The Turks and Caicos
The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited. The islands are located 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, just below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti.) Technically, the Turks and Caicos are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea. The capital is Grand Turk. The area is roughly 948 sq km. The islands are home to roughly 50,280 ( July 2015 est.) full time residents, and welcome more than 200,000 tourist annually.
Long before Christopher Columbus first set foot on the capital island of Grand Turk during his discovery voyage of the new world in 1492, the islands of the Turks & Caicos were inhabited by Taino and Lucayan Indians. These original settlers left a rich heritage of seafaring, salt raking and farming, which still lingers on today. Words such as “canoe”, Caribbean and “caicos” are derived from the Arawak language. Even the name of the country comes from these earliest inhabitants. Turks is a reference to the indigenous Turk’s head cactus and Caicos is from the Lucayan term “caya hico” meaning string of islands.
Today, Turks & Caicos stands on the threshold of an exciting future boasting the fastest growing economy in the Caribbean coupled with strictly controlled development to protect the islands heritage as a pristine sanctuary for both local residents and tourists to enjoy for the next thousand years.
Language – English
Currency – The US dollar is the official currency of Turks and Caicos. Most hotels, restaurants and taxi services accept traveler’s cheques, which can be cashed at local banks. Most credit cards are accepted and banks offer ATM’s as well as cash advances on credit cards.
Time Zone – Atlantic Standard Time (AST) as the year round time observed in Turks and Caicos.
Electricity – 110 volt/60 cycle, suitable for U.S. appliances.
Climate – The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees (29-32 degrees celsius) from June to October. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees (27-29 degrees celsius). Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees celsius) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees celsius). A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level.
There is an annual rainfall of 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but as you go further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.
People – Turks & Caicos Islanders are mostly descendants of Africans who were brought in to work the salt pans or the cotton plantations. The expatriate population consists of British, Canadians, Americans, French, Bahamians, people from Hispaniola and virtually everywhere in the world.
Economy – The economy of the TCI relies on the tourism industry, real estate development and the exportation of seafood. A wide variety of financial services are available, including company formation, offshore insurance, banking, trusts, limited partnerships and limited life companies. The Financial Services Commission regulates, develops and promotes the industry in major world markets.
Government – The Turks & Caicos Islands are a British Crown Colony. A Governor is appointed by the Queen and presides over an Executive Council formed by an elected local self-government. Government offices are located in Grand Turk, with branches on other Islands as needed. The legal system is based on English Common Law.
Courier Service – Daily delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices on Provo and Grand Turk. Service is also provided by DHL and UPS.
Cable Television – Satellite television service is provided throughout the islands, with most major American networks available.
Telephone Service – Local and international service is provided by Cable & Wireless and Digicel (wireless only). Telex, facsimile, internet and cellular phone services are provided. You may use your credit card or a debit PhoneCard at public phone booths.
Country code is 649. Network is through Cable and Wireless. Pay phones, calling cards, facsimile, Internet, cell phones for rent at various locations.
If you have cell service in the USA please bring your phone with you because if you have International Roaming service with a cellular carrier that has a roaming agreement in the Caribbean then your phone will be able to make and receive calls whilst in the Turks and Caicos. If you do not have roaming then you will be able to make calls using the credit card platform.
Postal Service – Post Offices are located on all inhabited islands. All mail is transported by air. There are many different issues and denominations of stamps for enthusiasts to collect. Philatelic Bureaus are located on both Provo and Grand Turk.
Driving License Requirements – Visitors from the British Commonwealth Countries, The United States of America, Canada and holders of International drivers license are permitted to drive for 30 days on their respective license.
Visitors from all other countries are required to posses a Visitors Permit, which can be obtained at the Road Safety Department, located on Good Street, Grand Turk and at the office in Butterfield Square, downtown Providenciales.
Crime – These Islands boast one of the lowest crime rates and highest crime-solved rates in the Caribbean. We cannot, however, let down the guard against opportunist-type theft. Do not leave valuables unattended. Lock doors and windows. Confrontation and violent crimes are extremely rare. Any problems should be reported immediately to the Royal Turks and Caicos Police.
Customs and Immigration – All visitors traveling to the Turks & Caicos Islands must have a valid passport.
Health Care – Health Care – There is a modern hospital system comprising two state-of-the-art medical centres, managed by InterHealth Canada; Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales and Cockburn Town Medical Centre on Grand Turk. Health services provided at the centres include: emergency care, dental, dialysis, internal medicine, surgical, orthopedic, obstetric and endoscopic procedures, physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging. Tele – medicine is also currently being introduced to improve inter island healthcare delivery.
Providenciales also has a number of private general practitioners and all of the other islands have community clinics.