottoman conquest of Cyprus in 1571 replaced Venetian rule. Despite the inherent oppression of foreign subjugation, the period of Ottoman rule (1570–1878) had a limited impact on Greek Cypriot culture. The Ottomans tended to administer their multicultural empire with the help of their subject millets, or religious communities. The millet system allowed the Greek Cypriot community to survive,[citation needed] administered on behalf of Constantinople by the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus. Cypriot Greeks were now able to take control of the land they had been working on for centuries.[citation needed] Although religiously tolerant, Ottoman rule was generally harsh and inefficient. The patriarch serving the Ottoman sultan acted as ethnarch, or leader of the Greek nation, and gained secular powers as a result of the gradual dysfunction of Ottoman rule, for instance in adjudicating justice and in the collection of taxes. Turkish settlers suffered alongside their Greek Cypriot neighbors, and the two groups together endured centuries of oppressive governance from Constantinople.[citation needed] A minority of Greek Cypriots converted to Islam during this period, and are sometimes referred to as "neo-Muslims" by historians.[13][14]

Modern history[edit]

The Cypriot Statue of Liberty

Politically, the concept of enosis – unification with the Greek "motherland" – became important to literate Greek Cypriots after Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. A movement for the realization of enosis gradually formed, in which the Church of Cyprus played a dominant role during the Cyprus dispute.

"Hellenism is a race as aged as the world,
Nobody could be found to eliminate it,
Nobody, for it is protected from above by my God,
Hellenism will be lost, only when the world is gone."

Archbishop Kyprianos' fictional response to Kucuk Mehmet's threat to execute the Greek Orthodox Christian bishops of Cyprus, in Vasilis Michaelides epic poem "The 9th of July of 1821 in Nicosia, Cyprus", written in 1884–1895. The poem is considered a key literary expression of Greek Cypriot Enosis sentiment.[15]

During the period of British colonial rule (1878–1960), an efficient colonial administration was established, but government and education were administered along ethnic lines, accentuating differences. For example, the education system was organized with two Boards of Education, one Greek and one Turkish, controlled by Athens and Istanbul, respectively. [citation needed] The resulting Greco-Turkish educational systems emphasized linguistic, religious, cultural, and ethnic differences and downplayed traditional ties between the two Cypriot communities. [citation needed] The two groups were encouraged to view themselves as extensions of their respective motherlands, leading to the development of two distinct nationalities with antagonistic loyalties.[16]

The importance of religion within the Greek Cypriot community was reinforced when the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, Makarios III, was elected the first president of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960. For the next decade and a half, enosis was a key issue for Greek Cypriots, and a key cause of events leading up to the 1974 coup, which prompted the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island. Cyprus remains divided today, with the two communities almost completely separated. Many of those whom lost their homes, lands and possessions during the Turkish invasion, emigrated mainly to the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, South Africa and Europe, although most left Cyprus before 1974. There are today estimated to be 335,000 Greek Cypriot emigrants living in Great Britain. The majority of the Greek Cypriots in Great Britain currently live in England; there is an estimate of around 3,000 in Wales and 1,000 in Scotland. By the early 1990s, Greek Cypriot society enjoyed a high standard of living. Economic modernization created a more flexible and open society and caused Greek Cypriots to share the concerns and hopes of other secularized West European societies. The Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, officially representing the entire island, but suspended for the time being in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.


1970 vs. 1998: Greeks are blue, and Turks are red

Greeks in Cyprus number 659,115, according to the 2011 Cypriot census.[1] There is a notable community of Cypriots and people of Cypriot descent in Greece. In Athens, the Greek Cypriot community numbers ca. 55,000 people.[17] There is also a large Greek Cypriot diaspora, particularly in the United Kingdom.




Cypriot meze

Cypriot cuisine, as with other Greek cuisine, was imprinted with the spices and herbs made common as a result of extensive trade links within the Ottoman Empire. Names of many dishes came to reflect the sources of the ingredients from the many lands . Coffee houses pervasively spread throughout the island into all major towns and countless villages.


The everyday language of Greek Cypriots is Cypriot Greek, a dialect of Modern Greek. It shares certain characteristics with varieties of Crete, the Dodecanese and Chios, as well as those of Asia Minor.

Greek Cypriots are generally educated in Standard Modern Greek, though they tend to speak it with an accent and preserve some Greek Cypriot grammar.

Genetic studies[edit]

Cypriot Boy Scouts

A 2017 study, found that Cypriots belong to a wide and homogeneous genetic domain, along with the people of the Aegean Islands (including Crete), Sicily, and southern Italy (including the Greek-speaking minorities of Apulia and Calabria), while the continental part of Greece, including Peloponnesus, appears as slightly differentiated, by clustering with the other Southern Balkan populations of Albania and Kosovo. The study calls this distinct genetic domain, the "Mediterranean genetic continuum".[18]

A 2017 archaeogenetics study, concluded that both the Mycenaean Greeks and the Minoans were genetically closely related, and that both are closely related, but not identical, to modern Greek populations. The FST between the sampled Bronze Age populations and present-day West Eurasians was estimated, finding that Mycenaeans are least differentiated from the populations of Greece, Cyprus, Albania, and Italy.[19]

A 2017 study, found that both Greek Cypriots' and Turkish Cypriots' patrilineal ancestry derives primarily from a single pre-Ottoman local gene pool. The frequency of total haplotypes shared[a] between Greek and Turkish Cypriots is 7-8%, with analysis showing that none of these being found in Turkey, thus not supporting a Turkish origin for the shared haplotypes. No shared haplotypes were observed between Greek Cypriots and mainland Turkish populations, while total haplotypes shared between Turkish Cypriots and mainland Turks was 3%. Both Cypriot groups show close genetic affinity to Calabrian (southern Italy) and Lebanese patrilineages. The study states that the genetic affinity between Calabrians and Cypriots can be explained as a result of a common ancient Greek (Achaean) genetic contribution, while Lebanese affinity can be explained through several migrations that took place from coastal Levant to Cyprus from the Neolithic (early farmers), the Iron Age (Phoenicians), and the Middle Ages (Maronites and other Levantine settlers during the Frankish era). The authors note however that the Calabrian samples used in the analysis were relatively small (n = 30 comparative dataset, n = 74 YHRD) and thus these results should be interpreted with caution. Furthermore, from the Greek sub-populations, Cretan Greeks were found to be the closest to Cypriots. In terms of Rst pairwise genetic differences, which indicate deeper shared paternal ancestry than shared haplotypes, Greeks appear genetically close to Cypriots, and equidistant from Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots have similar frequencies for their major patrilineal haplogroups, with the main subclades for both being J2a-M410 (23.8% and 20.3% resp.), E-M78 (12.8% and 13.9% resp.) and G2-P287 (12.5% and 13.7% resp.). The biggest differentiating characteristic between Greek Cypriots and mainland Greeks is the low frequency of haplogroups I, R1a among Greek Cypriots because the mainland Greek population has received considerable migrations during the Byzantine era and the Middle Ages from other Balkanic populations, such as Slavs, Aromanians (Vlachs), and Albanians (Arvanites), while the biggest differentiating characteristic between Greek Cypriots and Middle Easterners is the much lower frequency of haplogroup J1 among the Greek Cypriots. Greek Cypriots are also differentiated by Turkish Cypriots in some aspects; namely Turkish Cypriots have 5.6% Eastern Eurasian (likely Central Asian/Turkic) and 2.1% North African patrilineal ancestry, while Greek Cypriots have 0.6% Eastern Eurasian and no North African patrilineal ancestry.[20]

Notable people[edit]

Ioannis Kigalas (1622–1687), Nicosian-born scholar and professor of Philosophy who was largely active in Padova and Venice.
Makarios III
Spyros Kyprianou, President of Cyprus
Christopher A. Pissarides




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shared haplotype % represents the proportion of individuals among Greek Cypriots (344 samples) and Turkish Cypriots (380 samples) having an exact 17/17 Y-STR haplotype match in the specified populations.


  1. ^ a b c "Population – Country of Birth, Citizenship Category, Country of Citizenship, Language, Religion, Ethnic/Religious Group, 2011". Statistical Service of the Republic of Cyprus. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  2. ^ Papadakis, Yiannis (2011), "Cypriots, Greek", in Cole, Jeffrey E. (ed.), Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, p. 92, ISBN 978-1-59884-302-6, The population of Greek Cypriots currently living in Cyprus is around 650,000. In addition, it is estimated that up to 500,000 Greek Cypriots live outside Cyprus, the major concentrations being in the United Kingdom (270,000), Australia, South Africa, Greece, and the United States.
  3. ^ "The Constitution – Appendix D: Part 01 – General Provisions". Constitution of Cyprus. Republic of Cyprus. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
  4. ^ "About Cyprus – History – Modern Times". Government Web Portal – Areas of Interest. Government of Cyprus. Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  5. ^ a b Solsten, Eric (January 1991). "A Country Study: Cyprus". Federal Research Division. Library of Congress. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
  6. ^ "The Orthodox Church of Cyprus". Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Archived from the original on 3 December 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  7. ^ "About Cyprus – Towns and Population". Government Web Portal – Areas of Interest. Government of Cyprus. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
  8. ^ V. R. d'A. Desborough (5 February 2007). The Last Mycenaeans and Their Successors: An Archaeological Survey, c.1200 – c.1000 B.C. Wipf & Stock Publ. pp. 196–. ISBN 978-1-55635-201-0.
  9. ^ Hill, George (23 September 2010). A History of Cyprus. Cambridge University Press. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-1-108-02062-6.
  10. ^ a b Hill 2010, p. 85.
  11. ^ Hill 2010, pp. 85–86.
  12. ^ Hill 2010, pp. 90–93.
  13. ^ Peter Alford Andrews, Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1989, ISBN 3-89500-297-6
  14. ^ Savile, Albany Robert, Cyprus, 1878, p. 130
  15. ^ "Η 9η Ιουλίου του 1821 εν Λευκωσία Κύπρου – Βασίλης Μιχαηλίδης". ςww.apotipomata.com. 9 July 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  16. ^ Xypolia, Ilia (2011). "Cypriot Muslims among Ottomans, Turks and Two World Wars". Bogazici Journal. 25 (2): 109–120. doi:10.21773/boun.25.2.6.
  17. ^ Madianou 2012, p. 41.
  18. ^ Sarno, Stefania; Boattini, Alessio; Pagani, Luca; Sazzini, Marco; De Fanti, Sara; Quagliariello, Andrea; Gnecchi Ruscone, Guido Alberto; Guichard, Etienne; Ciani, Graziella; Bortolini, Eugenio; Barbieri, Chiara; Cilli, Elisabetta; Petrilli, Rosalba; Mikerezi, Ilia; Sineo, Luca; Vilar, Miguel; Wells, Spencer; Luiselli, Donata; Pettener, Davide (16 May 2017). "Ancient and recent admixture layers in Sicily and Southern Italy trace multiple migration routes along the Mediterranean". Scientific Reports. 7 (1): 1984. Bibcode:2017NatSR...7.1984S. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01802-4. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 5434004. PMID 28512355.
  19. ^ Lazaridis, Iosif; Mittnik, Alissa; Patterson, Nick; Mallick, Swapan; Rohland, Nadin; Pfrengle, Saskia; Furtwängler, Anja; Peltzer, Alexander; Posth, Cosimo; Vasilakis, Andonis; McGeorge, P. J. P.; Konsolaki-Yannopoulou, Eleni; Korres, George; Martlew, Holley; Michalodimitrakis, Manolis; Özsait, Mehmet; Özsait, Nesrin; Papathanasiou, Anastasia; Richards, Michael; Roodenberg, Songül Alpaslan; Tzedakis, Yannis; Arnott, Robert; Fernandes, Daniel M.; Hughey, Jeffery R.; Lotakis, Dimitra M.; Navas, Patrick A.; Maniatis, Yannis; Stamatoyannopoulos, John A.; Stewardson, Kristin; Stockhammer, Philipp; Pinhasi, Ron; Reich, David; Krause, Johannes; Stamatoyannopoulos, George (2 August 2017). "Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans". Nature. 548 (7666) (published 10 August 2017): 214–218. Bibcode:2017Natur.548..214L. doi:10.1038/nature23310. ISSN 0028-0836. PMC 5565772. PMID 28783727.
  20. ^ Heraclides, Alexandros; Bashiardes, Evy; Fernández-Domínguez, Eva; Bertoncini, Stefania; Chimonas, Marios; Christofi, Vasilis; King, Jonathan; Budowle, Bruce; Manoli, Panayiotis; Cariolou, Marios A. (16 June 2017). "Y-chromosomal analysis of Greek Cypriots reveals a primarily common pre-Ottoman paternal ancestry with Turkish Cypriots". PLOS One. 12 (6): e0179474. Bibcode:2017PLoSO..1279474H. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0179474. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 5473566. PMID 28622394.


External links[edit]