Formerly a popular pirate hideout and now a popular tourist attraction and offshore financial center, the islands mostly have a swampy environment with low, flat limestone and typically sunny weather, though hurricanes are a frequent problem in the territory. Originally inhabited by the Lucayans and Taino until the Spanish enslaved them and took them to Hispaniola, the majority of the population are now Afro-Caribbean.
The islands were first controlled by the Spanish, but the French took over in 1765, followed by the British in 1799. Sea salt became an important export of the territory, with labour done by African slaves, until the slave trade was prohibited in 1807 and abolished by Britain in it's colonies in 1833. Many illegal Portuguese and Spanish slave ships wrecked on the islands, and many of the slaves rescued from the wrecks were arranged to be apprenticed to island proprietors on Grand Turk Island for one year, with numerous descendants coming from those free Africans. The few that weren't were resettled in Nassau, and the captured slavers were also taken there to be turned over to the custody of the Cuban consul and taken to Cuba for prosecution.
The islands were first a separate colony from Jamaica under a council president in 1848, though were made a part of Jamaica in 1873 with the chief colonial official becoming commissioner in 1894. On July 4th, 1959, the islands were once again designated a separate colony from Jamaica, with the commissioner becoming administrator and the governor of Jamaica remaining the governor of the islands. When Jamaica became independent in August 1962, the Turks and Caicos Islands became a Crown colony, with the governor of the Bahamas taking over as the governor of the territory. Then, once the Bahamas became independent in 1973, the Turks and Caicos Islands got their own governor, and soon got their own government headed by a chief minister/premier from August 1976 onwards.
However, the territory ran into political troubles in the early 21st century, resulting in the constitution of the territory being rewritten in 2006. After Premier Michael Misick resigned in the face of corruption charges in 2009, the United Kingdom took direct control of the government, and the constitution was rewritten once again in October 2012, with the government being returned to local administration after the November 2012 elections.
Turks and Caicos Islands in media
- 1983: Doomsday: The Turks and Caicos Islands is a member of the East Caribbean Federation.
- Turks & Caicos: A political thriller set in Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- World in Conflict: A loading screen map shows that Cuban forces have invaded the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Turks and Caicos Islander Flag