General information on Northern Cyprus

SOS Children's Villages first held talks with representatives of Northern Cyprus in 1989. At that point the country was lacking a clear child care concept, and they showed great interest in the SOS Children's Villages idea. In 1993 SOS Children's Villages started working directly with children in Lefkosa (Nicosia) by providing them with family-based care in SOS families or with day-care while their parents went to work or received training. As SOS Children's Village Lefkosa gained an excellent reputation, the local authorities asked SOS Children's Villages to expand its work to reach more children, young people and families in the local communities.

Children at play - photo: A. Gabriel
Children at play - photo: A. Gabriel
Cyprus, in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey and west of Syria, is the third largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia. The island's maximum extension is 224 km (between Cape Andreas in the north-east and the coastline in the west). The island's maximum width, from Cape Gata in the south to Cape Kormakiti in the north, is 97 km.

The Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts; the area under the effective control of the Republic, comprising about 59% of the island's area, and the Turkish-controlled area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and recognised only by Turkey, covering about 36% of the island's area.

The country covers an area of 9,250 km² (of which 3,355 km² are in the Turkish Cypriot area). Cyprus is a highly urbanised island. The biggest city and capital is Nicosia (Lefkosa) with a population of about 200,000.

The population is 1.2 million (July 2011 est.) of whom 77% are Greek Cypriots and 18% are Turkish Cypriots - 1.3% of the Turks live in the Greek Cypriot area; 98.7% of the Turks live in the Turkish Cypriot area.

Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2008. Although the euro is accepted in Northern Cyprus, the main currency is the Turkish Lira.

SOS Children's Village Lefkosa - photo: A. Gabriel
SOS Children's Village Lefkosa - photo: A. Gabriel

Although no official data is systematically collected on the number of children who are at risk of losing parental care, it is believed to be very high due to the structure of the population. Many people have recently arrived in North Cyprus and do not have the family and community to help them when they have problems. When difficulties occur, the children are habitually taken into care.