The Turks & Caicos Islands lie some 575 miles southeast of Miami--about 1 1/2 hours flying time - with the Bahamas about 30 miles to the northwest and the Dominican Republic some 100 miles to the southeast. The country consists of two island groups separated by the 22 mile wide Columbus Passage. To the west are the Caicos group: West Caicos, Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos and South Caicos. To the east are the Turks group: Grand Turk and Salt Cay. The Turks & Caicos total 166 square miles of land area on eight islands and 40 small cays. The Islands' population is approximately 22,000.
The Turks & Caicos Islands' name came from the combination of two words, cays and the Turks cactus. These islands are an archipelago of 40 islands and cays and are located 30 mls southeast of the Bahamas & half way between Miami & Puerto Rico. They cover a land area of 193 sq mls. The islands are each surrounded by a continuous coral reef. The Turks & Caicos Islands are made of two groups of islands, the Turks Islands and the Caicos Islands.
The Turks include Grand Turk which is the administrative and political capital. Middle Caicos, also known as Grand Caicos is the largest island in the archipelago. It is 48 sq mls, lined with limestone cliffs along the north, and has numerous caves and beaches. North Caicos is the garden center of the islands. It is accessible by boat or plane. The resort area of Whitby lies at the northernmost tip of the island. South Caicos, once a salt producing island, has now become the heart of the fishing industry. It is also the home of the Commonwealth Regatta held every year. Providenciales, with 12 mls of beach along the northeast coast has the most tourism related development.
Pine Cay is one of the smallest islands located between North Caicos and Provo. It is privately owned and has its own exclusive resort development. East Caicos once had a flourishing sisal industry but is now the home to wild cattle. It can be reached by boat, but there are miles of beaches perfect for the adventurous beachcomber. West Caicos is uninhabited with a dramatic cliff coastline and excellent dive sites. Salt Cay is a time capsule from the days when salt was king. Little has changed on Salt Cay since 1900, when the salt industry last flourished. The buildings, the salinas, the windmills, and the artifacts essential to solar salt production are still in place. Parrot Cay: Local legend purports that female pirate Anne Bonny stayed here in the 1720's, lending the original name - Pirate Cay - to this Caicos Cay. An exclusive resort and villa hideaway, reached by boat from Provo, just opened for vacationers in January 1998.
EST October to April. DST April to October.
The Arawak Indians were the first people to inhabit the Turks & Caicos Islands, which were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and then rediscovered in 1512 by Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer. In 1678. Bermudan immigrants settled on the islands of Salt Cay, Grand Turk & South Caicos, where they established and developed a salt industry. The Bahamas tried unsuccessfully to annex the islands in 1700. During the next century, both the Turks and Caicos were invaded first by the Spanish and then by the French.
British loyalists tried to establish cotton plantations in 1780. The Bahamas gained administrative control of the islands and governed them from 1799 up to 1848 when Turks & Caicos separated from the Bahamas and were governed by their own council for over 20 years. The islands were placed under the administration of Jamaica from 1873 to 1962 when Jamaica gained her independence. Turks & Caicos remained a British Crown Colony. A Governor was appointed by the Queen of England, and elections were held to form a ministerial government and an 11 member Legislative Council to administer the island's internal affairs in 1976.
12,350. Estimated today 15,000.
The average year-round temperature is 83 degrees F (28 degrees C). The hottest months are - September and October, when the temperature can reach 90 to 95 degrees F (33 to 35 degrees C). The almost-constant easterly trade winds temper the heat and keep life comfortable.
Casual resort and leisure wear is accepted attire for daytime; light sweaters or jackets may be necessary on some breezy evenings. Visitors are advised to wear protective clothing and a sunhat and use waterproof sunscreen when out in the tropical sun.
Turks and Caicos Islands Weather