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About the Cayman Islands

Brief History

The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. The Cayman Islands are considered to be part of the geographic Western Caribbean Zone as well as the Greater Antilles. The territory is often considered a major world offshore financial haven for many wealthier individuals.

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. While there is no archaeological evidence for an indigenous people on the islands, a variety of settlers from various backgrounds made their home on the islands, including pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, and deserters from Oliver Cromwell’s army in Jamaica.

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.

England took formal control of the Cayman Islands, along with Jamaica, as a result of the Treaty of Madrid of 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts at settlement, a permanent English-speaking population in the islands dates from the 1730s. With settlement, after the first royal land grant by the Governor of Jamaica in 1734, came the perceived need for slaves. Many were brought to the islands from Africa; this is evident today with the majority of native Caymanians being of African and English descent. The results of the first census taken in the islands in 1802 showed the population on Grand Cayman to be 933 with 545 of those inhabitants being enslaved. Slavery was abolished in the Cayman Islands in 1833. At the time of abolition, there were over 950 Blacks of African ancestry enslaved by 116 white families of English ancestry.

The islands continued to be governed as part of the Colony of Jamaica until 1962, when they became a separate Crown colony while Jamaica became an independent Commonwealth realm.

The Cayman Islands historically have been a tax-exempt destination. On 8 February 1794, the Caymanians rescued the crews of a group of ten merchant ships, including HMS Convert, an incident that has since become known as the Wreck of the Ten Sail. The ships had struck a reef and run aground during rough seas. Legend has it that King George III rewarded the island with a promise never to introduce taxes as compensation for their generosity, as one of the ships carried a member of the King’s own family. While this remains a popular legend, the story is not true.

However, whatever the history, in practice the government of the Cayman Islands has always relied on indirect and not direct taxes. The islands have never levied income tax, capital gains tax, or any wealth tax, making them a popular off-shore financial centre.

 

 

 

Location

The three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, are located in the western Caribbean about 150 miles south of Cuba, 460 miles south of Miami, Florida, and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica. George Town, the capital, is on the western shore of Grand Cayman.

Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, has an area of about 76 square miles and is approximately 22 miles long with an average width of four miles. Its most striking feature is the shallow, reef-protected lagoon, the North Sound, which has an area of about 35 square miles. The island is low-lying, with the highest point about 60 feet above sea level.

Cayman Brac lies about 89 miles northeast of Grand Cayman. It is about 12 miles long with an average width of 1.25 miles and has an area of about 15 square miles. Its terrain is the most spectacular of the three islands. The Bluff, a massive central limestone outcrop, rises steadily along the length of the island up to 140 ft. above the sea at the eastern end.

Little Cayman lies five miles west of Cayman Brac and is approximately ten miles long with an average width of just over a mile. It has an area of about 11 square miles. The island is low-lying with a few areas on the north shore rising to 40 ft. above sea level.

 

 

Weather

The temperature, summer or winter, seldom goes lower than 70°F. or higher than 90°F. The average is 78°F. in the winter and about 86°F in the summer.

The average annual humidity in 2010 was 77 percent. Rainfall varies over the Islands and seasonally. In 2010 rainfall totaled 60.3 inches. The wettest month was September with 14.9 inches recorded. The driest month was March with 0.2 of an inch recorded.

Population

Census 2010 reports are being worked on, but the population on census day was 54,397. In 2009 19% of the population was under 15 years of age, and five percent was over 65. About 49% of the work force was non-Caymanians admitted under the work permit system which controls the inflow of foreign skills and labour. The majority of work permit holders (about 75%) come from Jamaica, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States