Cayman Islands

Basic Information

Status: British Overseas Territory
Area: 260 sq km (100 sq miles)
Population: 42,000 (approx)
Capital City: George Town (Grand Cayman)
Languages: English
Religion(s): Mainly Christian
Currency: Caymanian Dollar
Major political parties: UDP, PPM.
Governor: Stuart Jack
Leader of Government Business: The Honourable Kurt Tibbetts JP

Geography

The three Cayman Islands are situated 268km (180 miles) northwest of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea and 150 miles south of Cuba. Grand Cayman, which is much larger than the others, lies 128km (80 miles) to the west of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are separated from each other by a channel 8km (5 miles) wide. Grand Cayman is approximately 22 miles long with an average width of 4 miles. About half of Grand Cayman's area is wetland. Cayman Brac is about 12 miles long with an average width of one and a quarter miles. A huge central limestone outcrop called The Bluff rises along the length of the island up to 140 feet. Little Cayman, a low-lying island, is approximately 10 miles long with an average width of little more than a mile. 94% of the population live on Grand Cayman, with around 1,822 people residing on Cayman Brac and some 115 on Little Cayman. Offshore reefs and a mangrove fringe surround most of the islands' coasts.

History

In 1503 Christopher Columbus passing by the islands noted the great abundance of giant green turtles. The Islands appeared to be uninhabited. For the next 200 years they were visited by many ships for revictualling, and small groups of pirates and shipwrecked sailors formed temporary settlements. No country attempted to colonise the islands before 1670, when Spain ceded the Cayman Islands and Jamaica to Britain by the Treaty of Madrid. After 1863 the Caymans formally became a dependency of Jamaica and the legislature of Jamaica had the final say over the locally passed laws of the islands. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were not settled until 1833, and it was not until 1887 that a formal administrative connection between them and Grand Cayman was achieved. In 1959 the islands ceased to be a dependency of Jamaica and became a unit territory within the Federation of the West Indies. When the Federation was dissolved, in 1962, the Cayman Islands, chose to remain under the British Crown, thereupon received a revised constitution, which in 1972 was modified to allow for directly responsible government. This was further modified in March 1994. A wider constitutional review, started in 2001, was put on hold early in 2004 pending elections in November.

Politics

Constitutional Status

Cayman Islands form a British Overseas Territory with a large measure of self-government. The Governor retains responsibility for the civil service, defence, external affairs and internal security. The present constitution, which came into effect in 1972, provides for a system of government headed by a Governor, a Cabinet and a Legislative Assembly. Unlike other Caribbean Overseas Territories there is no Chief Minister, but a Leader of Government Business. The Legislative Assembly comprises the Speaker, who acts as President, three official members (the Chief Secretary, the Financial Secretary and the Attorney General) and fifteen elected members. The Cabinet consists of the Governor as Chairman, three official members and five members drawn from the elected members of the Assembly. As Minister, the five elected members of the Cabinet have direct responsibility for government portfolios.

Recent Political Developments

The last elections were held on 11 May 2005. There were Forty-five candidates who ran for 15 seats in 6 districts. Kurt Tibbetts led the People's Progressive Movement (PPM) clean sweep as they took all the nine seats they competed for. McKeeva Bush's United Democratic Party (UDP) picked up an expected seat in the Sister Islands and four more in West Bay.

The only elected member not to come from the PPM and UDP was independent Moses Kirkconnell who took the second seat in the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman

Elections

The next elections are due to be held in 2009.

Government

Governor's Office:

Governor: Stuart Jack CMG

Head of Governor’s Office: Simon Tonge
Staff Officer: Kate Joad
PA: Alison Bach
Government Administration Building
Georgetown
Grand Cayman
Cayman Islands
Tel: 00 1 345 949 7900
Fax: 00 1 345 949 4131

Government Ministers:

  • Leader of Government Business and Minister for District Administration, Planning, Environment & Agriculture: The Hon Kurt Tibbetts JP
  • Minister for Health & Human Services: Hon Anthony Eden
  • Minister for Education, Human Resources, Youth, Sports & Culture, encompassing also matters related to International Financial Initiatives: Hon Alden MacLaughlin
  • Minister for Tourism, Environment, Development & Commerce: Hon Charles Clifford
  • Minister for Communications, Works & Infrastructure: Hon Arden McLean

Official Members of Legislative Assembly:

  • Financial Secretary: The Hon Kenneth Jefferson, JP
  • Attorney General: The Hon Samuel Bulgin
  • Chief Secretary: The Hon George A.M. McCarthy OBE, JP

Economy

Basic Economic Facts

GDP per head:US$ 36,271
Annual Growth:3%
Inflation:1.9%
Major Industries:Tourism, offshore finance
Major trading partners:USA, UK, CARICOM
Exchange rate:CI $1.52

International Relations

Cayman Islands' Relations with Neighbours

Cayman Islands enjoy a close relationship with the other Caribbean Overseas Territories. Cayman Islands have recently become an associate member of CARICOM.

Cayman Islands' Relations with the International Community

HMG is responsible for Cayman Island's external relations.

Cayman Islands' Relationship with the UK

Diplomatic Representation

HMG is responsible for Cayman Islands' external relations, defence and internal security. The principal point of contact is Overseas Territories Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Governor's Office (+44 207 008 2696 / otdenquiries@fco.gov.uk), Government Administration Building, Grand Cayman.

UK Representative of the Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands
Government Office
6 Arlington Street
London
SW1A 1RE
Tel: 020 7491 7772
Fax: 020 7491 7944
Email: info@cigo.co.uk

UK Development Assistance

None

Trade and Investment with the UK

UK exports to the Cayman Islands: 8.69 million (2003)

Cayman Islands exports to the UK: 3.75 million (2003)

Human Rights

Overseas Territories are expected to comply with their obligations under the international human rights instruments which have been extended to them. The following major Conventions apply in Cayman Islands:

  • European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (ICESCR)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT)
  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
  • UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

Health/ Hiv/ Aids

54 people have been diagnosed with HIV since 1985.