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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

5 - Education and Ethnic Violence in Cyprus


Cyprus is an island in the eastern Mediterranean the size of Massachusetts and has been a member of the European Union since 2004. Its 800,000 inhabitants are divided into two main ethnic communities who differ along both linguistic and religious lines: Greek (Orthodox) Cypriots, who presently make up more than 75 percent of the population; and Turkish (Muslim) Cypriots, who comprise less than 20 percent of the population. Although recognized internationally as one country, Cyprus has been under the control of two separate authorities since a civil war in 1974: southern Cyprus is inhabited overwhelmingly by Greek Cypriots, and its government is recognized internationally as the legitimate government of all Cyprus; and northern Cyprus is a Turkish-controlled enclave inhabited overwhelmingly by Turkish Cypriots and immigrants from the Turkish mainland. The present ethnic and political divisions of Cyprus are the result of violence that began in 1955 and reached a stalemate after 1974. The violence began as an anticolonial conflict in the 1950s, quickly transformed into intercommunal violence, and finally erupted into an international war that provoked ethnic purges.

This chapter continues to explore the impact of education on ethnic violence through a case study of Cyprus. I begin by providing relevant background material, paying particular attention to the island's history of foreign domination, an ethno-nationalist movement among Greek Cypriots, and Cyprus’ history of ethnic violence. This section also explores the sequence between educational expansion and ethnic violence. Next, I describe the country's educational system, explore the educational background of individuals implicated in ethnic violence, and investigate whether the educational mechanisms outlined in Chapter 2 help explain intercommunal violence.

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