The white and red flag of the Turkish Republic of Cyprus (TRNC) is a reverse mirror of the colours and design of the flag of Turkey. The North Cyprus flag dates from 1984 after the TRNC was declared in 1983. The flag as a white background with the star and moon in red – and a red stripe at the top and bottom. The Turkish flag has a red background with the star and moon in white. Famously, there is a huge 50 acre (426 metres wide) copy of the North Cyprus flag emblazoned on the south face of the Besparmak (Five Finger) mountain range, facing Nicosia, which is visible from space and is currently the largest flag in the world.
Why is the North Cyprus (TRNC) flag different from the Turkish flag?
The North Cyprus (TRNC) flag is different from the flag of mainland Turkey as although North Cyprus shares a language, culture, currency and history with Turkey, it is an independent and separate country. North Cyprus has its own laws, parliament and institutions. Turkish Cypriots are citizens of North Cyprus and not of Turkey. However, Turkey is the protector of North Cyprus and helped to bring about its formation as a separate country in 1983. Hence when the flag was designed in 1984, it was clear that it needed to be similar, yet different, to the flag of Turkey. The flag was designed by Turkish Cypriot artist Emin Çizenel.
Why is there a moon and crescent on the Turkish and North Cyprus flags?
The moon and star are ancient Middle Eastern symbols but came to be adopted by the Ottoman Empire during the 1800s. The symbols have come to be linked to Islam, the official religion of Turkey, but are actually much older than Islam. When Turkey was formed, it adopted the Ottoman symbols for the Turkish flag and as a result, North Cyprus uses these symbols too on the flag.
Why is there a huge flag on the Besparmak mountainside?
The large mountainside flag of North Cyprus was created by the Turkish Cypriots in the 1980s initially with stones. It was created as a memorial to the massacre of many Turkish Cypriots during the failed coup and attempt by the Greek Cypriots in 1974 to unify the whole island with Greece. Nowadays, teams come from Turkey with dyes to maintain the colour.
Can you see the North Cyprus mountain flag from space?
Yes, the size of the North Cyprus (TRNC) mountainside flag means it is visible from space!
As well as the flag of North Cyprus, there is also a map of Turkey on the southern slopes of the Five Finger Mountains plus a well-known phrase by Ataturk: Ne mutlu türküm diyene (“How happy is someone who can say they are Turkish”). The size means that it is visible from most of Nicosia (Lefkosa/Lefkosia) – the capital city in the centre of the island. On special occasions and national days, the flag is lit up by thousands of bulbs at night. This inescapable reminder of Turkish Cypriot culture is not particularly popular with Greek Cypriots the other side of the border, who still campaign to have the whole island restored under the rule primarily of Greek Cypriots.
Is the North Cyprus (TRNC) flag on the mountain side the biggest in the world?
It is thought to be currently the largest in the world. In 2007 it temporarily lost this status and became the second place to an Israeli flag which was created in the desert of Masada, Israel. However, this Israeli flag is no longer visible.
If you come to North Cyprus as part of a North Cyprus International (NCI) property inspection trip or holiday and want to view the flag close up, we can direct you to the nearest village of Kaynakköy or other good viewing places.