Turks and Caicos Islands are considered the World’s best kept secret. Crystalline turquoise waters and white sand beaches are trademarks to the about 100 islands and cays that make up the “Beautiful by Nature” TCI.
- Turks and Caicos consist of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean and northern West Indies.
- The islands lie southeast of Mayaguana in The Bahamas, northeast of Cuba, and north of the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic).
- TCI is one of the smallest countries in the Caribbean.
- The islands have nearly 400 km of coastline.
- The Turks Islands are separated from the Caicos Islands by Turks Island Passage, which is around 2.000 m deep.
- One of the most known things about TCI is ripsaw music, a genre which originated on the islands.
Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory, akin to Bermuda, Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar. The islands are located in the tropical Atlantic, south of the Bahamas and about 800 km from Miami, Florida. Turks and Caicos collectively have about 100 named islands, cays and rocks, many of which are quite small. Only 9 of the islands are inhabited.
The government of Turks and Caicos is similar in structure to that of the United Kingdom, with an elected government and the Premier being the highest local elected office. As a British Overseas Territory, Queen Elizabeth II is head of state and is represented by a Governor appointed by the United Kingdom Crown.
The name Turks and Caicos is most likely originated as a warning of pirates on early maps, and essentially means “Pirate Islands”. The term Turk was once a common synonym for “pirate” and was combined with a version of the Taino term for archipelago, which was something like “cayo hico” that over time evolved into Caicos.
The first known inhabitants of the islands were Taino language peoples. The pre-Columbian inhabitants in the Turks and Caicos are often referred to as Lucayans, yet it’s likely that various Taino peoples lived in the islands over a broader span of history.
The island of Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos may have been the point of initial landfall in the New World by Columbus in 1492. The island matches the vague descriptions of the historic voyage that still survive to the same extent that the island of San Salvador does, and the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre currents make Grand Turk a likely spot.
Today, the generational population in the Turks and Caicos is largely of African origin and are primarily the descendants of African slaves brought to the islands by Loyalist settlers in the late 1700s and of slaves freed by the British in the mid and later 1800s.
TCI have six main islands that support resident populations. Providenciales supports by far the greatest share of the population, development and activities. Grand Turk is home to the nation’s capital of Cockburn Town and is the only island with a cruise ship port. The large islands of North Caicos and Middle Caicos are the greenest, have some great outdoor sights and landscapes, are connected by a road causeway and are sparsely populated. South Caicos is the fishing capital of the country and has some limited luxury development. The relatively small island of Salt Cay offers some beautiful and secluded beaches, excellent diving and has an interesting historical ambiance.
Today, tourism and luxury real estate is the primary driver of the economy and Turks and Caicos is fast becoming one of the top vacation destinations in the Caribbean. Popular activities include boat charters, water sports of many different types and scuba diving.
The spectacular marine environment is Turks and Caicos’ primary tourism attraction. Incredible turquoise and blue ocean water, white sand beaches and pristine reefs are found across the archipelago. The islands have what is likely the widest blue hole in the world, the largest dry cave system in the Lucayan Archipelago and the second largest barrier reef in the Atlantic. In previous centuries TCI was one of the foremost sea salt producers in the world.
Grace Bay Beach, located on the island of Providenciales, is the top sight in Turks and Caicos and is consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world. Most of the luxury resorts and hotels in the country are located on the beach.
For more visit: www.visittci.com