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Customs & Language

We all do things differently. At home knowing what to do and what not to do is automatic, but when you go to live in another country you need to learn their rules. The best way to find out what's right and wrong, what's acceptable and what's taboo in Northern Cyprus is to keep your eyes open, see how people act, and ask other foreigners. One thing is clear: if you learn at least a little Turkish and take some time to learn about Turkish Cypriot culture and customs, you will be welcomed and made to feel comfortable.

Liaising and being friendly with the local community is more realistic than integration, given that it is very much family-based and considering language issues. The kind of behaviour which is culturally unacceptable and likely to upset your hosts is that of ignorant, thoughtless tourists like indecent clothing (in a country where people dress modestly), drunkenness, rowdiness and walking round in beach wear.

Most of the population are Muslims. They are fairly relaxed about religion, but tact is wise. Like mainland Turks, Ataturk is held in the highest regard. It would be most discourteous to be critical. People are generally considerate to the aged. There are formal sets of greetings for different times and to learn and use them is appreciated.

Learn Turkish, cultivate Turkish Cypriot friends. Listen and don't assume that being British makes you superior! Don't lose your temper.

Generally speaking, Turkish Cypriots are kind and laid back. If you learn to adjust to the pace of life you'll do fine - if you are impatient and expect UK with sun you'll hate it!! Nice climate, nice people on the whole, gentle pace of life.

Life in the TRNC is relaxed and peaceful with plenty to appeal to a wide range of tastes whether your interests lie in visiting historical sites, rambling in the mountains, water sports, working your way around its tempting restaurants or getting involved with community and charity work. If you settle in Northern Cyprus you will find a huge support network of other expats in place to assist you.

In addition to providing comprehensive advice and information on the bureaucratic procedures of residing in Northern Cyprus, the BRS also organises lots of activities and has links with St Andrew's Church. Another organisation well worth joining is The Anglo Turkish Association which, apart from running Turkish language courses (see above) also organises cultural events and trips, and talks on a wide range of topics related to Northern Cyprus. You find out what's on from the local press.


Learning the language opens doors and is appreciated by our hosts. English is taught in schools and all universities in Northern Cyprus are English medium. Nevertheless, despite the fact that an increasing number of Cypriots in the TRNC speak English, it is advisable and courteous to make an effort to learn at least the essentials in Turkish. In terms of building good relations with your Turkish neighbours and hosts, its value is immeasurable. You can start before you arrive as there are a number of self-study courses commercially available. Once resident in the TRNC, you have a choice of classes: the Anglo- Turkish Association, private language centres and private teachers.