Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands
/kay"man', -meuhn/
three islands in the West Indies, NW of Jamaica: a British crown colony. 10,249; 104 sq. mi. (269 sq. km).

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Cayman Islands

Introduction Cayman Islands -
Background: The Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British during the 18th and 19th centuries. Administered by Jamaica from 1863, they remained a British dependency after 1962 when the former became independent. Geography Cayman Islands
Location: Caribbean, island group in Caribbean Sea, nearly one-half of the way from Cuba to Honduras
Geographic coordinates: 19 30 N, 80 30 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 262 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 262 sq km
Area - comparative: 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 160 km
Maritime claims: exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical marine; warm, rainy summers (May to October) and cool, relatively dry winters (November to April)
Terrain: low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: The Bluff 43 m
Natural resources: fish, climate and beaches that foster tourism
Land use: arable land: 0% permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: hurricanes (July to November) Environment - current issues: no natural fresh water resources; drinking water supplies must be met by rainwater catchments
Geography - note: important location between Cuba and Central America People Cayman Islands -
Population: 36,273 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22% (male 3,836; female 4,156) 15-64 years: 69.7% (male 12,335; female 12,929) 65 years and over: 8.3% (male 1,399; female 1,618) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.03% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 13.45 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 5.24 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 12.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population note: major destination for Cubans trying to migrate to the US (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 0.86 male(s)/female under 15 years: 0.92 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/ female total population: 0.94 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 9.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.18 years female: 81.59 years (2002 est.) male: 76.38 years
Total fertility rate: 2.03 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Caymanian(s) adjective: Caymanian
Ethnic groups: mixed 40%, white 20%, black 20%, expatriates of various ethnic groups 20%
Religions: United Church (Presbyterian and Congregational), Anglican, Baptist, Church of God, other Protestant, Roman Catholic
Languages: English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school total population: 98% male: 98% female: 98% (1970 est.) Government Cayman Islands -
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Cayman Islands
Dependency status: overseas territory of the UK
Government type: British crown colony
Capital: George Town Administrative divisions: 8 districts; Creek, Eastern, Midland, South Town, Spot Bay, Stake Bay, West End, Western
Independence: none (overseas territory of the UK)
National holiday: Constitution Day, first Monday in July
Constitution: 1959, revised 1972 and 1992
Legal system: British common law and local statutes
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Governor Bruce DINWIDDY (since 29 May 2002) elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the governor is appointed by the monarch head of government: W. McKeeva BUSH (since NA December 2001) cabinet: Executive Council (three members appointed by the governor, four members elected by the Legislative Assembly)
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly (18 seats, three appointed members from the Executive Council and 15 elected by popular vote; members serve four- year terms) elections: last held 8 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2004) election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats - NA
Judicial branch: Summary Court; Grand Court; Cayman Islands Court of Appeal Political parties and leaders: there are no formal political parties but the following loose groupings act as political organizations; National Team [leader NA]; Democratic Alliance [leader NA]; Team Cayman [leader NA]; United Democratic Party [leader NA] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization Caricom (observer), CDB, Interpol
participation: (subbureau), IOC, UNESCO (associate) Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of the UK) Diplomatic representation from the none (overseas territory of the UK)
Flag description: blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Caymanian coat of arms on a white disk centered on the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms includes a pineapple and turtle above a shield with three stars (representing the three islands) and a scroll at the bottom bearing the motto HE HATH FOUNDED IT UPON THE SEAS Economy Cayman Islands
Economy - overview: With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 40,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 1998, including almost 600 banks and trust companies; banking assets exceed $500 billion. A stock exchange was opened in 1997. Tourism is also a mainstay, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is aimed at the luxury market and caters mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 1.2 million in 1997, with 600,000 from the US. About 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy one of the highest outputs per capita and one of the highest standards of living in the world.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.18 billion (1999 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.5% (2000)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $30,000 (1999 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.4% industry: 3.2% services: 95.4% (1994 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.3% (2000)
Labor force: 19,820 (1995) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 1.4%, industry 12.6%, services 86% (1995)
Unemployment rate: 4.1% (1997)
Budget: revenues: $265.2 million expenditures: $248.9 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997)
Industries: tourism, banking, insurance and finance, construction, construction materials, furniture Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 355 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 330.15 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: vegetables, fruit; livestock, turtle farming
Exports: $1.2 million (1999)
Exports - commodities: turtle products, manufactured consumer goods
Exports - partners: mostly US
Imports: $457.4 million (1999)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, manufactured goods
Imports - partners: US, Trinidad and Tobago, UK, Netherlands Antilles, Japan
Debt - external: $70 million (1996) Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: Caymanian dollar (KYD)
Currency code: KYD
Exchange rates: Caymanian dollars per US dollar - 0.82 (29 October 2001), 0.83 (3 November 1995), 0.85 (22 November 1993)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Cayman Islands - Telephones - main lines in use: 19,000 (1995) Telephones - mobile cellular: 2,534 (1995)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: NA international: 1 submarine coaxial cable; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 36,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 with cable system
Televisions: 7,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .ky Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 16 (2000)
Internet users: NA Transportation Cayman Islands -
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 406 km paved: 304 km unpaved: 102 km
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Cayman Brac, George Town
Merchant marine: total: 121 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,034,181 GRT/3,191,597 DWT ships by type: bulk 24, cargo 4, chemical tanker 34, container 1, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 14, refrigerated cargo 40, roll on/ roll off 2, specialized tanker 1 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Bahrain 2, China 1, Germany 4, Greece 27, Hong Kong 3, Italy 2, Japan 1, Norway 14, Sweden 13, United Kingdom 15, United States 35 (2002 est.)
Airports: 3 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001) Military Cayman Islands -
Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; Royal Cayman Islands Police Force (RCIPF)
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the UK Transnational Issues Cayman Islands - Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: vulnerable to drug money laundering and drug transshipment to the US and Europe

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British colony (pop., 2000 est.: 34,763), Caribbean Sea.

Located about 200 mi (320 km) northwest of Jamaica, it has a total land area of 118 sq mi (306 sq km). The islands include Grand Cayman (the largest and the location of the capital, George Town), Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. Though discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503, the islands were never occupied by the Spanish. Ceded to the British in 1670, they were subsequently settled by the English arriving from Jamaica. The islands were administered as a dependency of Jamaica until Jamaican independence in 1962; a constitution providing for an elected governor was enacted in 1972. The Cayman Islands are a popular tourist area and a financial centre.

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▪ islands, West Indies
Cayman Islands, flag of   island group and overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the Caribbean Sea, comprising the islands of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac, situated about 180 miles (290 km) northwest of Jamaica. The islands are the outcroppings of a submarine mountain range that extends northeastward from Belize to Cuba. The capital is George Town, on Grand Cayman. Area 100 square miles (259 square km). Pop. (2005 est.) 52,465.

 The islands are generally low-lying, though Cayman Brac has a central bluff that constitutes 90 percent of its landmass. The coasts are ironshore (limestone fringes with numerous marine fossils) interspersed with sandy beaches and enclosed by coral reefs. Grand Cayman is the largest and most populous island, about 22 miles (35 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) across at its widest, with a total area of 76 square miles (197 square km). It has a 36-square-mile (93-square-km) sound that is a breeding ground for much marine life. Cayman Brac, about 89 miles (143 km) northeast of Grand Cayman, is the next largest island; it is about 12 miles (19 km) long, averages about 1 mile (1.6 km) in width, and has the highest elevation of the group, rising to 140 feet (42 metres) above sea level. Its total area is 14 square miles (36 square km). The smallest of the islands, Little Cayman, lies 5 miles (8 km) west of Cayman Brac; it is 10 miles (16 km) long and has a maximum width of 2 miles (3 km) and a total area of 10 square miles (26 square km). There are no rivers.

      The Caymans are located on the boundary between two tectonic plates, one moving eastward and one westward; minor tremors resulting from the movement of the plates are sometimes recorded. In December 2004 an earthquake of greater than usual magnitude was felt on Grand Cayman, although there were no injuries and no damage was caused to property.

      A pleasant tropical climate is one of the territory's main assets, tourism being of primary importance to the economy. Temperatures are moderate throughout the year, averaging about 81 °F (27 °C) annually. The rainy season extends from mid-May through October, and the dry season lasts the balance of the year. The Caymans are cool from November to March, with temperatures ranging 65–75 °F (18–24 °C). Rainfall at George Town averages 60 inches (about 1,500 mm) annually, although the eastern districts of Grand Cayman and the other islands are drier. Hurricanes can occur from June through November.

      Mangrove swamps cover nearly one-third of the land area. A variety of commercially useful plants grow on the islands; among them are coconut palms and breadfruit, banana, mango, and citrus fruit trees. There are also thatch palms and some logwood and mahogany trees. The only indigenous mammals are agoutis. There are many reptiles, including green sea turtles, which were noted by Christopher Columbus (Columbus, Christopher) when he visited the islands. Iguanas, other lizards, and frogs are also common, and the islands are rich in birdlife.

      About one-fifth of Caymanians are of European, mainly British, ancestry; another fifth are blacks, the descendants of African slaves; and two-fifths are of mixed African and European ancestry. The remainder of the residents are of other mixed ancestry or are expatriates. The main spoken language is English, which is heard in a variety of dialects. Spanish is frequently a second language. The main population centre is George Town, where more than half the population lives. Grand Cayman has more than four-fifths of the population. Caymanians are overwhelmingly Christian; the chief religious denominations are United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (Presbyterian/Congregational), Church of God, Baptist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Seventh-day Adventist.

 The economy depends on banking, tourism, and other services. The Caymans have the highest per capita income in the Caribbean.

      The physical beauty and superb climate of the islands have made them a haven for tourists. The government invested heavily in promoting tourism, which increased eightfold between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s. Since then tourism has continued to grow steadily, as the islands have developed a good reputation for diving. Most visitors are from the United States. Airports on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac and a private airstrip on Little Cayman facilitate tourist traffic. Cruise ships call at Grand Cayman, bringing some one million visitors annually on day trips. In addition, hundreds of thousands of stopover tourists (those who stay one or more nights) visit the islands each year.

      International finance has become a major component of the economy. The Cayman Islands are renowned as an offshore banking centre, owing to the absence of direct taxes and to liberal banking laws that generally ensure confidential transactions. Hundreds of banks and trust companies, including most of the world's 50 largest banks, are registered in the Caymans, making the islands one of the largest financial centres in the world. Revenue paid by registered businesses contributes considerably to the government budget. There is a shortage of labour, and much of the workforce is made up of immigrants on tightly controlled work permits.

      The chief occupations on the Cayman Islands are in clerical and service work and in the construction trades. Agriculture occupies only a small number of Caymanians, and most of the islands' food must be imported. The main crops are citrus fruits and bananas, as well as mangoes, plantains, coconuts, sweet potatoes, yams, and tomatoes. Some livestock is raised, chiefly cattle and poultry. Turtles raised on a government-operated turtle farm provide food, shells, and leather.

      Exports are few. The major imports are machinery and transport equipment, other manufactured items, fuels, and foods. The United States is the Caymans' primary trading partner in both imports and exports; other major sources of imports are the Netherlands Antilles and Japan.

Government and society
      The constitution, which came into effect in 1972 and was amended in 1994, provides for internal autonomy under a governor (who represents the British monarch), a cabinet, and a Legislative Assembly. The governor is head of state and is responsible for foreign affairs, defense, internal security, the police, and the civil service. The governor also leads the cabinet, which includes three so-called official members and five members elected by the Legislative Assembly from among their own number. The Legislative Assembly consists of 3 members appointed by the governor and 15 elected members.

      The Cayman Islands did not have formal political parties for many years; instead, so-called “national teams” made up of nominally independent politicians ran in elections. The Progressive Democratic Party (formed in 1991) was the first political organization to take shape since the 1960s; in 1996 two other groups, the Democratic Alliance and Team Cayman, emerged. Two formal parties, the United Democratic Party and the People's Progressive Movement, were established in 2001 and 2002, respectively.

      There are three levels of courts in the Cayman Islands. The Summary Court, including the Youth Court, has civil and criminal jurisdiction. Appeals from the Summary Court go to the Grand Court, which also hears the more serious cases within the criminal, family, common law and civil jurisdictions. Legal actions taken as a result of international offshore banking and financial activities in the Caymans usually are brought before the Grand Court; these involve complex issues and substantial assets. The Court of Appeal hears appeals from the Grand Court; it is composed of a president and at least two judges of appeal. Caymanian magistrates and judges are appointed by the governor on the advice of various other officials, depending on the court on which the justices will serve. The final appellate court is Britain's Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in London.

      The government provides adequate social services, and (because of the chronic labour shortage) the unemployment rate is low. Health care is provided by the Health Services Authority, which operates a hospital on Grand Cayman, a smaller one on Cayman Brac, and a clinic on Little Cayman. The incidence of tropical diseases on the islands is low.

      Education is compulsory for children between ages 5 and 16 and is provided free in government primary schools. The government also operates three secondary schools. Institutions of higher education are the International College of the Cayman Islands (1970), the University College of the Cayman Islands (1975; formerly Community College of the Cayman Islands), and the Cayman Islands Law School (1982), all located in George Town.

Cultural life
 Although the island has close historical and political connections to the United Kingdom, the culture and lifestyle of the Cayman Islands is strongly Americanized. There is a daily newspaper, a government-owned radio station, and a monthly newsmagazine. The Cayman Islands National Museum in George Town traces the islands' seafaring history. The Cayman National Cultural Foundation, which depends on a combination of private and government funding, sponsors programs in the arts and maintains the F.J. Harquail Cultural Centre on Grand Cayman, the main venue for local and visiting companies. The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is primarily an education organization that promotes the visual arts of the islands and sponsors local and international exhibitions of Caymanian art. Theatrical performances and art exhibits are also held by community organizations, and many residents engage in craft work, especially the making of jewelry from black coral. Outdoor recreation centres around the islands' extensive beaches and clear coastal waters.

History (Cayman Islands)
      The Cayman Islands were sighted by Christopher Columbus (Columbus, Christopher) on May 10, 1503, during his last voyage to the West Indies. At first the Spaniards named the islands Las Tortugas because of the many turtles in the surrounding waters, but by 1530 they were known as the Caimanas or Caymanes for the alligators (caimánes) reported to be native there. After the Treaty of Madrid (1670)—which ceded Jamaica and a number of other Caribbean islands, including the Caymans, to Great Britain—the first permanent settlement was established on Grand Cayman. Most of the inhabitants were British mariners, privateers, shipwrecked passengers, and African slaves, as well as land-grant holders from Jamaica. The remoteness of the islands, and integration following the emancipation of slaves in 1835, resulted in a socially homogeneous society.

      By the end of the 18th century, uncontrolled fishing eliminated the native turtle population, which had been virtually the only resource of the islands. Cayman Islanders searched increasingly farther away for new turtle grounds, but, as international restrictions grew, turtle fishing was greatly reduced.

      For some time the Cayman Islands were a dependency of Jamaica, becoming internally self-governing in July 1959. When Jamaica declared its independence (1962), the Caymans reverted to direct British rule. A new constitution providing for autonomy on most domestic issues was approved in 1972. The Caymans had by then developed offshore banking and tourism, enabling the colony to relinquish aid from Britain. The constitution was revised in 1994; a bill of rights was added and amendments were made to the rules of the Legislative Assembly, among other changes.

      In response to concerns over the lack of transparency of the offshore financial sector, the Cayman Islands have concluded treaties with the United States that provide for mutual legal assistance and the exchange of tax information in the investigation of financial crimes. In 1999 the British government published draft legislation confirming that its colonies were to be referred to as United Kingdom Overseas Territories and that all such territories would be obliged to comply with European Union standards on human rights and financial regulation. Under the legislation, citizens of the overseas territories were granted full British citizenship. In the early 21st century a movement began to modernize the constitution, and a government committee submitted a draft to the Legislative Assembly in 2001. Talks stalled in 2004, but by 2007 the process was back on track.

      The Cayman Islands were in the path of Hurricane Ivan, the most destructive storm of the 2004 hurricane season. Grand Cayman was badly hit and suffered great economic loss, particularly in the tourist sector; a national disaster was declared. The government instituted a large-scale effort to repair damage to beaches and infrastructure, and the tourist trade was largely restored to full operation within the next several years.

Carol Ann Winker Elizabeth Pat Ebanks James A. Ferguson

Additional Reading
Pictorial works include Amanda Lumry, Cayman: A Photographic Journey Through the Islands, 2nd ed. (2005); and Paul Humann and Jenny Driver, The Cayman Islands: Island Portrait (2000). Information on the people is available from government publications such as Statistical Abstracts of the Cayman Islands (annual); and Cayman Islands, Annual Reports.A classic source on history remains George S.S. Hirst, Notes on the History of the Cayman Islands, in parts (1909–10, reprinted 5 vol. in 3, 1967). Ulf Hannerz, Caymanian Politics: Structure and Style in a Changing Island Society (1974), is also of interest. Michael Craton, Founded upon the Sea: A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People (2003), is a well-researched and comprehensive work by a noted Caribbean historian. Roger C. Smith, The Maritime Heritage of the Cayman Islands (2000), examines the islands' seafaring traditions. Roy Bodden, The Cayman Islands in Transition: The Politics, History, and Sociology of a Changing Society (2007), presents a multidisciplinary history by a former Caymanian government minister.James A. Ferguson

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Universalium. 2010.

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