Turks and Caicos Islands

Flag of Turks and Caicos Islands

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The islands were part of the UK's Jamaican colony until 1962, when they assumed the status of a separate crown colony upon Jamaica's independence. The governor of The Bahamas oversaw affairs from 1965 to 1973. With Bahamian independence, the islands received a separate governor in 1973. Although independence was agreed upon for 1982, the policy was reversed and the islands remain a British overseas territory.


Caribbean, two island groups in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of The Bahamas, north of Haiti

Geographic coordinates:

21 45 N, 71 35 W


total: 430 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 430 sq km


tropical; marine; moderated by trade winds; sunny and relatively dry


low, flat limestone; extensive marshes and mangrove swamps

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Blue Hills 49 m

Natural resources:

spiny lobster, conch

Land use:

arable land: 2.33%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 97.67% (2001)

Irrigated land:

NA sq km

Natural hazards:

frequent hurricanes

Environment - current issues:

limited natural fresh water resources, private cisterns collect rainwater

Geography - note:

about 40 islands (eight inhabited)


19,956 (July 2004 est.)


noun: none
adjective: none

Ethnic groups:

black 90%, mixed, European, or North American 10%


Baptist 40%, Methodist 16%, Anglican 18%, Church of God 12%, other 14% (1990)


English (official)

People - note:

destination and transit point for illegal Haitian immigrants bound for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas, and US

Dependency status:

overseas territory of the UK


Grand Turk (Cockburn Town)

Legal system:

based on laws of England and Wales, with a few adopted from Jamaica and The Bahamas

Economy - overview:

The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, fishing, and offshore financial services. Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported. The US is the leading source of tourists, accounting for more than half of the 93,000 visitors in the late 1990s. Major sources of government revenue include fees from offshore financial activities and customs receipts. Tourism fell by 6% in 2002.

Labor force:

4,848 (1990 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

about 33% in government and 20% in agriculture and fishing; significant numbers in tourism, financial, and other services

Unemployment rate:

10% (1997 est.)

Agriculture - products:

corn, beans, cassava (tapioca), citrus fruits; fish


tourism, offshore financial services

Exports - commodities:

lobster, dried and fresh conch, conch shells

Exports - partners:


Imports - commodities:

food and beverages, tobacco, clothing, manufactures, construction materials

Imports - partners:



US dollar (USD)

Telephones - main lines in use:

5,700 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1,700 (1999)

Telephone system:

general assessment: fair cable and radiotelephone services
domestic: NA
international: country code - 1-649; 2 submarine cables; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)


total: 121 km
paved: 24 km
unpaved: 97 km (2000)

Ports and harbors:

Grand Turk, Providenciales

Merchant marine:



8 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2003 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2003 est.)

Military - note:

defence is the responsibility of the UK

Disputes - international:

have received Haitians fleeing economic collapse and civil unrest

Illicit drugs:

transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe