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Until the 1970s, Turkish Cypriots could communicate adequately in Greek and a significant number of elderly Greek Cypriots could understand some Turkish.However, political conflict gradually led to increasing linguistic barriers.The centrally located capital, Nicosia (called Lefkosia by Greek Cypriots and Lefkosha by Turkish Cypriots), is divided and functions as the capital of each side. In 1960, the island emerged as an independent state after almost a century of British colonial rule.At that time, the demographics were as follows: Greek Cypriots, 77 percent (441,656); Turkish Cypriots, 18.3 percent (104,942); Armenians–Gregorians, 0.6 percent (3,378); and Roman Catholics and Maronites, 0.5 percent (2,752); with a total population of 573,566.Greek Cypriot official sources provided the following breakdown for the island as a whole in 1977: 735,900 total, of whom 623,200 are Greek (84.7 percent), 90,600 are Turkish (12.3 percent), and 22,100 (3 percent) are foreigners.Those sources claim that there are now 85,000 Turkish settlers on the Turkish Cypriot side and that around 45,000 Turkish Cypriots have emigrated. Greek Cypriots are taught at schools and employ in writing and orally, on formal and public occasions, standard modern Greek (SMG), while Turkish Cypriots employ standard modern Turkish (SMT).Such commemorations often stir feelings of animosity.The most important commemorations for Greek Cypriots are the start of the anticolonial struggle (1 April 1955), the independence of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960 (1 October), and the two days of mourning for the events of July 1974: the Greek attempted coup of 15 July 1974, and the subsequent Turkish military offensive on 20 July 1974, known among Greek Cypriots as the "Anniversaries of the Treacherous Coup and the Barbaric Turkish Invasion." Turkish Cypriots commemorate the establishment of the Turkish Cypriot nationalist resistance organization in 1958 (1 August 1958).

With a Greek majority of around 77 percent of the population at the time of independence in 1960, many people regard Cyprus as part of the wider Greek culture.

For informal oral exchanges, each community employs a different idiom, known within each side as "the Cyprus dialect." Those dialects are sometimes regarded as intimate, local, and authentic idioms vis–a–vis the two standard varieties, while in other contexts they may be seen as low, vulgar, or peasant idioms. When Cyprus emerged as a state in 1960, it acquired a flag but not a national anthem.

The flag shows a map of the island in orange– yellow against a white background, symbolizing the color of copper, for which the island was renowned in ancient times. The symbolism of the flag thus draws on nature rather than culture or religion.

As animosity increased, the act of speaking the enemy's language was considered unpatriotic.

Now, after twenty-six years of complete separation, very few Greek Cypriots can understand Turkish and no young Turkish Cypriots speak or understand Greek.

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