TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
The Turks and
Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory
consisting of two groups of tropical islands in the West Indies, the larger
Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks
Islands, known for
tourism and as an offshore financial centre.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are situated about
970 km southeast of Miami and 80 km
south east of Mayaguana in the Bahamas,
and have a total land area of 430 km2. The islands are
geographically contiguous to the Bahamas, but are politically a
For several decades around the
turn of the 18th century the Turks and Caicos Islands 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 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 and
remained a dependency of Jamaica until 1959, when the islands were again a
separate colony, 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.
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 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.