Turks and Caicos Islands

Introduction The islands were part of the UK's Jamaican colony until 1962, when they assumed the status of a separate crown colony upon Jamaica's independence. The governor of The Bahamas oversaw affairs from 1965 to 1973. With Bahamian independence, the islands received a separate governor in 1973. Although independence was agreed upon for 1982, the policy was reversed and the islands remain a British overseas territory.
History

Early inhabitants of the islands were Amerindians, including the Arawak people, who were, over the centuries, gradually replaced by the Caribs. The first documented European to sight the islands was Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León, who did so in 1512. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the islands passed from Spanish, to French, to British control, but none of the three powers ever established any settlements.

For several decades around the turn of the 18th century they became popular pirate hideouts. Bermudian salt collectors settled the Turk Islands around 1680. In 1765–1783 they were under French occupation. After the American Revolution (1775–1783) many loyalists fled to Caribbean colonies, including (in 1783) the first settlers on the Caicos Islands; cotton became an important crop briefly. In 1799, both the Turks and the Caicos island groups were annexed by Britain as part of the Bahamas.

In 1841 the Trouvadore, a Spanish ship engaged in the slave trade, wrecked off the coast of East Caicos, one of the larger Caicos Islands. One hundred and ninety-two captive African Blacks survived the sinking and made it to shore where, under British rule, the slave trade was illegal. These survivors were apprenticed to trades for one year then settled mostly on Grand Turk Island. An 1878 letter documents the "Trouvadore Africans" and their descendants as constituting an essential part of the "labouring population" on the islands. In 2004 marine archaeologists rediscovered a wreck, called the "Black Rock Ship," that subsequent research has suggested may be that of the Trouvadore. This suggestion was further supported when a marine archaeology expedition funded by NOAA in November of 2008 confirmed that the wreck comprises artifacts whose time of manufacture and style support the association of this wreck with that of the Trouvadore. The wreckage has, however, not been identified with absolute certainty.

In 1848 the Turks and Caicos were declared a separate colony under a council president. The last incumbent was maintained in 1873 when the islands were made part of Jamaica colony; in 1894 the chief colonial official was restyled commissioner. In 1917, Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden suggested that the Turks and Caicos join Canada, but this suggestion was shot down by British prime minister David Lloyd George. The islands remained a dependency of Jamaica until 1959.

On 4 July 1959, the islands were again a separate colony, the last commissioner being restyled administrator, but the governor of Jamaica remained the governor of the islands. Until 31 May 1962, they were one of the constitutive parts of the Federation of the West Indies.

When Jamaica was granted independence from Britain in August 1962, the Turks and Caicos Islands became a crown colony. From 1965, the governor of the Bahamas was also governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands and oversaw affairs for the islands. When the Bahamas gained independence in 1973, the Turks and Caicos received their own governor (the last administrator was restyled). In 1974, Canadian New Democratic Party MP Max Saltsman tried to use his Private Member's Bill to create legislation to annex the islands to Canada, but it didn't pass in the Canadian House of Commons.

The islands have had their own government headed by a chief minister since August 1976. In 1979, independence was agreed upon in principle for 1982, but a change in government caused a policy reversal, and they instead approached the Canadian government to discuss a possible union, but at the time the Canadian Government was embroiled in a debate over free trade with the U.S., and little attention was paid to the suggestion. The islands' political troubles in recent years have resulted in a rewritten constitution promulgated in 2006.

Geography Location: Caribbean, two island groups in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of The Bahamas, north of Haiti
Geographic coordinates: 21 45 N, 71 35 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 430 sq km
land: 430 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 389 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; marine; moderated by trade winds; sunny and relatively dry
Terrain: low, flat limestone; extensive marshes and mangrove swamps
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Blue Hills 49 m
Natural resources: spiny lobster, conch
Land use: arable land: 2.33%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 97.67% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: frequent hurricanes
Environment - current issues: limited natural fresh water resources, private cisterns collect rainwater
Geography - note: about 40 islands (eight inhabited)
Politics

The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory, an autonomous part of the United Kingdom. The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes the territory on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The islands adopted a constitution on 30 August 1976, which is Constitution Day, the national holiday. The constitution was suspended in 1986, but restored and revised 5 March 1988. A new constitution came into force on 9 August 2006. The territory's legal system is based on English common law, with a small number of laws adopted from Jamaica and the Bahamas. Suffrage is universal for those over 18 years of age. English is the official language. Grand Turk is the administrative and political capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Cockburn Town has been the seat of government since 1766.

As a British territory, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is the sovereign, represented by a governor. The head of government is the premier. The cabinet consists of three ex officio members and five appointed by the governor from among the members of the House of Assembly. The monarch is hereditary, the governor is appointed by the monarch, and the premier appointed by the governor.

The unicameral House of Assembly consists of 21 seats, of which 15 are popularly elected; members serve four-year terms. Elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands were held on 24 April 2003 and again on 9 February 2007. The Progressive National Party, led by Michael Misick holds thirteen seats, and the People's Democratic Movement, led by Floyd Seymour, holds two seats.

The judicial branch of government is headed by a Supreme Court and appeals are heard by the court of appeals and final appeals by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was Gordon Ward. The islands also have a Court of Appeal with a President and at least two Justices of Appeal.

The Turks and Caicos Islands participate in the Caribbean Development Bank, is an associate in CARICOM, and maintains an Interpol sub-bureau. Defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. In December 2004, the islands sought to become a new associate member to the Association of Caribbean States article.

In 2008, after members of the British parliament conducting a routine review the administration received several reports of high level official corruption in the Turks and Caicos, Governor Richard Tauwhare announced the appointment of a Commission of Enquiry into corruption. The same year, Premier Michael Misick himself became the focus of a criminal investigation after a woman identified by news outlets as an American citizen residing in Puerto Rico accused him of sexually assaulting her although he strongly denies the charge.

People Population: 22,352 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.7% (male 3,497/female 3,374)
15-64 years: 65.2% (male 7,640/female 6,929)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 435/female 477) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 27.8 years
male: 28.5 years
female: 27 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.644% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 21.12 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 4.16 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 9.48 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 14.35 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.56 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.04 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.19 years
male: 72.91 years
female: 77.59 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.98 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: none
adjective: none
Ethnic groups: black 90%, mixed, European, or North American 10%
Religions: Baptist 40%, Anglican 18%, Methodist 16%, Church of God 12%, other 14% (1990)
Languages: English (official)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 98%
male: 99%
female: 98% (1970 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 12 years (2005)
Education expenditures: NA
People - note: destination and transit point for illegal Haitian immigrants bound for the Turks and Caicos Islands, The Bahamas, and the US
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turks and Caicos Islands
abbreviation: TCI
Dependency status: overseas territory of the UK
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Grand Turk (Cockburn Town)
geographic coordinates: 21 28 N, 71 08 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: none (overseas territory of the UK)
Independence: none (overseas territory of the UK)
National holiday: Constitution Day, 30 August (1976)
Constitution: Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution Order 2006 (effective 9 August 2006)
Legal system: based on laws of England and Wales, with a few adopted from Jamaica and The Bahamas
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Gordon WETHERELL (since 5 August 2008)
head of government: Premier Michael Eugene MISICK (chief minister since 15 August 2003, sworn in as premier on 9 August 2006); note - the office of premier was created in the 2006 constitution
cabinet: Cabinet consists of the governor, the premier, six ministers appointed by the governor from among the members of the House of Assembly, and the attorney general
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is appointed premier by the governor
Legislative branch: unicameral House of Assembly (21 seats of which 15 are popularly elected; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 9 February 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - PNP 60%, PDM 40%; seats by party - PNP 13, PDM 2
Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders: People's Democratic Movement or PDM [Floyd SEYMOUR]; Progressive National Party or PNP [Michael Eugene MISICK]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: Caricom (associate), CDB, Interpol (subbureau), UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
Flag description: blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the colonial shield centered on the outer half of the flag; the shield is yellow and contains a conch shell, lobster, and cactus
Culture

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.

Wenika Ewing was the islands' representative to the Miss Universe contest in 2005.

The island's most popular sports are fishing, sailing, soccer and rugby is growing especially amongst the island's ex-pat population

Economy Economy - overview: The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, offshore financial services, and fishing. Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported. The US is the leading source of tourists, accounting for more than three-quarters of the 175,000 visitors that arrived in 2004. Major sources of government revenue also include fees from offshore financial activities and customs receipts.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $216 million (2002 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $NA
GDP - real growth rate: 4.9% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $11,500 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force: 4,848 (1990 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: note: about 33% in government and 20% in agriculture and fishing; significant numbers in tourism, financial, and other services
Unemployment rate: 10% (1997 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budget: revenues: $47 million
expenditures: $33.6 million (1997-98 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4% (1995)
Agriculture - products: corn, beans, cassava (tapioca), citrus fruits; fish
Industries: tourism, offshore financial services
Electricity - production: 10 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 9.3 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption: 80 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - imports: 83.78 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports: $169.2 million (2000)
Exports - commodities: lobster, dried and fresh conch, conch shells
Imports: $175.6 million (2000)
Imports - commodities: food and beverages, tobacco, clothing, manufactures, construction materials
Economic aid - recipient: $4.1 million (1997)
Debt - external: $NA
Currency (code): US dollar (USD)
Currency code: USD
Exchange rates: the US dollar is used
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 5,700 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 1,700 (1999)
Telephone system: general assessment: fully digital system with international direct dialing
domestic: full range of services available; GSM wireless service available
international: country code - 1-649; the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber optic telecommunications submarine cable provides connectivity to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 7, shortwave 0 (2003)
Radios: 8,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 0 (broadcasts received from The Bahamas; 2 cable television networks) (2003)
Televisions: NA
Internet country code: .tc
Internet hosts: 2,352 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 14 (2000)
Internet users: NA
Transportation Airports: 8 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Roadways: total: 121 km
paved: 24 km
unpaved: 97 km (2003)
Merchant marine: registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Grand Turk, Providenciales
Military Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 222
female: 214 (2008 est.)
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the UK
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: have received Haitians fleeing economic and civil disorder
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe