The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago, part of the larger Antilles island grouping. They are known primarily for tourism and as an offshore financial centre. The total population is about 31,500,of whom approximately 27,000 live on Providenciales in the Caicos Islands.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are named after the Turk's-cap cactus (Melocactus communis), and the Lucayan term caya hico, meaning string of islands. The first inhabitants of the islands were Arawakan-speaking Taíno people, who crossed over from Hispaniola sometime from 500 to 800. Together with Taino who migrated from Cuba to the southern Bahamas around the same time, these people developed as the Lucayan. Around 1200 the Turks and Caicos Islands were resettled by Classical Taínos from Hispaniola.
The two island groups are in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Bahamas, north of Hispaniola, and about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from Miami in the United States, at 21°45′N 71°35′WCoordinates: 21°45′N 71°35′W. The territory is geographically contiguous to the Bahamas, both comprising the Lucayan Archipelago, but is politically a separate entity. The Caicos Islands are separated by the Caicos Passage from the closest Bahamian islands, Mayaguana and Great Inagua.
The eight main islands and more than 299 smaller islands have a total land area of 616.3 square kilometres (238.0 sq mi),[b] consisting primarily of low, flat limestone with extensive marshes and mangrove swamps and 332 square kilometres (128 sq mi) of beach front. The weather is usually sunny and relatively dry, but suffers frequent hurricanes. The islands have limited natural fresh water resources; private cisterns collect rainwater for drinking. The primary natural resources are spiny lobster, conch and other shellfish.
In 2006, GDP contributions were as follows: Hotels & Restaurants 23.27%, Financial Services 29.64%, Construction 48.71%, Wholesale & Retail Trade 20.89% and Health & Social Work 10.83%.[clarification needed] Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported.
In 2006, major sources of government revenue included Import Duties (37%), Stamp Duties from Property Transactions (20%), Work Permits and Residency Fees (9%) and Accommodation Tax (9%). The territory's gross domestic product as of late 2006 is approximately US$722 million (per capita $17,112), with an inflation rate of 3.7%.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are most well known for ripsaw music. The islands are known for their annual Music and Cultural Festival showcasing many local talents and other dynamic performances by many music celebrities from around the Caribbean and United States.
Women continue traditional crafts of using straw to make baskets and hats on the larger Caicos islands. It is possible that this continued tradition is related to the liberated Africans who joined the population directly from Africa in the 1830s and 1841 from shipwrecked slavers; they brought cultural craft skills with them.
Caicos Conch Farm
Clear Kayaking & Eco Safari
Conch World Deluxe Tour & Tasting
Concha Woncha Tours
Get on Board Water Sports
Grand Turk Cruise Center