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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: demographic situation, languages and religions


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.3Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Last update: 14 December 2023

Demographic situation

The Turkish invasion of 1974 has been the most tragic event in the recent history of Cyprus, with a devastating impact on its demographic situation. In that year, approximately 142,000 Greek Cypriots – nearly one-third of the then total Greek Cypriot population of Cyprus – were forcibly expelled from the occupied northern part of the island where they constituted some 80% of the population. In the years following the invasion, a further 20,000 Greek Cypriots from the occupied areas were gradually forced to abandon their homes. In parallel, the Turkish Cypriots, who were scattered throughout the island, were moved to the occupied area in the north, as part of Ankara’s policy to impose total segregation of the two communities. The demographic character of the occupied north of the country has also changed dramatically, due to an influx of illegal settlers from the Turkish mainland to the occupied area.

The Turkish invasion had a dramatic impact on the demographic situation, and the total population declined as a result of emigration and abnormal birth and death rates for a number of years, remaining below the 1974 figure. It was not until the end of 1984 that the total population of Cyprus exceeded the highest figure reached in mid-1974. However, the number of Turkish Cypriots has been declining since 1985, whilst the population of Greek Cypriots has gradually increased since 1976. The contrast in the population growth of the two communities is exclusively due to different patterns of migration, as both fertility and mortality rates are similar for both communities.

Education also suffered a severe blow as a result of the invasion. Nineteen of the forty-nine secondary schools were occupied by the Turkish Army and 44% of the pupils in secondary education and 42% in primary education were forced to abandon their homes and schools. Today, there is one primary school operating in Rizokarpasso, in the occupied area, and a secondary school was permitted to re-open in the school year 2004-05. A new kindergarten was also allowed to operate in the same year, in the premises of the Rizokarpasso school.

The main towns of Cyprus are Lefkosia (capital), Lemesos, Larnaka, Pafos, Ammochostos and Keryneia. The towns of Ammochostos, Keryneia and a part of Lefkosia are under Turkish military occupation.

Education Research 2020/2021

According to the Labor Force Survey 2020/2021, the population of the government-controlled area in Cyprus is estimated at 923.272 at the end of 2021, compared to 888.000 at the end of 2018, recording an increase of 4.0%.
Based on the results of the Annual Education Survey, in the 2020/2021 school year the total
number students at all levels of education reached 201,273, remaining approximately at the same levels as in the 2019/2020 school year, where the total number of students was 201,242. The total number of educational institutions in 2020/2021 amounted to 1,317 compared to 1,329 in 2019/2020. Finally, the total number of teachers in 2020/2021 reached 15,809, showing an increase of 2.0%, compared to 15,499 teachers of the previous school year.
Number of Students and Educational Institutions by Level of Education
In the 2020/2021 school year, 734 kindergartens and daycare centers were operated in preschool and pre-primary education where 32,958 children attended, noting a slight decrease (1.1%) compared to the 2019/2020 school year where 743 kindergartens and daycare centers were operating in which 33,329 children attended.
In primary education, 360 schools were in operation attended by 58,093 students, also showing a small decrease (1.2%) compared to 2019/2020 where there were 361 schools with 58,799 students.
In secondary education during 2020/2021, 56,714 students studied in 168 schools, showing a small increase (1.4%) compared to 2019/2020 where there were 55,922 students in the same number of schools.
In tertiary education, 55 educational institutions operated with a total number of enrollments
53,508 students. The corresponding numbers for the 2019/2020 academic year were at the same levels, with 57 educational institutions and a total enrollment of 53,192 students.
Additionally, in 2020/2021 11 special schools operated with 498 students and 147 teachers, while in 2019/2020 in the same number of special schools, there were 466 students and 146 teachers. Therefore, in 2020/2021 there was an increase of 6.9% in special school students. 
Financial Statistics for Education 
For the financial year 2020, public expenditures for all levels of education amounted to €1,306.5 million and accounted for 13.4% of the state budget and 6.0% of the Gross Domestic Product. The corresponding amounts for the financial year 2019 amounted to €1,280.7 million and accounted for 14.5% of the state budget and 5.5% of the Gross Domestic Product.


Based on the results of the Labor Force Survey for the 3rd quarter of 2023, the labor force amounted to 494,622 people or 65.5% of the population (men 70.6%, women 60.9%) compared to 486,492 people (65, 4%) in the corresponding quarter of 2022.
The number of people employed was 466,117 people and the employment rate was 61.7% (men 66.5%, women 57.4%) compared to 453,625 people (61.0%) in the corresponding quarter of 2022.
The number of unemployed people was 28,504 and the unemployment rate was 5.8% of the labor force (men 5.8%, women 5.8%), compared to 32,868 people (6.8%) in the corresponding quarter of 2022.
Among young people aged 15-24, the unemployment rate was 17.3% of the age workforce
of these (males 18.4%, females 16.2%) compared to 19.9% (males 18.0%, females 21.6%) in
the corresponding quarter of 2022.
Regarding the duration of unemployment, 50.7% of all unemployed people were looking for work for
A period of less than 6 months, 18.0% for a period of 6-11 months, while 31.3% were long-term
unemployed. The corresponding percentages for 3 the 2022 quarter was 56.2%, 14.9% and 28.9%.


Net migration in Cyprus has been positive from 1983 to 2011. As of 2012, net migration has been negative, starting from -629 in 2012 and reaching -15,000 in 2014. In 2016 net migration was positive again and was estimated at 2,499 compared to 4193 in 2019.


As provided in the Constitution, Greek and Turkish are the official languages of the Republic of Cyprus, used in legislation and the public administration. It is also provided in the Constitution that each community, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot, is responsible for its educational and linguistic matters. In this respect, the language of instruction in the public pre-primary, primary and secondary level of education in the Government-controlled area is Greek, while the official languages in public universities are Greek and Turkish. The language of instruction in public non-university level institutions is either Greek or English. Private institutions at all levels of education offer programs both in Greek and English.

Other minorities are free to speak and write their own languages and use them as the language of instruction in their educational institutions. In addition, there is a sizeable foreign and expatriate population on the island, either permanently or temporarily resident. This has led to the establishment of private primary and secondary schools catering to the needs of this population, where the language of instruction is English, Arabic, French or Russian.

CARMELA Research Program

On February 24, 2023, CARMELA Research Program was presented, which contributes to the preservation of the identity of the religious groups of Cyprus. The program is a collaboration between the Scientific Research Center of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth and the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the University of Cyprus and aims to create a Cypriot Archive of Oral Tradition for the Armenian and Latino ccommunities.
The Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth, in the context of supporting the religious groups of Cyprus, morally and financially supports actions and synergies that aim to save and promote elements of the cultural heritage of the Maronites, Armenians and Latinos.


There is no official religion in Cyprus. As provided in the Constitution, every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and is free to profess his faith and manifest or change his religion or belief. Freedoms to manifest one’s religion or belief shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in the interests of the security of the Republic or the constitutional order or the public health or the public morals or for the protection of the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution to any person.

Christians make up 78% of the total Cypriot population. Christianity includes the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the Armenian Church in Cyprus, Maronite, Roman Catholicism, and Protestants. Most Greek Cypriots are members of the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus (Church of Cyprus). Islam makes up 18% of the population, with the majority of Turkish Cypriots being Muslims. There are also small Hinduism, Judaism and other religious communities in Cyprus.