History of immigration from Cyprus

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Map of Cyprus
Map date: 2013
Cypriots were first recorded in Australia in the 1850s. These early arrivals were mainly Greek Cypriots who came to Australia as gold prospectors. Many settled in Victoria and established small businesses in Ballarat and Daylesford. One of the settlers was Tony Meringa (Miranda), who arrived in Victoria in 1857 and moved around the goldfields area before settling in Daylesford and owning the Athens Hotel.

More Cypriots arrived after the British take-over of Cyprus in 1878, many working their way to Australia as crewmen on board British ships.

The first significant arrival of Cyprus-born immigrants in Victoria began after World War II, in response to a politically unstable homeland. The Victorian Cypriot population increased from just 169 in 1947 to 2,396 in 1954.

Cyprus became an independent republic in 1960, but in 1974 Greece-born officers of the Cyprus National Guard overthrew the government. In response to this coup, Turkish troops invaded Northern Cyprus and displaced nearly half of the island’s total population. This caused increasing numbers of Cypriots to migrate to Australia, with the Victorian community almost doubling in size between 1971 and 1981, to 10,555 people.

Today Victoria is still the most popular destination for Cyprus-born migrants to Australia, with 8,178 recorded in 2011. The community clearly reflects the ethnic make-up of Cyprus. In 2011, 61% of Victorian immigrants from Cyprus spoke Greek at home, and 26% spoke Turkish. 5,260 were recorded as Orthodox and several hundred more belonged to other Christian denominations; 2,054 were recorded as Muslim. Cypriot migrants have settled all over Melbourne with significant numbers in the outer North and West, largely working as tradespeople, labourers and professionals. Organisations such as the Cypriot Community of Melbourne and Victoria provide support to the community.

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