The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory located in the western Caribbean Sea. The
territory comprises the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of
Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. The territory is a major offshore financial center in the
The Cayman Islands were found by Christopher Columbus, on 10 May 1503 on his 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 nation’s term (caiman) for alligator.
Islands National Museum
The first recorded permanent inhabitant of the
Cayman Islands, Isaac Bodden, was born on Grand Cayman around 1661. 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 by, and 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
The island of Grand Cayman, which lies largely unprotected at sea level, was hit by Hurricane
Ivan on 11- 12 September 2004, which destroyed many buildings and damaged 90% 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 forced a major rebuilding process and within two
years its infrastructure was nearly returned to pre-Ivan levels. The Cayman Islands have the
dubious honor 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). The Cayman Islands enjoy a high
global standard of living fully dependent upon tourism and banking.
The Cayman Islands are located in the western Caribbean Sea. They are the peaks of a massive
underwater ridge, known as the Cayman Trench, standing 8,000 feet (2,400 m) from the sea floor,
which barely exceeds the surface. The islands lie in the northwest of the Caribbean Sea, south of
Cuba and west of Jamaica. They are situated about 400 miles (650 km) south of Miami, 180 miles (300
km) south of Cuba, and 195 miles (315 km) northwest of Jamaica. Grand Cayman is by far the biggest,
with an area of 76 square miles (197 km²). The two "Sister Islands" of Cayman Brac and Little
Cayman are located about 80 miles (130 km) east of Grand Cayman and have areas of 14 square miles
(36 km²) and 10 square miles (25.9 km²) respectively.
All three islands were formed by large coral heads covering submerged ice age peaks of western
extensions of the Cuban Sierra Maestra range and are mostly flat. One notable exception to this is
The Bluff on Cayman Brac's eastern part, which rises to 140 feet (42.6 m) above sea level, the
highest point on the island.
Cayman avian fauna includes two endemic subspecies of Amazona parrots: Amazona leucocephala
hesterna, or Cayman Brac Parrot, native only to Cayman Brac, and Amazona leucocephala caymanensis
or Grand Cayman Parrot, which is native only to Grand Cayman. Another notable fauna is the
endangered Blue Iguana, which is native to Grand Cayman. There is also the agouti and the Booby
Birds on Cayman Brac.
The Cayman Islands have more
registered businesses than they have people. The latest population estimate of the Cayman Islands
is about 52,000 as of 2006, representing a mix of more than 100 nationalities. Out of that number,
about half are of Caymanian descent. About 60% of the population is of mixed race (mostly mixed
African-European). Of the remaining 40%, about half are of European descent and half are of African
descent. The islands are almost exclusively Christian, with large number of Presbyterians and
Catholics. Caymanians enjoy the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. The vast majority of
the population resides on Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac is the second most populated with about 1,200
residents, followed by Little Cayman with around 200 permanent residents.
The capital and major city of the Cayman Islands is George Town, which is located on the south west
coast of Grand Cayman.
With an average income of around $42,000, Caymanians enjoy the highest standard of living in the
Caribbean. According to the CIA World Fact book, the Cayman Islands GDP per capita is the 12th
highest in the world. The islands print their own currency, the Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD), which
is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a fixed rate of 1 KYD = 1.20 USD. However, as of April 17, 2009,
U.S. $20 bill is commonly exchanged at merchants for C.I. $16.
The government's primary source of income is indirect taxation - there is no income tax or capital
gains tax or corporation tax. An import duty of 5% to 20% is levied against goods imported into the
islands. Few goods are exempt; notable examples include books, cameras and infant formula. The
government charges licensing fees to financial institutions those operate in the islands as well as
work permit fees for expatriate employees ranging from around US$500 for a clerk to around
US$20,000 for a CEO.
The Flag of the Cayman Islands was adopted in 14
May 1958 after the colony was officially granted a coat-of-arms. Prior to that, the Islands
had used the British flag for all official occasions. In 1999, the white disc was removed and
the arms were more than doubled in size, although the pre-1999 flag remains popular and is
still used on some official occasions. During the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, the Cayman
Islands team marched in under the pre-1999 flag.
Common with most British overseas territories The Governor's flag is a Union Flag defaced with the
coat-of-arms. The governor's flag was also changed in 1999, the arms were made bigger and a golden
ring was added.
One of Grand Cayman's (GCM) main
attractions is the world-famous Seven Mile Beach on which a number of the island's hotels and
resorts are located. Seven Mile Beach is regarded by many as one of the best beaches in the
world. Historical sites in GCM such as Pedro St. James Castle in BoddenTown also attract
visitors. The Sister Islands - Little Cayman and Cayman Brac - also supply their own unique
The Cayman Islands is regarded as one of the
world's best scuba diving destinations because of its crystal-clear waters and pristine walls.
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are also elite SCUBA dive destinations. There are several snorkeling
locations where tourists can swim with stingrays including the popular Stingray City, Grand Cayman.
Divers find two shipwrecks off the shores of Cayman Brac particularly interesting including the MV
Other Grand Cayman tourist attractions
include the Ironshore landscape of Hell, the 23-acre (93,000 m2) marine theme park Boatswain's
Beach, also home of the Cayman Turtle Farm, the production of gourmet sea salt, and the Mastic
Trail, a hiking trail through the forests in the center of the island. The NationalTrust for the
Cayman Islands provides guided tours weekly on the Mastic Trail and other locations.
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
Governor is appointed by the British Government to represent the monarch. Governors 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 Honorable George McCarthy, OBE, and JP.
The defense of the Cayman Islands is the responsibility of the United
Kingdom. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service provides police services in the country. The
Cayman Islands Cadet Corps was formed in March 2001.
There is no direct taxation imposed on Caymanians and Cayman Islands companies. The government
receives the majority of its income from indirect taxation. A 20% duty is levied against imported
goods. Some items are exempted like baby formula, books and cameras. Duty on automobiles depends on
the class and make of the model; duty can reach up to 40% for expensive models. Financial
institutions that operate in the islands are charged a flat licensing fee by the government. A 10%
government tax is placed on all tourist accommodations in addition to the small fee each tourist
pays upon getting on the island.
In order to work in the Cayman Islands as a non-citizen, a work permit is required. This involves
passing a police background check and a health check. A prospective worker will not be granted a
permit if certain medical conditions are present. Work permits are not issued after age 60. If you
are an individual on special work a permit may be granted.
The Cayman Islands presently imposes a controversial "rollover" policy in relation to expatriate
workers who require a work permit. Non-Caymanians are only permitted to reside and work within the
Territory for a maximum of seven years (non-renewable) unless they satisfy the criteria of key
employees. The policy has been the subject of some controversy within the press. Law firms have
been particularly upset by the recruitment difficulties that it has caused. Other less well
remunerated employment sectors have been affected as well. Concerns about safety have been
expressed by diving instructors and realtors have also expressed concerns. Others support the
rollover as necessary to protect Caymanian identity in the face of large immigration of expatriate
Concerns have been expressed that in the long term, the policy may damage the pre-eminence of
the Cayman Islands as an offshore financial center by making it difficult to recruit and retain
experienced staff from onshore financial centers. Government employees are no longer exempt from
this "rollover" policy according to this report in a local newspaper. The governor has decided to
use his constitutional powers, which give him absolute control for the disposition of civil service
employees to determine which expatriate civil servants are dismissed after seven years service and
which are not.
This policy is enshrined in the Immigration Law (2003 revision), written by the UDP government,
and subsequently enforced by the PPM government. Both governments agree to the term limits on
foreign workers, and the majority of Caymanians also agree it is necessary to protect local culture
and heritage from being eroded by a large number of foreigners gaining residency and
The foreign relations of the Cayman Islands are largely managed from the United Kingdom, as the
islands remain an overseas territory of the UK. However, the Government of the Cayman Islands often
resolves important issues with foreign governments alone, without intervention from Britain.
Although in its early days, the Cayman Islands' most important relationships were with Britain and
Jamaica, in recent years, a relationship with the United States has developed.
Though the Cayman Islands are involved in no major international disputes, they have come under
some criticism due to the use of their territory for narcotics trafficking and money laundering. In
an attempt to address this, the Government entered into the Narcotics Agreement of 1984 and the
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of 1986 with the United States, in order to reduce the use of their
facilities associated with these activities. In more recent years, they have stepped up the fight
against money laundering, by limiting banking secrecy, introducing requirements for customer
identification and record keeping, and requiring banks to cooperate with foreign investigators.
Due to their status as an overseas territory of the UK, the Cayman Islands have no
representation either on the United Nations, or in most other international organizations. However,
the Cayman Islands still participates in some international organizations, being a full member of
the Central Development Bank, and an associate member of Caricom and UNESCO, and a member of a
sub-bureau of Interpol.
Soccer is the national and most popular
Rugby Union in the Cayman Islands is a developing sport, and has its own national men's team,
women's team and Sevens team.
The Cayman Islands are members of The International Cricket Council, FIFA, the International
Olympic Committee and the Pan American Sports Organization, and also compete in the biannual Island
Music in the Cayman
The Cayman Islands, a
Caribbean island chain, is a Crown Colony of the United Kingdom. Whilst there are several acts that
cater to tourists, Caymanians themselves enjoy a wide selection of international pop music and
their own folk styles. The Cayman National Cultural Foundation, established in 1984, helps to
preserve and promote Cayman folk music, including the organization of festivals such as Cayman
Islands International Storytelling Festival, the Cayman JazzFest, Seafarers Festival and Cayfest.
There is also a Pirate's Week Festival. The Cayman JazzFest, founded in 2004, is a well-known jazz
festival that draws on the islands' "deep connection" with jazz.
The official national anthem of the Cayman
Islands is "God Save the Queen". "Beloved Isle Cayman", words and music by
organist Leila Ross-Shier is the official national song.
The fiddle is a popular folk instrument. Christmas music is an important part of the Cayman folk
tradition, and it consists of serenading, or group singing of carols on Christmas Eve. Instruments
include the fiddle, accordion, mouth organ, grater and drums.
There is a Cayman Music & Entertainers Association which represent local musicians' interests,
and professional studios such as Hopscotch Studios offer recording and post-production services.
Several local popular musicians are well-known, including the band Cloudburst, Barefoot Man, Chuck
and Barrie aka Sea N' B, Heat and Nicholas Johnson.
Local artist J.G. scored a number one hit at local radio station, X107.1 with his track Summer Is
Over which was the most played song the week of Monday, December 11, 2006.
Getting Married in Cayman
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The Cayman Islands is a great choice
for a Destination Wedding. First of all, it is very easy and you can get your "full marriage
certificate" from the Cayman Islands Registrar of Marriages within 48 hours of the wedding
being performed. This is important for those couples who are concerned about whether their
marriage will be legal back home. Couples from most places in Europe, except the UK, need to
get an Apostle. Your Marriage Officer can take care of this for you. Couples from the USA and
Canada don't need an Apostle.
Cayman Islands wedding officiants perform
more than 800 Destination Weddings per year, and weddings are actively supported by the Department
of Tourism. Cayman is one of the few places in the Caribbean which cater for same-day marriages,
which means there is virtually no waiting period, and you can get married while your cruise ship is
in port, as long as you have the necessary documentation.
All visitors wishing to be married must have their passports, immigration card or ship's boarding
card, and if they have been married before, their original divorce decree or spouse's death
certificate. You will have to get a "Special Marriage License" from the Governor's Office. While
you can get this yourself, there is no real savings and it is much easier to have your wedding
officiant get it for you, because you must have a wedding officiant before you fill out the
application for the Special License anyway.
Wedding officiants in Cayman are licensed by the government. They are also called Marriage
Officers, Wedding Celebrants, or Civil Registrars of Marriage. Most Marriage Officers are pastors
or priests, and they will perform the standard religious ceremony. Wedding Celebrants and Civil
Registrars normally do a non-denominational but spiritual service.
Most will customize your ceremony for you and give you a copy of your vows.
Any wedding ceremony in the Cayman Islands will have two parts required by law. You will be asked
whether there is any reason why you may not be married, and you will be pronounced husband and
wife. Marriages between two women or two men are not legal in the Cayman Islands.
The most popular choice for weddings in the Cayman Islands is the beach. Although there are few
private beaches, your wedding celebrant will know which beaches are most crowded, and avoid them.
No wedding in the Cayman Islands can be performed behind locked doors, and you will also need two
witnesses over 18 years of age. Your Wedding Celebrant can provide witnesses if there are just the
two of you.
Many people choose to have a very simple wedding on the beach. The simplest wedding will include
the Special Marriage License, the Wedding Ceremony, the Wedding Celebrant, and you will get a
certified copy of the Marriage Certificate to take away with you. You can also choose to have
flowers, wedding cake, champagne, photography etc. all arranged by your wedding planner.
Many people say they want to plan their own wedding, and a wedding planner is not essential. Many
couples who have had a Destination Wedding will say that a wedding planner for a Destination
Wedding is money well spent, and need not be expensive. Remember this is your wedding planner's
home, and he or she will know where to get the best deals, and how to make sure your special day
goes smoothly. If for example, there is a hiccup, like someone forgot their divorce decree at home;
your wedding planner will know what to do. Besides, the whole point of a Destination wedding is for
you to relax, and let someone else handle the details.
The Cayman Islands have many experienced wedding planners; you will be in good hands.
For those of you wanting a Wedding Renewal, these ceremonies are becoming more popular. Quite a
number of people who have had a civil wedding ceremony performed at home like the idea of a Renewal
Ceremony performed at sunset on the beach. There are no government requirements for a renewal
ceremony. Your Wedding Celebrant will tailor your renewal vows to suit you, include children if you
wish, and give you a Renewal Certificate which will be a record of your ceremony.
Some companies will also do Commitment ceremonies or betrothal ceremonies for those couples who for
one reason or another might not be ready to get married yet. These are much like Renewal
ceremonies, in that there are no legal requirements, but there are "promises"
Etc. and you will get a Certificate which records the event.
Shopping in the Cayman Islands
Shopping in the Cayman Islands is very
similar to any other island in the Caribbean, but with a bit of its own unique qualities. You will
always be able to find the smaller stands that sell some trinkets and other souvenirs. Some very
popular items are t-shirts, shot glasses that say Cayman Islands, and key chains. The prices for
these items are pretty cheap, and since they are abundant and basically all the same, you should
not have to pay too much for these items. One thing that the Cayman Islands is known for is rum
cakes. You absolutely must pick up some while you are there. One of the biggest companies on the
island is Tortuga Rum Co.
Not only do they sell good rum, but they sell amazing rum cakes. You can go for a visit to the
factory, and if you like really like them you can buy enough to have shipped home. Because the rum
is locally distilled, it doesn't cost that much money either, which is very nice if you plan on
stocking up. The Cayman Islands also have a number of good jewelry shops. In the larger market
areas you will find a lot of jewelry stores, each one with good merchandise. There really isn't any
difference, as they all get the products from the same source. It just comes down to what type you
like and how much you can bargain down for.
Dive near off shore reefs or the
celebrated North Wall off Grand Cayman – a sheer drop to the bed of the ocean. Various
locations also offer wreck diving, particularly Cayman Brac, where a Russian warship was
• Submerge underwater in the Atlantis Submarine, which offers hour-long trips to view the
• Snorkel alongside the friendly southern stingray at Stingray City.
• Be amazed by Cayman Turtle Farm, the only one of its kind in the world, home to over 16,000
sea turtles, ranging in size from 170g (6oz) to 270kg (600lb). Breeding season runs from May to
October, during which time visitors can witness the turtles digging nests on the beach and
• Fish for numerous species of large fish in the deep waters around Grand Cayman. Take part in
the annual International Fishing Tournament.
• Let off steam at the Family Recreation and Motorsports Park, Breakers, a 12-hectare
(30-acre) racetrack that claims to be the best in the Caribbean, with family recreation areas and a
nature reserve. The Lakeview Raceway in George Town features stock car racing on the first Sunday
of every month.
• Enjoy the Cayman Islands' connections to nautical adventure at the Pirates Week Festival, in
October/November, where events range from music, street dances, sports events and fireworks to (the
highlight) the mock pirate invasion in George Town Harbour.
• Walk through one of the Caribbean's last remaining rainforests on the Mastic Trail, on the
North Side of the Cayman Islands, linking Frank Sound to Old Man Bay. The trail dates back to the
19th century and is surrounded by stunning scenery and local wildlife.
About Grand Cayman |Grand Cayman Accommodation| Cayman Island Attractions
Transportations and Tours-Cayman
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Cayman Island Night
Life | Cayman Island Restaurants | Grand Cayman Churches
Grand Cayman Weather | Cayman Islands Aircraft
charter | Cayman Islands Scuba Diving
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Our source: Over 70% of the information on this page was taken from
http://wikitravel.org the other information was from knowledge of the island and