The hundreds of tables lining the picturesque, Medieval harbor here are empty. The restaurants have good food, and proprietors who are anxious to please. But there are few customers these days.

This sun-bathed little town on the northern coast of what is now the Turkish Federal State of Cyprus was booming with German, French, Italian and Greek tourists a few years ago. Now, it is part of the shifting economic fortunes and political troubles that followed the turmoil of 1974.

That is the year when then-ruling Greek Military junta briefly overthrew the established government of Cyprus, touching off a Turkish invasion that first came ashore just five miles from here and rolled on to occupy almost 40 percent of an island whose population is about 80 percent Greek-Cypriot.

Although, as one Turkish official put it, "We would rather be free and safe than be rich slaves," the economic fortunes of the Turkish-Cypriot community - less than 20 percent of the island total population - clearly seem to be sagging in comparison to the Greek side.

Before the turmoil, tourism was a major industry in Cyprus. But now the two key resorts, Famagusta and Kyrenia, are in the turkish zone and there is basically no way to get there except from Turkey.

Last summer, a new airport was completed with Turkish aid and opened in the Turkish-Cyproit sector in the north of Cyprus. But the field lacks approval by the International Air Transport Association, and the only airlines that land there are Turkish.

Varosha, the new part of Famagusta that was once a Greek-Cypriot strong-hold and the location of a thriving strip of about 40 hotels, many of them owned by foreign interest is now largely a ghost town. Although foreign reporters generally are allowed to travel freely in the Turkish-Cypriot zone, Turkish officials did not grant a request to travel to Varosha. They said, however, that foreigners who own property there are allowed to visit to check on their holdings.

For all practical purposes, then, the barbed-wire border between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities is closed.

The separation of the Turkish part of the island also involved adoption of the Turkish lira as the Turkish-Cypriot currency, rather than the Cyprus Pound, which is still used in the Greek zone and was previously the statewide currency.

The Cyprus pound has turned out to be one of the strongest currencies in the eastern Mediterranean and has actually increased in value in recent years by some 20 percent in comparison to the U.S. dollar. The Turkish lira, however - reflecting serious economic problems of the Turkish mainland, and Ankara's large trade deficits - is weak and the switch in currency has brought with it some degree of unhappiness among the Turkish-Cypriots, according to neutral sources.

The Turks are also now in control of the major citrus growing areas in Cyprus, but much of the small industry in the north that was Greek-owned was left in latters as some 200,000 Greek-Cypriots fled south after the Turkish invasion.

Although a considerable number of Greek-Cypriot workers left their island for jobs in Arab countries and in Eastern Europe - especially Czechoslavakia and Bulgaria - the Nicosia government is providing loans of up to 70 percent to displaced industrialists to reestablish in the south. By all accounts here, business is in a miniboom period in the Greek-Cypriot areas now. In part, this is also due to other people's troubles. Considerable funds from the war-torn Lebanese capital of Beirut are now said to be passing through Greek-Cypriot banks.

Greek ties to business communities around the world and the ability to attract development aid clearly seems to be a factor in the economic recovery here as opposed to the north.