INTRODUCTION

TO THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS, BRITISH WEST INDIES


TCI MAPThe beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands are situated 575 miles south of Miami and 39 miles south east of Mayaguana in the Bahamas. Covering 193 square miles of the Atlantic ocean, Turks and Caicos Islands has one of the longest coral reefs in the world which attracts divers from all over the globe.

One of the most valuable possessions of the islands are the white sandy beaches, which in total cover 230 miles and are complimented with crystal clear waters. The islands are relatively flat but depending on the island, the terrain can vary from sand dunes to lush green vegetation. There are eight major islands which are inhabited, Salt Cay, Grand Turk, South Caicos, East Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales and West Caicos.

The English speaking population of 15,000 are dispersed over the eight main islands, the native people are descendants from African slaves who were originally brought over to grow cotton on the island of Providenciales. The natives are very kind and friendly people and are also very religious. The "expat" community of British, American, French, Canadian and Scandinavian gives the islands some European influence. The people of the islands have a very relaxed attitude that helps to create a perfect environment for you to unwind.

The Tourism industry gives Turks and Caicos its main revenue. In addition to this there are plans which are in progress to make the islands a major offshore financial centre. There is a small traditional fishing industry that continues throughout Turks and Caicos. On the islands of Providenciales and Grand Turk you will find International style hotel accommodation, each one has its own unique set up and surroundings. Native dishes are served along with international cuisine, you will find this at most of the restaurants. More casual accommodation can be found on the other islands and smaller cays, this offers you maximum comfort with added serenity.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk is the capital of Turks and Caicos and the financial centre of the islands. It has the second largest population of around 3,720 people. Grand Turk is one of the main historical points of Turks and Caicos. You will find many old buildings and ruins along with The Turks and Caicos National Museum. Grand Turk's main attraction is diving, with many dive operators and schools it can cater for novice snorkellers to experienced divers. The major income for the island is dive orientated tourism. There is an outstanding protected coral reef which has clear and calm waters. There are 6 major accommodations.

Salt Cay

It has the air of a frozen moment, a place where time stands still. Salt Cay was the center of the Bermudian salt industry, the mainstay of the Turks and Caicos economy from the late 1600's until the early 1960's. When the salt industry stopped, the tools fell where they were being used. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Salt cay is a time capsule from the days "when Salt was king. "She is a community of 200 hundred souls, surviving on an arid islands with one unarmed policeman and a strong sense of family and order. The islands is largely divided into squares controlled by windmills that no longer turn and salinas holding slowly evaporating seawater.

Twelve cars wander her roads, soft beaches border much of her shore line, herons feed in the salinas and others in the marsh land to the south. The distinctively Bermudian style homes, all with dusty but neatly swept dirt yards, set a tone, and undeniable style. The residents are very friendly and are always ready with a bit of conversation. This is old Turks and Caicos, a direct line to a simpler and slower time.

French, Ambergris and Great Sand Cay

There are more than two dozen other small islands and cays scattered throughout the archipelago. These uninhabited rocks each exhibit a distinct personality. French Cay, on the southwest corner of the Caicos Bank, is widely worshiped for its superb wall diving.The mountains you see on the Ambergris Cays are the huge piles of conch shells left by the local fishermen.

Great Sand Cay, south of Salt Cay, is a desert paradise. Iguanas and curly-tailed lizards roam the prickly pear-decorated landscape. Turtles nest on its broad sand beaches. Nurse sharks gather by the thousands in the shallow lagoon during their season. On one end of the island, a great stone arch has been carved from the lime stone by the flow of the water, standing in mute testimony to the sea's power.

On some islands the Turk's Head Cactus, the national flower, grows prolifically. On others, thousands of terns nest. Most are surrounded by coral gardens in one form or another.

Some 178 species of birds are found in the Turks and Caicos and these protected, isolated islands allow them to breed and live unmolested. In many ways, these tiny islands form the sustaining, natural heart of the Turks and Caicos.

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Turks & Caicos Islands

PROVIDENCIALES

GRAND TURK

MIDDLE CAICOS

NORTH CAICOS

PINE CAY

SOUTH CAICOS

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