The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, 8 of which are inhabited, located to the southeast of the Bahamas island chain and 575 miles southeast of Florida.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory. The Governor is appointed by the Queen and presides over an Executive Council. Local self-government is headed by the Chief Minister and is carried out by elected ministers and a legislative council, which is empowered to enact local status. Government offices are located on Grand Turk.
The country consists of two island groups separated by the 22-mile-wide Columbus Passage. To the west is the Caicos group of Islands: West Caicos, Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, and South Caicos. To the east is the Turks Island group; Grand Turk and Salt Cay.
The legal system is based upon the English Common Law and is administered by a resident Chief Justice, Chief Magistrate and three Deputy Magistrates. Judges of the Courts of Appeal visit the Islands twice a year and there is a final right to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London, U.K.
The United States dollar is the primary currency of TCI. Travelers’ cheques in U.S. dollar amounts are widely accepted and other currency can be changed at local Banks. American Express, VISA, and MasterCard are welcomed by many locations.
TCI is Eastern Standard Time, observing Daylight Saving Time.
The average annual temperature is 83 degrees in the summer and 70 degrees in the winter. Rainfall averages 22 inches annually.
The electricity is suitable for all U.S. appliances (110 volts, 60 cycles).
Historically, the economy of TCI relied upon the export of salt. Currently, tourism is the main industry followed by financial services. Fishing is also one of the most important industries in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Islands’ main exports are lobster and conch. Practically all consumer goods and most foods are imported.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are recognized as an important Offshore Center offering services as company formation, offshore insurance, banking, trust, limited partnership and limited life companies. The Financial Services Commission regulates the industry and spearheads the development of offshore legislation.
Travel to the Turks and Caicos is relatively easy, with direct flights offered by American Airlines, US Airways, Delta Airlines, Air Canada and British Airways from Miami, New York, Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Toronto, and London to the International Airport in Providenciales. Local carriers SkyKing and Turks Air Turks has daily flights throughout the islands. Charters are also available to travel around the islands.
Most visitors are required to travel with their passports. Visitors from North America may enter without a passport if they have a birth certificate and one piece of identification bearing a photograph. A valid onward or return ticket is also required.
The population in the Turks and Caicos Islands is around 25,000 plus.
There is no exchange control and there is no direct taxation.
The Turks and Caicos is a premier dive and snorkeling destination. The landmass of TCI covers 193 square miles and is surrounded by one of the largest coral reefs in the world.
TCI has over 325 square miles of National Parks, Nature Reserve, Sanctuaries and Historical Sites, which are protected as part of TCI’s effort to maintain the unspoiled beauty of its islands, and preserve the indigenous flora and fauna. Approximately 210 square miles of this protected area are sensitive and ecologically essential wetlands of international importance as ratified under the Ramsar Convention.
Each island in the Turks and Caicos Islands is unique in its own way
Grand Turk is the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands and also financial center of the Turks and Caicos Islands. It has the second largest population. Grand Turks is one of the main historical points of the Turks and Caicos Islands. This island harbors the Turks and Caicos National Museum and alongside Salt Cay holds the historic and cultural sites of the islands with ruins and old colonial buildings. The main attraction for this Island is diving, with many dive operators and schools it can cater for novice snorkels to experienced divers. There is outstanding protected coral reef which has clear and calm waters. Grand Turk and Salt Cay offer some of the best wall diving and whale-watching in the world. Other historical sites in Grand Turk are the Light House and the St. Thomas Parish Church built in 1823. Grand Turk is known to be the first place that Columbus discovered in 1492 and known for much more.
Salt Cay covering 2.5 miles is the smallest island in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Salt Cay was the center of the Bermudan salt industry and the mainstay of the Turks and Caicos economy from the late 1600’s until the early 1960’s.
The island is largely divided into squares controlled by windmills that no longer turn and Salinas holding slowly evaporating seawater. Salt Cay also hosts whaling industry that once existed. The whaling station at Taylor’s Hill has long been lying in ruins, visitors to this land in the winter is amazed at the gigantic Humpback Whales. The remnants of the salt mining era, including the white house, a landmark owned by descendants of Bermuda salt rakers, is a landmark and contains the original antique furniture. With a population of only 200 people, Salt Cay is where you can experience total relaxation and where time stand still.
South Caicos is an 8.5 square mile island which attracts visitors for its fishing, birdlife, history, fresh sea food dishes and diving. This island is the center of the country’s fishing industry.
South Caicos is the fishing capital of the islands, and boasts of the natural harbour and several fishing plants, processing most of the nation’s seafood harvest of lobster, conch and fish for export and local consumption.
Historical features of the island include the 18th century Commissioner’s House where Queen Elizaneth stayed during her visit to South Caicos in 1966, The Old Salt Works and the boiling hole, which once fed the saltpans that once made South Caicos the islands’ largest producer of salt.
Providenciales is the business center of the islands. Providenciales is the most developed of all the islands, and offers alongside water sports and golf, an American Casino and tennis, as well as an inexpensive array of World Class Spas. Providenciales, covering an area of 38 square miles, is the hub of tourism and development. Its white long stretch sandy beaches rank among the best in the world, with 12-mile Grace Bay being the most well known. Provo Golf Club, designed by Karl Litten, is considered one of the best place to play in the Caribbean
North Caicos is known as the “Emerald Isle”. It is the greenest of all the islands with exotic fruit trees has the largest flock of Flamingos. Wades Green was one of the most successful plantations of the Loyalist era; the ruins of which is preserved. You will find ospreys and many other birds at the island’s numerous nature reserves and sanctuaries, along with a rich variety of other wildlife. This pristine island has recently begun to undergo controlled development.
Middle Caicos is the largest Island in the Turks and Caicos Islands covering 48 square miles. This island is famous for having one of the longest limestone cave networks in the world, with stalactites, stalagmites, and salt lakes that connect to sea.
East Caicos is an uninhabited island but is large in size being 18 square miles. A majority of the island is inundated by swamps and mangroves, you can find the highest point of the islands here. There is a splendid 17 mile beach on the north coast of the island, this is usually only used by Sea Turtles to lay their eggs because of the large mosquito population. Near Jacksonville in the north west of the island there are a series of caves that used to be used for mining bat guano, and petroglyphs shows early evidence of settlers on the island.
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