British Cypriots

British Cypriots
British Cypriots
(Cypriots in the United Kingdom)
Stelios launches easyOffice.jpgTracey Emin 1.jpg

George Michael 25LIVE.jpgOssie.jpg

Notable British Cypriots:
Stelios Haji-Ioannou · Tracey Emin
George Michael · Leon Osman
Total population
Cypriot-born residents
77,673 (2001 Census) Other estmiates 2007 Commonwealth office-300,000

The British Cypriot community in the United Kingdom consists of British people born on, or with ancestors from, the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. British Cypriot people may be of Greek, Turkish, Arabic, or Armenian speaking Cypriot descent.[1]

Migration from Cyprus to the UK has occurred in part due to the colonial links between the countries and the internal conflict that followed Cyprus' independence from the British Empire in 1960. Migration peaked at the time of independence but has continued on a smaller scale. The number of Cypriot-born people in the UK fell between the 1991 and 2001 censuses, but the community, including people of Cypriot ancestry, remains sizeable. A number of famous British people with Cypriot ancestry include: musicians George Michael and Cat Stevens, footballer Leon Osman, and visual artist Tracey Emin.



Before the First World War, very few Cypriots migrated to the UK and the British Cypriot population at this time was around 150, according to historian Stavros Panteli.[2] Only a handful of marriages involving Cypriots are recorded at London's Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sophia in the years before 1918.[2] During the First World War many Cypriots joined the allied forces. When the British annexed Cyprus in 1914, Cypriots' political status changed and they found it easier to travel.[2]

The 1931 British Census recorded more than 1,000 Cypriot-born people, but many of these were the children of British military personnel serving in the Mediterranean.[3] However, some Greek Cypriots did migrate to the UK in the 1920s and 1930s, often finding jobs in the catering industry in Soho.[4][5] By the start of the Second World War, there were around 8,000 Cypriots in London.[6] More Cypriot immigrants arrived during the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA)'s campaign for Cypriot independence from Britain, as well as union with Greece, which started in 1955. In the four years of conflict, an average of 4,000 Cypriots left the island per year for the UK,[3] because of violence on the island and the fear felt by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots in mixed villages where they formed minorities.[7] Migration peaked following independence in 1960,[5] with around 25,000 Cypriots migrating in the year that followed.[3] Many migrants joined family already living in Britain.[5][7] Further migration accompanied the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.[4] Home Office figures show that roughly 10,000 Cypriots fled to the UK, the majority of them refugees, but many of them subsequently returned to the island.[6]

In the 1960s, Greek Cypriots in London outnumbered Turkish Cypriots by four to one.[3] The increase in post-war rents in central London had forced many Cypriot immigrants to move north within the city.[5] The Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities tended to be geographically segregated, with Greeks settling mainly in Camden and Turks in Stoke Newington.[3] This was due to the migrants' reliance on social networks to find housing on their arrival.[8] Robert Winder reports that "Haringey became the second biggest Cypriot town in the world".[3] Many Cypriots set up restaurants, filling a gap left by Italians, many of whom had been interned during the Second World War.[3][5]

Much of the Turkish Cypriot migration to the UK occurred as a consequence of intercommunal violence in Cyprus during the 1950s and 1960s.[9][10] Many Turkish Cypriots viewed the EOKA insurgency as an attempt on the part of Greek Cypriots to establish hegemony on the island with the aim of achieving union with Greece.[7] By 1958, there were around 8,500 Turkish Cypriots in Britain.[7][11] Between 1960 and 1962, the inflow increased substantially because of a fear that Britain would impose immigration controls,[7] and indeed the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 did reduce migration flows from Cyprus to Britain.[12] Although the expansion of Britain's Turkish Cypriot community took place primarily between the late 1940s and the mid 1960s, there was a further influx of around 3,000 immigrants after partition in 1974.[7] Migration continued because of the political and economic situation in the 1970s and 1980s,[9][10] and Turkish Cypriots have continued to migrate to the UK due to high unemployment rates in northern Cyprus.[13] In the early 1980s, it was estimated that 160,000 Cypriots were resident in the UK, 20 to 25 per cent of them being Turkish Cypriots.[12] Since Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004, holders of Republic of Cyprus passports have been able to migrate freely to the UK under EU law.[14]



The 2001 UK Census recorded 77,673 Cypriot-born people residing in the UK.[15] The number of Cypriot-born people in Great Britain fell from 78,191 in 1991 to 77,156 in 2001, one of the few country-of-birth groups to experience a decrease in numbers.[16] The Office for National Statistics estimates that, in 2009, 63,000 people born in the part of the island under the full control of the Republic of Cyprus, or who stated that they were born on the island but did not state which part, were resident in the UK.[17]

The National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, an umbrella organisation representing the Cypriot community associations and groups across the UK[18] claims to represent more than 300,000 people of Cypriot ancestry.[19] Furthermore, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also claims that over 300,000 Cypriots live in the UK, including both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.[20] One estimate states that 130,000 nationals of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) currently reside in the UK,[21] a figure also given by the Turkish consulate in London,[22] whereas the Museum of London reports that 100,000 Turkish Cypriots live in Britain—20,000 more than in Cyprus itself.[10] Academic Nergis Canefe suggests a figure of 190,000,[23] whereas the TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested in May 2001 that 200,000 Turkish Cypriots were living in the United Kingdom.[24] In 2011, the House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee suggested that there are now about 300,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the UK.[25]

Population distribution

Of the 77,156 Cypriot-born people living in mainland Britain at the time of the 2001 census, 60 per cent lived in areas of London with Turkish communities. A total of 45,887 were resident in Greater London.[16] Analysis of the census shows that Cypriot-born people are found in large numbers in the London boroughs of Enfield, Haringey, Barnet and Hackney.[26] The census tracts with the highest number of Cypriot-born people are Palmers Green, Upper Edmonton, Cockfosters, Lower Edmonton, Tottenham North and Tottenham South.[16] Outside of London, concentrations are found in Bristol[26], Birmingham, Borehamwood, Cheshunt, Potters Bar, and the very affluent Brookmans Park.

Notable individuals

A number of British Cypriot people are well-known in the UK and overseas. These include George Michael, who was born in London to a Greek Cypriot father;[27] Cat Stevens, whose father was Greek Cypriot;[28] entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou;[29] Andreas Liveras, a Greek Cypriot-born businessman killed in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks;[30] Theo Paphitis, an entrepreneur and TV personality;[31] Michael Paraskos, writer and newspaper art critic; artist Tracey Emin, who has a Turkish Cypriot father;[10] and fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, who was born in Nicosia.[10] Everton footballer Leon Osman has a Turkish Cypriot father.[32]

See also


  1. ^ Georgiou, Myria (2001). "Crossing the boundaries of the ethnic home: Media consumption and ethnic identity construction in the public space: The case of the Cypriot Community Centre in North London". International Communication Gazette 63 (4): 311–329. doi:10.1177/0016549201063004003. 
  2. ^ a b c Panteli, Stavros. "The Greek Cypriot diaspora: An overview of the UK experience". Cypriot Diaspora Project. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Winder, Robert (2004). Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain. London: Abacus. pp. 360–62. ISBN 0349115664. 
  4. ^ a b "Cypriot London". BBC London. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Greek Cypriot London". Museum of London. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Orphanides, Kika (1986). "The Cypriot Community in Britain". In Coombe, Vivienne; Little, Alan. Race & Social Work: A Guide to Training. London: Routledge. pp. 80–87. ISBN 0422793809. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Humayun, Ansari (2004). 'The Infidel Within': Muslims in Britain Since 1800. London: C Hurst & Co.. pp. 153–54. ISBN 1850656851. 
  8. ^ Rutter, Jill; with Cooley, Laurence; Reynolds, Sile; and Sheldon, Ruth (2007) (PDF). From Refugee to Citizen: 'Standing on My Own Two Feet' — A Research Report on Integration, 'Britishness' and Citizenship. London: Refugee Support. p. 15. 
  9. ^ a b Robins, Kevin; Aksoy, Asu (2001). "From spaces of identity to mental spaces: Lessons from Turkish-Cypriot cultural experience in Britain". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 27 (4): 685–711. doi:10.1080/13691830120090458. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "Turkish Cypriot London". Museum of London. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  11. ^ Bhatti, F.M. (1981). Turkish Cypriots in London. Research Papers. 11. Birmingham: Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. 
  12. ^ a b Yilmaz, Ihsan (2005). Muslim Laws, Politics and Society in Modern Nation States: Dynamic Legal Pluralisms in England, Turkey, and Pakistan. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 154. ISBN 9780754643890. 
  13. ^ Østergaard-Nielsen, Eva (2003). "The democratic deficit of diaspora politics: Turkish Cypriots in Britain and the Cyprus issue". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 29 (4): 683–700. doi:10.1080/1369183032000123459. 
  14. ^ Drew, Catherine; Sriskandarajah, Dhananjayan (January 2007). "EU enlargement in 2007: No warm welcome for labor migrants". Migration Information Source. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  15. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  16. ^ a b c "Cyprus". Born Abroad: An immigration map of Britain. BBC. 7 September 2005. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  17. ^ "Estimated population resident in the United Kingdom, by foreign country of birth (Table 1.3)". Office for National Statistics. September 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Chaglar, Alkan (November 2007). "National Federation of UK Cypriots reaches out to Turkish Cypriots". Toplum Postasi. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  19. ^ "About us". National Federation of Cypriots in the UK. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  20. ^ "Cyprus settlement: who benefits?". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  21. ^ Edwards, Viv. "Turkish today". Your Voice. BBC. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  22. ^ "Turkish community in the UK". Consulate General for the Republic of Turkey in London. Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  23. ^ Canefe, Nergis (2002). "Markers of Turkish Cypriot history in the diaspora: Power, visibility and identity". Rethinking History 6 (1): 57–76. doi:10.1080/13642520110112119. 
  24. ^ TRNC Info (May 2001). "Briefing Notes on the Cyprus Issue". Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  25. ^ Home Affairs Committee (2011). "Implications for the Justice and Home Affairs area of the accession of Turkey to the European Union". The Stationery Office. p. Ev 34. 
  26. ^ a b Kyambi, Sarah (2005). Beyond Black and White: Mapping New Immigrant Communities. London: Institute for Public Policy Research. pp. 60–61. ISBN 186030284X. 
  27. ^ "George Michael's highs and lows". BBC News. 21 September 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  28. ^ Frith, Maxine (23 September 2004). "US deports Yusuf Islam over claims that he supports terrorist groups". The Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  29. ^ Boyle, Catherine (15 November 2008). "Business big shot: Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, entrepreneur". The Times (London). Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  30. ^ Naughton, Philippe (2008-11-27). "British yachting tycoon Andreas Liveras killed in Bombay terror attacks". The Times (London). Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  31. ^ "Talking Shop: Theo Paphitis". BBC News. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  32. ^ Westgaph, Lawrence (31 December 2007). "True Evertonians must stand up to the racists". Liverpool Echo: p. 12. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 

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