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CAYMAN ISLANDS

History

Christopher Columbus discovered the sister islands of the Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman in 1503, and referred to them as ‘Las Tortugas”, after the many turtles that were found on the shores of the islands. At the time, the impressive population of turtles is what drew ships to the islands as they sought a meat source for their crews. This activity encouraged many of the early settlers to take up fishing as an economic activity.

Over the subsequent centuries, a variety of people including pirates seeking a peaceful life, retired soldiers, refugees from the Spanish inquisition, shipwrecked soldiers and slaves came to settle on the islands and were the forefathers of the current native population. These settlers were predominantly a mix of African and British descent, helping to create the majority of mixed race natives that can be found populating the islands.

Leadership

The Cayman Islands has a British Governor that is appointed by the UK government. The Cayman’s 20 member Legislative Assembly is headed by a democratically elected Premier, who is supported by a 7 member cabinet picked from the assembly. Elections are held every 4 years and it is this assembly that sees to the domestic affairs of the nation. The legislative assembly buildings are located in the capital and largest city of the Cayman, George Town.

As an overseas territory, the defence and internal security of the islands is the responsibility of the UK. At a local level, Cayman law enforcement is undertaken by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and Cayman Islands Customs Department

Because of its overseas territory designation, the Cayman does not have representation with the UN, but does however participate in certain other international organisations such as UNESCO and Caricom.

Geography

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory that is comprised of 3 territories, including the Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. It is to be found in the north-western region of the Caribbean Sea, west of Jamaica and south of Cuba. These 3 islands cover about 100 square miles, and host a population of about 56,000.

The Grand Cayman is the largest of these islands, covering an area of about 76 square miles. The topography of the islands is mostly flat with the highest natural peak being a The Bluff on Cayman Brac that rises to 43 meters above sea level. The islands are made up predominantly of low lying limestone base that is surrounded by coral reefs that flourish with the presence of varied marine life.

Demographics

The Cayman hosts an impressive variation of people from across the world. There are currently about 100 nationalities represented, with about half being of native Caymanian descent. More than half of the 56,000 strong population is made up of mixed race peoples, primarily African-European origin.

The people are predominantly Christian with a mixture of Catholic and Presbyterian denominations prevailing.

Climate

The Cayman Islands offer a cycle of two seasons where temperatures can range from between lows of 60 F to 88 F. The dry season occurs from November to April and is the coolest period of the year. May to October is the rainy season, with June to November being the most likely months for occurrence of hurricanes. Based on historical data, the islands typically fall within the path of a hurricane every 2.23 years. A hurricane warning system overseen by the government is in place and all advisories should be taken seriously. Humidity in the region is typically high throughout the year and will vary from between 62-92%.

Health Services

The islands are primarily served by 3 major hospitals. The George Town Hospital and Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital are to be found on the Grand Cayman, while the Faith Hospital is on Cayman Brac.

Money

Being a major offshore international financial hub, Cayman plays host a wide variety of banks, with automated teller machines easily accessible throughout. The main currency on the islands is the Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD) but US dollars are also generally accepted. Please not that while spending US dollars you are likely to receive change in KYD. Most banks are open from Monday to Friday, with a few having reduced working hours on Saturdays.