Slightly northwest of Hispaniola and Southwest of Mayaguana lies a string of islands known as Turks and Caicos. Looking at a map, these West Indies islands appear to be a part of the Bahamas, they are not. They are their own entity. The large ones are the Caicos islands, and the smaller ones the Turk. The total land area encompasses 430 square kilometers or 170 square miles. Turk Island Passage separates these two groups. The isles form a chain that stretches from the north to the south.
The first known inhabitants of this lovely area were the Taino people who crossed over from Hispaniola and also Cuba between the years 500 to 800. They settled there and stayed, creating their own government. To this day the native people have managed to preserve its lush beauty. Grand Turk Island is the home of Cockburn Town, the capital. Politically this area is independent. The government is run by what is known there as a Chief Minister.
This areas climate is a well known drawing card. Though tropical, the temperatures hardly ever become extreme. Summer months rarely rise above 92 degrees Fahrenheit and the winter averages between 68-80. It almost never dips below 50 degrees. The highest level of rainfall occurs in the months from June through October. Warm tropical winds are a normal weather feature here.
The official language of the Turks and Caicos islands is English. The native people know and speak the English language very well. Due to the large tourism trade from the states, this is very helpful. However the close proximity to Cuba often shows in the Haitian Creole and Spanish also spoken. A Bahamian dialect is also common here, which many feel lends to the charm of the area.
Providenciales is the center of the large tourism industry here. The largest cave network in the entire Carribean lies here. They also have beautiful Turks and Caicos villas. Also the largest coral reef in the world, attracting divers from all over. Colorful plant and bird life thrive in the famous flamingo pond here. One of the largest centers for fishing for lobster and conch lies in South Caicos. Sparkling white secluded beaches are a welcome surprise to those who visit, and are plentiful. Native islanders know the importance of the beauty of this area and have expertly tucked great spas and luxury villas into the landscape without destroying it in the process.
Tourism is encouraged here. This being the biggest industry of the area. Upscale resorts and villas attract the affluent and those who have saved for a get-away. Bahamian influence being very evident in the architecture of the newer and more historical buildings. Most of these have been built on the island of Providenciale, leaving the smaller ones wild and beautiful. Several Hollywood stars have homes here.
The main entry point into the string of cays is the Providenciales International Airport. From there access to anywhere is easily gained by boat or at times small engine planes, depending on where one is going to. Grand Turk is home to a large cruise ship port, a popular stop for major cruise lines.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a charming blend of history, lush wilderness and luxurious vacation homes. The weather and welcome are warm and consistent. Whether a diving expedition, spa getaway or villa on the beach are sought after, no lack of resources are evident here.
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