Cayman Islands

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The Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British during the 18th and 19th centuries. Administered by Jamaica since 1863, they remained a British dependency after 1962 when the former became independent.


Caribbean, island group in Caribbean Sea, nearly one-half of the way from Cuba to Honduras

Geographic coordinates:

19 30 N, 80 30 W


total: 262 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 262 sq km


160 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical marine; warm, rainy summers (May to October) and cool, relatively dry winters (November to April)


low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: The Bluff 43 m

Natural resources:

fish, climate and beaches that foster tourism

Land use:

arable land: 3.85%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 96.15% (2001)

Natural hazards:

hurricanes (July to November)

Environment - current issues:

no natural fresh water resources; drinking water supplies must be met by rainwater catchments

Geography - note:

important location between Cuba and Central America


43,103 (July 2004 est.)

Government type:

British crown colony


George Town

Administrative divisions:

8 districts; Creek, Eastern, Midland, South Town, Spot Bay, Stake Bay, West End, Western

National holiday:

Constitution Day, first Monday in July

Legal system:

British common law and local statutes

Diplomatic representation in the US:

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Economy - overview:

With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 40,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 1998, including almost 600 banks and trust companies; banking assets exceed $500 billion. A stock exchange was opened in 1997. Tourism is also a mainstay, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is aimed at the luxury market and caters mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 1.2 million in 1997, with 600,000 from the US. About 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy one of the highest outputs per capita and one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.8% (2002)

Labor force:

19,820 (1995)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 1.4%, industry 12.6%, services 86% (1995)

Unemployment rate:

4.1% (1997)

Agriculture - products:

vegetables, fruit; livestock, turtle farming


tourism, banking, insurance and finance, construction, construction materials, furniture

Exports - commodities:

turtle products, manufactured consumer goods

Exports - partners:

mostly US

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, manufactured goods

Imports - partners:

US, Trinidad and Tobago, UK, Netherlands Antilles, Japan


Caymanian dollar (KYD)

Fiscal year:

1 April - 31 March

Telephones - main lines in use:

38,000 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

17,000 (2002)


total: 785 km
paved: 785 km (2000)

Ports and harbors:

Cayman Brac, George Town

Merchant marine:

total: 137 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 2,827,837 GRT/4,555,974 DWT
registered in other countries: 2 (2003 est.)
foreign-owned: Germany 9, Greece 25, Hong Kong 3, Italy 14, Norway 4, Singapore 1, Spain 11, Sweden 13, Switzerland 1, United Kingdom 18, United States 43
by type: bulk 27, cargo 7, chemical tanker 36, container 2, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 25, refrigerated cargo 33, roll on/roll off 4, short-sea/passenger 1, specialized tanker 1


3 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2003 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Military branches:

no regular military forces; Royal Cayman Islands Police Force

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the UK

Illicit drugs:

offshore financial center; vulnerable to drug transshipment to the US and Europe