Cayman Islands

Introduction The Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British during the 18th and 19th centuries, and were administered by Jamaica after 1863. In 1959, the islands became a territory within the Federation of the West Indies, but when the Federation dissolved in 1962, the Cayman Islands chose to remain a British dependency.

The Cayman Islands were first sighted by European eyes when Christopher Columbus, on 10 May 1503, encountered them during his disastrous fourth and final voyage to the New World. He named them Las Tortugas after the numerous sea turtles there. The first recorded English visitor to the islands was Sir Francis Drake, who landed there in 1586 and named them the Cayman Islands after the Neo-Taino nations term (caiman) for crocodile (Zayas, 1914).

The first recorded permanent inhabitant of the Cayman Islands, Isaac Bodden, was born on Grand Cayman around 1700. He was the grandson of the original settler named Bodden who was probably one of Oliver Cromwell's soldiers at the taking of Jamaica in 1655.

The islands, along with nearby Jamaica, were captured, then ceded to England in 1670 under the Treaty of Madrid. They were governed as a single colony with Jamaica until 1962 when they became a separate British Overseas Territory and Jamaica became an independent Commonwealth realm.

The island of Grand Cayman was hit by Hurricane Ivan on 11-12 September 2004, which destroyed many buildings and damaged 70% of them. Power, water and communications were all disrupted in some areas for months as Ivan was the worst hurricane to hit the islands in 86 years. However, Grand Cayman promptly engaged in a major rebuilding process and within two years its infrastructure was nearly returned to pre-Ivan levels. The Cayman Islands have the dubious honour of having experienced the most hurricane strikes in history. Due to the proximity of the islands, more hurricane and tropical systems have affected the Cayman Islands than any other region in the Atlantic basin (brushed or hit every 2.23 years).[1] The Cayman Islands currently enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean region, aided by thriving tourism and banking industries.

Geography Location: Caribbean, three island (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, Little Cayman) group in Caribbean Sea, 240 km south of Cuba and 268 km northwest of Jamaica
Geographic coordinates: 19 30 N, 80 30 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 262 sq km
land: 262 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 160 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 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 (Cayman Brac) 43 m
Natural resources: fish, climate and beaches that foster tourism
Land use: arable land: 3.85%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 96.15% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
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

The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory, listed by the UN Special Committee of twenty-four as one of the last non-self governing territories. A fifteen-seat Legislative Assembly is elected by the people every four years to handle domestic affairs. Of the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), five are chosen to serve as government ministers in a cabinet headed by the governor. The head of government is the Leader of Government Business, which is currently The Honourable Kurt Tibbetts.

A Governor is appointed by the British government to represent the monarch. The governor can exercise complete executive authority if they wish through blanket powers reserved to them in the constitution. They must give royal assent to all legislation, which allows them the power to strike down any law the legislature may see fit for the country. In modern times, the governor usually allows the country to be run by the cabinet, and the civil service to be run by the Chief Secretary, who is the Acting Governor when the Governor is not able to discharge his usual duties for one reason or another. The current governor of the Cayman Islands is Stuart Jack and the current Chief Secretary is The Honourable George McCarthy, OBE, JP.

People Population: 46,600
note: most of the population lives on Grand Cayman (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.3% (male 4,746/female 4,730)
15-64 years: 71% (male 16,135/female 16,964)
65 years and over: 8.6% (male 1,892/female 2,133) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 37.5 years
male: 37.1 years
female: 37.9 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.496% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 12.6 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 4.98 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 17.34 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: major destination for Cubans trying to migrate to the US (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.003 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.951 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.887 male(s)/female
total population: 0.956 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.94 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.2 years
male: 77.57 years
female: 82.87 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.89 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 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 Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cayman Islands
Dependency status: overseas territory of the UK
Government type: British crown colony
Capital: name: George Town (on Grand Cayman)
geographic coordinates: 19 18 N, 81 23 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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 1962, 1972, and 1994
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); represented by Governor Stuart JACK (since 23 November 2005)
head of government: Leader of Government Business Kurt TIBBETTS (since 18 May 2005)
cabinet: Executive Council (three members appointed by the governor, four members elected by the Legislative Assembly)
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the governor is appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or coalition is appointed by the governor Leader of Government Business
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly (18 seats; 3 appointed members from the Executive Council and 15 elected by popular vote; to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 11 May 2005 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPM 9, UDP 5, independent 1
Judicial branch: Summary Court; Grand Court; Cayman Islands Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders: United Democratic Party or UDP [McKeeva BUSH]; People's Progressive Movement or PPM [Kurt TIBBETTS]; note - no national teams (loose groupings of political organizations) were formed for the 2000 elections
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: Caricom (associate), CDB, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, UNESCO (associate), 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 Caymanian coat of arms 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

Primary and secondary schools

The Cayman Islands Education Department operates state schools. Caymanian children are entitled to free primary and secondary education. Various churches and private foundations operate several private schools that offer American and British based studies starting in nursery to Year 13.

Colleges and universities

Grand Cayman is home to University College of the Cayman Islands, the only government run University on the island. The University College is located at 168 Olympic Way in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The International College of the Cayman Islands which is located in Newlands about seven miles (11 km) east of George Town. The college was established in 1970 and offers Associate's, Bachelor's and Post Graduate degree programmes. Grand Cayman is also home to St. Matthew's University, which includes a medical school and a school of veterinary medicine.

The Cayman Islands Law School (CILS), a branch of the University of Liverpool in the UK, is also based on Grand Cayman. Situated in George Town, the law school has been in operation since 1982. As taken from the student handbook, "The Law School provides tuition for both full and part-time programmes leading to the Bachelor of Law (Honours) Degree of the University of Liverpool and the qualification of Attorney-at-Law of the Cayman Islands, following successful completion of the postgraduate Professional Practicum Course (PPC)

The Cayman Islands Civil Service College, a unit of Cayman Islands government organized under the Portfolio of the Civil Service, is also located in Grand Cayman. Co-situated with University College of the Cayman Islands in a building on the south side of the campus, the intent of the CICSC is offer both degree programs and continuing education units of various sorts. Further, the College is planned to develop as a government research centre. It opened in Autumn 2007.

Economy Economy - overview: With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 68,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 2003, including almost 500 banks, 800 insurers, and 5,000 mutual funds. 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 2.1 million in 2003, with about half 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): $1.939 billion (2004 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $NA
GDP - real growth rate: 0.9% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $43,800 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 3.2%
services: 95.4% (1994 est.)
Labor force: 23,450 (2004)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 12.6%
services: 86% (1995)
Unemployment rate: 4.4% (2004)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.4% (2004)
Budget: revenues: $423.8 million
expenditures: $392.6 million (2004)
Agriculture - products: vegetables, fruit; livestock; turtle farming
Industries: tourism, banking, insurance and finance, construction, construction materials, furniture
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 400 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 372 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption: 2,700 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 2,698 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports: $2.52 million (2004)
Exports - commodities: turtle products, manufactured consumer goods
Exports - partners: mostly US (2006)
Imports: $866.9 million (2004)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, manufactured goods
Imports - partners: US, Netherlands Antilles, Japan (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $390,000 (2004)
Debt - external: $70 million (1996)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $NA
Market value of publicly traded shares: $130 million (2005)
Currency (code): Caymanian dollar (KYD)
Currency code: KYD
Exchange rates: Caymanian dollars per US dollar - NA (2007), 0.8496 (2006)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 38,000 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 17,000 (2002)
Telephone system: general assessment: reasonably good system
domestic: liberalization of telecom market in 2003; introduction of competition in the mobile-cellular market in 2004
international: country code - 1-345; landing point for the MAYA-1 submarine telephone cable network that provides links to the US and parts of Central and South America; submarine cable provides connectivity to Jamaica; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 0 (2004)
Radios: 36,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 4 with cable system (2004)
Televisions: 7,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .ky
Internet hosts: 4,888 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 16 (2000)
Internet users: 9,909 (2003)
Transportation Airports: 3 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Roadways: total: 785 km
paved: 785 km (2002)
Merchant marine: total: 124 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,953,923 GRT/4,597,716 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 33, cargo 11, chemical tanker 41, liquefied gas 1, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 17, refrigerated cargo 13, roll on/roll off 3, vehicle carrier 4
foreign-owned: 122 (Denmark 3, Germany 17, Greece 23, Italy 10, Japan 6, Norway 2, Singapore 10, Sweden 1, UK 9, US 41) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Cayman Brac, George Town
Military Military branches: no regular military forces; Royal Cayman Islands Police Force
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 10,703 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 8,600 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 257 (2005 est.)
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the UK
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: offshore financial center; vulnerable to drug transshipment to the US and Europe