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Main Article: History of the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands were first visited by Christopher Columbus on May 10, 1503 during his fourth and final voyage to the New World. The first first recorded english visitor to the islands was Sir Francis Drake, who landed there in 1586 and named them the Cayman Islands. The islands, along with nearby Jamaica, were ceded to England in 1670 under the Treaty of Madrid. They were governed as a single colony with Jamaica until 1962 when they became a separate British overseas territory and Jamaica became an independent commonwealth realm.
The island of Grand Cayman was severely damaged by the Category Five Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, which destroyed many buildings and damaging nearly all. Power, water and communications were all disrupted. Ivan was the worst hurricane to hit the islands in 86 years.
Main Article: Geography of the Cayman IslandsThe Cayman Islands are located in the western Caribbean sea. The three islands are situated about 480 miles south of Miami, 150 miles south of Cuba, and 180 miles northwest of Jamaica. Grand Cayman is by far the largest, with an area of 76 square miles. The two "Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are located about 90 miles east of Grand Cayman and have areas of 14 square miles and 10 square miles respectivly.
All three islands were formed by large coral heads and are mostly flat. One notable acception to this is The Bluff on Cayman Brac, which rises to 140 feet above sea level, the highest point on the island.
Main Article: Demographics of the Cayman Islands
The population of the Cayman Islands is 34,763 as of July 2000. Out of that number, about half are of Caymanian desent. About 60% of the population is of mixed race. Of the remaining 40%, about half are Caucasian and half are of African desent. The islands are almost exclusivly Christian, with large number of Roman Catholics and Anglicans. Caymanians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the West Indies. The vast majority of the population resides on Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac is the second most populated with about 2,000 residents, followed by Little Cayman with around 200 permanent residents.
The Capitol and major city of the Cayman Islands is George Town, which is located on the west coast of Grand Cayman.
Main Article: Economy of the Cayman Islands
The economy of the Cayman Islands used to be built around turtling. However, this industry began to disappear in the 20th century and tourism and financial services began to become predominant due to the advent of modrn transportation. The United States of America is the Cayman Islands' largest trading partner.
With an average income of around $35,000, Cayamians enjoy the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. The islands print their own currency, the Cayman Dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed rate of 1 USD=1.227 CI.
Tourism accounts for 70-75% of the annual GDP of the Cayman Islands and is hence a major part of the economy. Of the millions of tourists that visit the islands annually, 99% of the them stay of Grand Cayman. George Town also serves as a major cruise ship port, which brings in 2000-3000 tourists 5 days a week.
Grand Cayman's major tourists attraction is the world-famous Seven Mile Beach on which most of the island's hotels and resorts are located. SMB was recently named the "Caribbean's Best Beach" by Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine and is regarded by many as one of the best beaches in the world.
The Cayman Islands are also world famous as a Scuba Diving destination because of their proximity to the Cayman Wall and the Cayman Trench, which extend deep into the coral reefs of the Caribbean. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are also considered to be elite dive destinations.
See Also: Scuba Diving on the Cayman Islands
Financial Services IndustryEdit
Because the Cayman Islands are not subject to direct taxation by the british government, they serve as an international offshore banking hub and tax haven for millions of people and corporations. As of July 2000, almost 40,000 companies were incorporated on the Cayman Islands including 600 banking and trust companies with assets in excess of $500 billion.
Government and PoliticsEdit
Main Article: Politics of the Cayman Islands
Although it is a British dependency, the Cayman Islands are largely self governing concerning local affairs. A 15 seat legislative assembly is elected by the people every 4 years to handle domestic affairs. Out of the elected members of the assembly, 5 are chosen to serve as government ministers. The head of government is the Head of Government Buisness, which is currently Hon. Kurt Tibbles.
A Governor-General is appointed by the british government to represent the monarch. In modern times, the governor's powers are limited to handling defense, foreign affairs and the police force. The current governor of the Cayman Islands is H.E. Bruce Dinwiddy.
The islands have been governed by a written constitution since becoming a seperate british colony in 1962. Currently, the governor has called for the constitution to be modernized, an issue being debated by the legislative assembly.
Main Article: Military of the Cayman Islands
The defence of the Cayman Islands is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. Therefore, the islands have no established military. They do however have their own police force, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and in 2001, the small Cayman Islands Cadet Corps was formed in the place of a traditional army.
Foreign Relations Edit
Main Article: Foreign relations of the Cayman Islands
The foreign relations of the Cayman Islands are largely managed from the United Kingdom, as the islands remain an overseas territory of the UK. However, the Government of the Cayman Islands often resolves important issues with foreign governments alone, without intervention from Britain. Although in its early days, the Cayman Islands' most important relationships were with Britain and Jamaica, in recent years, this has shifted, and they now rely more so on the United States.
Though the Cayman Islands are involved in no major international disputes, they have come under some criticism due to the use of their territory for narcotics trafficking and money laundering. In an attempt to address this, the Government entered into the Narcotics Agreement of 1984 and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of 1986 with the United States, in order to reduce the use of their facilities associated with these activities. In more recent years, they have stepped up the fight against money laundering, by limiting banking secrecy, introducing requirements for customer identification and record keeping, and requiring banks to cooperate with foreign investigators.
Due to their status as an overseas territory of the UK, the Cayman Islands have no representation either on the United Nations, or in most other international organizations. However, the Cayman Islands still participates in some international organisations, being a full member of the Central Development Bank and International Olympic Committee, an associate member of Caricom and UNESCO, and a member of a sub-bureau of Interpol.
In fiction Edit
- Template:Web reference Originally from the CIA World Factbook 2000.
- Template:AnbTemplate:Web reference
- Cayman Islands Government
- Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
- Cayman Island Overview
- Cayman Net News Newspaper
- Go To Cayman
- Grand Cayman Island Vacation Travel Guide
|Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas¹ | Barbados | Belize | Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Haiti | Jamaica | Montserrat | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago|
|Associate members: Anguilla | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | British Virgin Islands | Turks and Caicos Islands|
|Observer status: Aruba | Colombia | Dominican Republic | Mexico | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Venezuela|
|¹ member of the community but not the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy.|
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