Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos is an archipelago of 40 low-lying coral islands in the Atlantic Ocean, a British Overseas Territory southeast of the Bahamas. The gateway island of Providenciales, known as Provo, is home to expansive Grace Bay Beach, with luxury resorts, shops and restaurants. Scuba-diving sites include a 14-mile barrier reef on Provo’s north shore and a dramatic 2,134m underwater wall off Grand Turk island.

The Turks and Caicos Islands were inhabited for centuries by native Amerindian peoples. The first recorded European sighting of the islands occurred in 1512.  In the subsequent centuries, the islands were claimed by several European powers, with the British Empire eventually gaining control. For many years the islands were governed indirectly through Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. When the Bahamas gained independence in 1973, the islands received their own governor, and have remained a separate autonomous British Overseas Territory since.

Of Note:   Many believe that the Turks in Turks and Caicos is derived from the Turks head cacti (melocactus intortus), a small stubby cactus capped with a spiny structure resembling a Turkish Fez hat. However, this is almost certainly not where the name came from. For many centuries previous to the 1800s, Islamic corsairs preyed on vessels in the Mediterranean and off the coasts of Europe and Africa. These raiders were often referred to as ‘Turks’, and the term went on to become a synonym with pirate. Early map makers combined this with a version of the Lucayan word ‘cayo hico’, meaning string of islands. Together, they served as a warning to avoid the pirate islands.

Currency: United States Dollar

Language: English

Culture Name: Turks

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