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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Cayman Islands
Region: North & Central America
Population: 34,763
Language(s): English
Literacy Rate: 98%

The Cayman Islands, a dependency of the United Kingdom, are located in the Caribbean Sea about 160 kilometers south of Cuba and 290 kilometers northwest of Jamaica. This British Crown Colony consists of three islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. The islands, discovered by Columbus in 1503 and taken over by the British in 1670, are a self-governing member of the Federation of the West Indies.

The literacy rate on the Cayman Islands was 98 percent in 2000. Free public education based on the United Kingdom model is available to all children beginning at age five. There are 17 government schools that include primary (K-6), middle school (7-9), and high school (10-12). There is one special education school. Additionally, there are several elementary and secondary private schools on Grand Cayman.

Government-funded postsecondary education began in 1975 when a part time community college was opened. During the next six years, three other postsecondary institutions were opened: the Trade School, the Hotel School, and the Marine School. In 1985 the administration of these institutions was centralized as the Community College of the Cayman Islands, located on Grand Cayman. In 1987, the college was established as a semi-autonomous institution granting an Associate Degree and offering continuing education and professional/vocational courses.

The International College of the Cayman Islands (ICCI), founded in 1970 and accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in Washington, DC, operates as a non-profit, privately controlled, American-style senior college. ICCI offers the following degrees: Associate of Science, Bachelor of Science, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science in management. There are approximately 30 full-time and adjunct faculty members. Guest lecturers from around the world share their expertise with the students who come from every continent to study at ICCI.

The Cayman Islands is one of 15 non-campus countries contributing to the University of the West Indies, which offers outreach and distance education programs. Some universities in the United States also offer summer and short-term courses in the Cayman Islands; these courses are usually related to tropical biology or marine study. Other private organizations offer continuing education courses and certified instruction in underwater photography, snorkeling, and scuba diving.


Bibliography

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov.

Community College of the Cayman Islands, 2001. Available from http://www.ccci.edu.ky.

Eubanks, Edna S., and James Bovell. "Cayman Islands Information." Dream Finders, 1 January 2001. Available from http://www.dreamfinders.com.

George Hicks High School. "Education in the Cayman Islands," February 2001. Available from http://www.ghhs.edu.ky.

George, Shurlaud, and Andrew F. Clark. "Tourism Education and Training Policies in Developing Countries: A Case Study of the Cayman Islands." Journal of Third World Studies 15 (Spring 1998): 205-220.

International College of the Cayman Islands, 1998. Available from http://www.cayman.com.ky.

Steen, Sarah, ed. Vacation Study Abroad: The Complete Guide to Summer and Short-Term Study. New York: Institute of International Education, 1999.

University of the West Indies, 5 March 2001. Available from http://www.uwichill.edu.


Jo Anne R. Bryant

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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Cayman Islands
Region (Map name): North & Central America
Population: 34,763
Language(s): English
Literacy rate: 98%

This series of three Caribbean Islands between Cuba and Honduras was originally sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1503 during his fourth and final voyage to the New World. Ships from the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, and France used the islands for watering and provisioning.

The Cayman Islands enjoy the press freedoms of British citizens. The Caymanian Compass is the national daily newspaper. It is published Monday through Friday by the Cayman Free Press Ltd., which lists circulation at ten thousand. The Cayman Net News publishes a weekly tabloid-style print newspaper. Its online edition is updated regularly every Tuesday and Thursday and contains unique content.

There are five FM radio stations and one AM radio station for approximately 36,000 radios. There are about 7,000 televisions in the country and four local television stations. There are 16 Internet service providers.

The islands came under British rule when Oliver Cromwell's army captured Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655, and British continued to colonize the islands via Jamaica through the nineteenth century. When Jamaica became an independent state in 1962, however, the Cayman Islands remained a British dependency. Population is estimated at forty thousand, with a literacy rate of approximately 98 percent. English is the official language, but Jamaican Patois and dialects of Spanish are also spoken. The chief of state is the British monarch, represented locally by an appointed official called the Governor and President of the Executive Council, which is the cabinet. There is a unicameral, eighteen-seat Legislative Assembly. Caymanians enjoy a high standard of living predominantly due to tourismespecially divingand offshore banking industries.

Bibliography

Cayman Islands Web site. 2002. Available from www.caymanislands.ky.

Cayman Islands Government. 2002. Retrieved February 28, 2002, Available from www.gov.ky.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).The World Fact Book 2001. 2001. Available from www.cia.gov.

Worldinformation.com, Country Profile. 2002. Available from www.worldinformation.com.

Cayman News Net. 2002. Available from www.caymannetnews.com.

Jenny B. Davis

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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands (kā´mən), British dependency (2005 est. pop. 44,300), 100 sq mi (259 sq km), comprising three low-lying islands in the West Indies. George Town, the capital and chief port, is on Grand Cayman; the other islands are Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The British monarch is the head of state, and is represented by a governor. There is an 18-seat Legislative Assembly; the government is headed by the premier. The Cayman Islands are divided into eight administrative districts.

The largely Christian, English-speaking population is about 40% mixed European and African ancestry, 20% white, and 20% black. Finance and luxury tourism are the economic mainstays of the islands, which are an international center for offshore banks, insurance companies, and mutual funds. Almost all goods are imported, primarily from the United States.

The islands were sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1503, but were colonized by the British beginning in the 1800s. Administered from Jamaica after 1863, they became a separate British crown colony when Jamaica became independent in 1962. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan brought widespread destruction to the islands.

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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Culture Name

Caymanian

Alternative Names

Crown Colony of the Cayman Islands; Caymans

Orientation

Identification. Christopher Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands on 10 May 1503 when his ships were blown off course by strong winds. He saw two small islands so full of turtles that he named them Las Tortugas, Spanish for "the turtles." It was the presence of the marine crocodile, however, that gave the islands their name, after the Carib word caymanas. The capital, George Town, was named after King George III of England.

Location and Geography. The three islands Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac lie in the Caribbean Sea about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northwest of Jamaica. Total land area is 100 square miles (264 square kilometers). The islands are outcrops of the Cayman Ridge, which extends from Cuba to Belize, and are formed primarily of limestone. Two of the deepest parts of the Caribbean, the Cayman Trough to the east and the Bartlett Trough to the south, together with the shallower Cayman Bank west of Grand Cayman lie in close proximity. Grand Cayman, the largest island, is approximately 22 miles (35 kilometers) long and 8 miles (13 kilometers) wide; its most striking feature is the North Sound, a shallow reef-protected lagoon. Cayman Brac, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Grand Cayman, is about 12 miles (19 kilometers) long and a mile (1.6 kilometers) wide; its name derives from its most striking feature, the brac (Gaelic for "bluff") that runs the length of the island and drops 140 feet (43 meters) into the sea at its highest point. The flattest and least developed of the three islands, Little Cayman, lies about 5 miles (8 kilometers) west of Cayman Brac. There are no natural freshwater resources.

Demography. The population of 40,000 (2000 estimate) is diverse, with people of European stock comprising about 25 percent of the total, those of African descent another 25 percent, and the remaining 50 percent being of mixed ancestry. The capital, George Town (estimated population 35,000), is on Grand Cayman. According to 1999 estimates, the population growth rate is 4.2 percent. Women slightly outnumber men.

Linguistic Affiliation. English is the official language. A Creole language, Bay Islands English, is thought to have developed in the Caymans during the eighteenth century, and spread to islands farther west. Creole forms are more common on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Symbolism. Turtles, pirates, and the British have all played a large part in the culture. The Department of Tourism combined the three when it chose a peg-leg "Sir Turtle" as a mascot and symbol for the country. The flag is blue, with the flag of the United Kingdom in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Caymanian coat of arms on a white disk on the outer half of the flag. The coat of arms features a pineapple (a symbol of hospitality) and a turtle above a shield with three stars, representing the islands, and a scroll with the motto "He hath founded it upon the seas." Caymanians voted on new national symbols in 1996; the national flower is the wild banana orchid, the national tree is the silver thatch palm, and the national bird is the Cayman parrot.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The islands became British following the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. During 16611671 settlers came from Jamaica; records show that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were settled before Grand Cayman, but these settlements were abandoned after attacks by pirates, who continued to use the islands as a hideout well into the eighteenth century. The first census, taken in 1803, showed 933 residents, half of whom were slaves. When slavery was abolished in 1835, most freed slaves remained on the islands. The first constitution was adopted in 1959. Jamaica administered the islands until 1962, when the Caymans opted to remain under British rule as a British Crown Colony after Jamaica became independent.

National Identity. The remoteness of the islands, and the social integration following the emancipation of slaves in 1835, resulted in a socially homogeneous society. Out of necessity, Caymanians relied on the sea. Shipbuilding and "sailorizing," the old term for seafaring, were important. They used local ingredientscoral fans for sieving flour, fish skins for scrubbing, the washwood plant for soap. The silver thatch palm was used for hats, baskets, roofs, and rope that was prized because it did not rot in saltwater and could be traded for other necessities. In the nineteenth century many of the locals left Cayman for jobs on neighboring islands and in Nicaragua, Honduras, and the southern United States; after World War II, a number of Caymanians left to work on ships, particularly oil tankers. These emigrants sent money and gifts home to relatives, continued to think of Cayman as home, and often returned after long periods abroad. There is a well-documented tradition of circular migration; the national anthem contains several references to "coming back to the island homeland" after traveling to distant cities. As late as the 1950s, the government's annual report stated that the main export was "seamen," and their remittances the mainstay of the economy. Persons of Caymanian descent, but born outside the islands, make up a significant part of the workforce today, and there is a strong feeling that the current immigration law should be changed to make it easier for these residents to obtain full Caymanian citizenship. Caymanians have resisted independence, and any hint that Britain may wish to divest itself of the islands is met with strong opposition.

Ethnic Relations. Relations between the various ethnic groups are good. There are no restrictions on applications for work permits, although current policy aims at insuring a balance among the various nationalities. The Immigration Board may restrict applications if any particular geographic category is thought to be excessive. The areas of friction do not involve ethnicity so much as who is entitled to citizenship. As of 2000, the islands had approximately ten thousand foreign workers, comprising almost a quarter of the population.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Older houses were made from wattle and daub. Some cottages are raised off the ground, with large porches and gabled roofs. The local silver thatch palm, traditionally used for roofing, was supplanted by corrugated tin. Rainwater was collected from the roof and stored in a cistern beneath the house. Houses are usually painted in pastel colors of pink, turquoise, and green. "Sand gardens" are popular, decorated with native flowering plants and shells; at Christmas, it is traditional to bring white sand from the beach and spread it around the house to resemble snow.

The rapid growth in construction on Grand Cayman, which began during the 1980s to meet demand for new homes, hotels, and condominiums, has caused concern that the human dimension to urban design is being lost and that much of the island's architecture will eventually fall victim to new development. Efforts are being made to preserve some of the traditional landmarks, such as the Old Courts Building, one of the few surviving nineteenth century structures, and the Harry Piercy House, built in 1916 and recently renovated to become the National Museum offices. The Heritage Garden in the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park on Grand Cayman has a restored Caymanian farmhouse, complete with original furnishings, cook room, cistern, outbuildings, and fences and walls built of old coral.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Seafood is predominant. The traditional national dish is turtle; conch is also popular, either served raw with lime juice and onions, or cooked as a stew, chowder, or fritters. A number of recipes show influences from other Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and Trinidad. "Jerking," a slow-smoking process using a blend of spices, and "heavy cake," a dense sweet dessert made with "breadkind" (starchy vegetables such as cassava, papaya, and yams) are two examples. "Fish rundown" is fish stewed with "breadkind." "Swankie" is lemonade. Other common local ingredients include key limes, honey, rum, and coconut. A microbrewery produces beer for local consumption. Other than fish, turtle meat, and a few local fruits and vegetables, almost all food must be imported.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. At Christmas, beef (a luxury item) is featured, along with heavy cake and non-native fruits such as apples, pears, and grapes. Drinks based on corn, sorrel, and pineapple are also traditional during the holiday season.

Basic Economy. The country has the highest per capita income in the Caribbean$23,800, according to a 1996 estimate. The economy is based largely on tourism and the islands' status as an offshore financial center. There is no business or personal income tax; legend has it that King George III of England granted this freedom from taxation, along with a permanent exemption from military service, as a reward for the islanders' heroism in saving British seamen wrecked off the coast in 1788. Major sources of government revenue include import duties, a tax of 7.510 percent on land or property transfers, a 10 percent tax on tourist accommodations, airport and cruise ship passenger departure fees, company registration fees, work permits, and business licenses. Inflation, which had been less than 3 percent for much of the 1990s, increased to over 4 percent in the first half of 2000. A stock exchange opened in January 1997. There is also a large shipping registry, with 1,080 ships registered as of 1997.

Land Tenure and Property. There are no restrictions on who may own property, although foreigners may own no more than two residences. As the government insures property titles, and all titles are registered, no title search or title insurance is needed. As of late 1999, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands owns 1,980 acres of nature reserves in perpetuity.

Commercial Activities. Tourism accounts for about 70 percent of the (GDP) and 75 percent of foreign currency earnings, with the bulk of the visitors from the United States. Tourist arrivals average about 1.2 million annually. The tourist industry is aimed at the luxury market.

The Caymans became an offshore banking center in the 1980s. More than six hundred banks are registered, with assets in excess of $500 billion, making the islands the fifth largest financial center in the world and a leader in the global eurocurrency market. Currently, at least forty of the world's top banks are represented. There are no exchange control or reporting requirements; deposits earn tax-free interest; funds can be moved in and out freely; and there is an excellent telecommunications system. The banking sector employs about a tenth of the labor force and contributes 16 percent of the GDP. Accusations of illegal activities, specifically "money laundering," have been leveled at some Cayman banks. In 1990 the Cayman Islands signed the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States, and in 1996 enacted Britain's "proceeds of criminal conduct" law. Banks may now disclose information in cases of criminal activity (excluding tax-related matters), but there is still criticism of Caymanian banking in the international financial press.

Major Industries. Construction, the third major commercial activity, expanded in the 1980s to meet tourist accommodation demand, and labor had to be imported. Indications are that the rate of new construction slowed somewhat in 2000.

Trade. Major trading partners are the United States, Great Britain, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands Antilles, and Japan. Exports include turtle products and manufactured consumer goods.

Division of Labor. The Immigration Law of 1992 gives preference in employment to those holding Caymanian status. Caymanians hold the majority of the clerical, secretarial, and lower management jobs. Foreign workers fall into two categories: temporary construction laborers hired during high-growth periods and professional and senior management staff in areas where there are no qualified locals available.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The largely affluent, well-educated resident population mixes well, without racial problems or noticeable class distinctions. Crime, which had been almost nonexistent on the islands, has increased on Grand Cayman, but remains at a low level.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Education is the primary factor in attaining high social status. It is seen as not only leading to better economic prospects, but also as enabling one to associate with people who are more cultured and conscious of upper-class values.

Political Life

Government. Formerly a dependency of Jamaica, the islands chose to remain a direct dependency of the British Crown when Jamaica achieved independence in 1962. The governor is appointed by the British Crown. An eight-member Executive Council advises the governor. Five of the council members (called ministers) are elected from the fifteen Legislative Assembly representatives. Three members are appointed by the governor: the chief secretary, who acts in the governor's absence; the financial secretary; and the attorney general. The Legislative Assembly is composed of two members from each of Cayman's six electoral districts, plus the three appointed members of the Executive Council.

There are no recognized political parties. Groups or "teams" of candidates run for office, and there is little or no difference in political ideology among them. In the November 2000 election, the National team, which had governed since 1992, was defeated in a surprise return to campaigning by independent candidates. There is universal suffrage, and the voting age is eighteen.

Leadership and Political Officials. Peter Smith was appointed governor in May 1999. There is a Cayman Islands representative to the United Kingdom. The late Jim Bodden, a legislative leader from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s and founder of the International College of the Cayman Islands, was named the first "National Hero"; his statue stands opposite the assembly building in George Town.

Social Problems and Control. The most pressing social problems result from the rapid growth due to immigration. Caymanians now make up less than 50 percent of the workforce and are a bare majority of the population, as indicated by the 1999 census results. The country is a melting pot of nations and cultures (more than one hundred countries are represented); there is ongoing debate over who should be granted "Caymanian status" and allowed to live and work permanently in the Cayman Islands. Currently, foreigners must apply for a work permit that is valid for one year, which may be renewed.

Dependence upon tourism and finance puts Caymanians at the mercy of forces beyond their control. The islands' high standard of living, which is reflected in higher costs, may be contributing to a decline in tourism, as vacationers seek cheaper destinations. Cayman financial institutions have come under repeated scrutiny, criticism, and threats of tighter outside controls. The islands' economic welfare depends on these two sectors, so any decline in revenues would bring significant hardship.

Military Activity. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Force, first established in 1907, now has 266 officers.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The Progress with Dignity team, which took control of the Legislative Assembly in 1984, emphasized greater government control of spending and development, and a social welfare approach to economic growth.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Concern about preserving Caymanian culture resulted in the establishment of the National Cultural Foundation, the National Museum, the National Trust, and the National Archive in the 1980s. An important part of the National Archive is the Memory Bank, an oral history program intended to preserve social history and culture via taped interviews with longtime residents.

There is an active Chamber of Commerce with members on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, and a number of business organizations, primarily in the tourism and financial services areas.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Traditional society was matriarchal; Caymanian women took over in family, business, and government when the men went to sea. Starting in the 1930s, there was a growing feeling that women's roles and expectations had to change if the society was to progress. Women began to play more active roles in social and economic life. With the birth of trade unionism, women became important in the economic sphere, although the male-dominated society did not accept women as political equals.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. After World War II, universal adult suffrage resulted in women being grudgingly accepted as partners in the political process. Today, in the major businesses and social services, women play important roles; in the political arena, however, women are still under represented, making up just 26 percent of the candidates in the November 2000 election.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Only monogamy is permitted. Homosexual acts are illegal, which has caused friction between the local Cayman authorities (especially the religious leaders) and Great Britain, which is pressing for liberalization throughout its territories. The pattern of circular migration meant that many men lived apart from their families for long periods, continuing to support them financially from abroad.

Domestic Unit. Households range from single persons (now most commonly expatriate workers) to single-parent families, traditional nuclear families, and extended family units with women usually predominating, both in numbers and in amount of control exercised within the family.

Inheritance. Property is inherited by descendants of the original owner; land is generally divided among the children.

Kin Groups. Family networks extend not only throughout the country but also overseas. Maintaining ties with relatives at home gives emigrants the possibility of a base should they decide to return. For those remaining on the islands, the relationships traditionally provided financial support, knowledge of distant events and cultures, and a place of temporary shelter should they also decide to emigrate.

Socialization

Infant Care. Child care is seen as the responsibility of the mother. During much of the islands' history, when men were obliged to be absent for long periods at sea, women stayed behind and received assistance from relatives.

Child Rearing and Education. Parents are expected to control their children's behavior. A high value is placed on education, which is free and compulsory to age sixteen; the literacy rate is 98 percent. At least one parent has been expected to be available to help students with homework, but recently there has been a marked increase in both parents working, or single parents working multiple jobs, and in complaints that parents are "losing control" of their children. Schools follow the British educational system; the government operates ten primary, one special education, and three high schools.

Higher Education. Institutions of higher education are the Community College of the Cayman Islands, the International College of the Cayman Islands, and the Cayman Islands Law School.

Etiquette

There is a strong emphasis on politeness and modesty, partly due to the history of Cayman as a matriarchal society and partly due to the strong British influence. Handshaking is the usual greeting. A person may be introduced by his or her first name (such as "Mr. Tom" or "Miss Lucy"), because of the large number of people with similar surnames (such as Ebanks or Bodden). Unlike many tourist destinations, there is no "beach-hawking" culture; topless bathing is illegal, and wearing swimsuits off the beach is frowned on, although casual dress is acceptable. Homosexuality is illegal, and recent British government efforts to encourage liberalization in this area have been strongly opposed.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. The most important denomination is the United Church (Presbyterian and Congregational). Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, and other Protestant denominations are also present. Sunday is a day of churchgoing, and visitors are welcome in most churches.

Religious Practitioners. Although women comprise the majority of the congregations, there has been resistance to allowing women to serve in positions of authority in the churches, and the majority of church leaders are male.

Rituals and Holy Places. No information is currently available on rituals and holy places in the Cayman Islands.

Death and the Afterlife. Family graveyards, where several generations were buried, have been supplanted by public cemeteries.

Medicine and Health Care

Health-care coverage is mandatory. Health facilities include a state-of-the-art hospital, opened on Grand Cayman in May 2000; a government health-care complex; and a medical clinic. Life expectancy for males is seventy-six years, for females, eighty-one years; the infant mortality rate, based on a 2000 estimate, is ten deaths per one thousand live births.

Secular Celebrations

Public holidays include: New Year's Day, 1 January; the Easter season holidays of Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday; Discovery Day, the third Monday in May; the Queen's official birthday, a Monday in mid-June; Constitution Day, the first Monday in July; the Monday after Remembrance Sunday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December; and Boxing Day, 26 December.

The national festival, Pirates' Week, is the last week of October, and is celebrated with parades, regattas, fishing tournaments, and special events. The costume carnival of Batabano takes place on Grand Cayman during the last week of April or beginning of May; Cayman Brac has a similar celebration, called Brachanal, held a week after Batabano. Cayfest is the national arts festival, usually held during April, and features exhibitions, displays, dance, and drama.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Support for the arts comes from the government, private enterprise, community-based organizations, and individuals. The primary organization is the Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF). Its projects have included hosting the Carib Art Exhibition and supporting Cayman's participation in CARIFESTA, the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts.

Literature. Perhaps the best-known novel about Cayman life, Richard Matthiessen's Far Tortuga (1975) focuses on the life of a turtle boat captain and the relationship between man and nature in a changing society.

Graphic Arts. The most famous artist is Gladwyn Bush, known as "Miss Lassie," a fourth-generation Caymanian who began painting at the age of sixty-nine and has had exhibits in many countries. Her works, which she calls "markings," are painted not only on canvas but also on the walls, windows, and furnishings of her home, which is a local landmark on Grand Cayman. Other contemporary artists include Bendel Hydes and Kamal Singh Matthews. Local artists also work with such materials as coral, wood, limestone, and caymanite (multicolored limestone).

Performance Arts. The F.J. Harquail Theatre on Grand Cayman is the main venue for local and visiting companies. The CNCF provides training in the art of creating and staging plays through annual writing workshops, and stages performances of plays by local writers. Workshops are given in dance, drama, choral singing, and storytelling. "Gimistory," the Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival, was established in November 1999 and is expected to become an annual cultural event.

Bibliography

Amit-Talai, Vered. "In Precarious Motion: From Territorial to Transnational Cultures." Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 34 (3): 319332, 1997.

Babiuk, Dale. "Canucks in the Caymans." CA Magazine 132 (2): 20-25, 1999.

George, Shurland, and Andrew F. Clark. "Tourism Educational and Training Policies in Developing Countries: A Case Study of the Cayman Islands (Caribbean)." Journal of Third World Studies 15 (1): 205220, 1998.

Graham, William Ross. "Bay Islands English: Linguistic Contact and Convergence in the Western Caribbean." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Florida, 1997.

Maingot, Anthony P. The United States and the Caribbean, 1994.

McLaughlin, Heather R. Cayman Yesterdays: An Album of Childhood Memories, 1991.

. "The Cayman Islands Memory Bank: Collecting and Preserving Oral History in Small Island Societies." Paper presented at the 65th IFLA Council and General Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, August 1999.

Meditz, Sandra W., and Dennis M. Hanratty. Islands of the Commonwealth Caribbean: A Regional Study, 1989.

Williams, Neville. A History of the Cayman Islands, 1970.

Web Sites

Island Connoisseur. Destinations: Cayman Islands. Electronic document. Available from http://www.caribbeansupersite.com/cayman

U.S. State Department. Background Notes: Cayman Islands, May 1996. Electronic document. Available from http://dosfanlib.uic.edu/ERC/bgnotes/wha/caymans9605.html

Susan W. Peters

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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands British dependency in the West Indies, comprising Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac, c.325km (200mi) nw of Jamaica, in the Caribbean Sea. The capital is Georgetown. The islands were discovered by Columbus in 1503, and ceded to Britain in the 17th century. The islanders voted against independence in 1962. Industries: tourism, international finance, turtle and shark fishing, timber, coconuts, oil trans-shipment. Area: 259sq km (100sq mi). Pop. (2002 est.) 44,800. See West Indies map

http://www.gov.ky; http://www.caymanislands.ky

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CAYMAN ISLANDS

CAYMAN ISLANDS. A British Caribbean dependency, consisting of the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. Languages: English (official), Creole, and Spanish. Visited by Columbus in 1503 but never settled by Spain; ceded to Britain in 1670. Colonized from Jamaica, and chose to remain a dependency when Jamaica became independent in 1962. See CARIBBEAN ENGLISH.

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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

PROFILE
HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS
ECONOMY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
POLITICAL COALITIONS
U.S.-CAYMANIAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the June 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Cayman Islands

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 259 sq. km. (100 sq. mi.) on three islands: Grand Cayman (76 sq. mi.), Cayman Brac (14 sq. mi.), and Little Cayman (10 sq. mi.). Capital: George Town (pop. 20,626.

Terrain: Low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Caymanian(s).

Population: (2007 est.) 46,600.

Annual growth rate: (2007 est.) 2.496%.

Ethnic groups: Afro-European 40%, African 20%, European 20%, other 20%.

Religious affiliations: United Church, Anglican, other Protestant, Roman Catholic.

Languages: English.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 16. Literacy (age 15 and over)—98%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—7.8/ 1,000. Life expectancy—males 77.45 years; females 82.74 years.

Work force: 23,450.

Government

Type: British Overseas Territory.

Constitution: 1972; called the Cayman Islands Order.

Government branches: Executive—Governor and Governor-in-Cabinet (representing British monarch), Cabinet. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly (15 elected, three appointed members). Judicial—Summary Court, Grand Court, Cayman Islands Court of Appeal, Her Majesty's Privy Council.

Political subdivisions: Eight districts.

Political parties: People's Progressive Movement, United Democratic Party.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2004 est., purchasing power parity) $1.939 billion.

Growth rate: 0.9%.

Per capita income: (2004 est., purchasing power parity) $43,800.

Natural resources: Scenic beaches and underwater attractions, favorable climate.

Agriculture: Products—Minor production of vegetables and livestock, turtle farming, aquaculture.

Industry: Types—tourism, banking, insurance, mutual funds, finance, and construction.

Trade: Exports (2004)—$1.2 million: turtle products, manufactured consumer goods. Major market—United States. Imports (2004)—$722.4 million: machinery, manufactures, food, fuels, chemicals. Major suppliers—U.S., Jamaica, U.K., Netherlands Antilles, Japan.

Exchange rate: (Nov. 2003) CI $0.82=U.S. $1.

HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. A variety of people settled on the islands, including pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, deserters from Oliver Cromwell's army in Jamaica, and slaves. The majority of Caymanians are of African and British descent, with considerable interracial mixing.

Great Britain took formal control of the Cayman Islands, along with Jamaica, under the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts, permanent settlement of the islands began in the 1730s. The Cayman Islands historically have been popular as a tax-exempt destination. Legend has it that Caymanians in 1788 rescued the crews of a Jamaican merchant ship convoy which had struck a reef at Gun Bay

and that the Caymanians were rewarded with King George III's promise to never again impose any tax. The Cayman Islands, initially administered as a dependency of Jamaica, became an independent colony in 1959; they now are a self-governing British Overseas Territory.

ECONOMY

Although Caymanians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, about 90% of the islands’ food and consumer goods must be imported.

From the earliest settlement of the Cayman Islands, economic activity was hindered by isolation and a limited natural resource base. The harvesting of sea turtles to resupply passing sailing ships was the first major economic activity on the islands, but local stocks were depleted by the 1790s. Agriculture, while sufficient to support the small early settler population, has always been limited by the scarcity of available land.

The advent of modern transportation and telecommunications in the 1950s led to the emergence of what are now considered the Cayman Islands “twin pillars” of economic development: international finance and tourism. In 2004, there were more than 70,000 companies registered in the Cayman Islands, including 446 banks and trust companies. Forty of the world's largest banks are present in the Cayman Islands.

It is estimated that financial services represent 40% and tourism between 30-40% of gross domestic product. Unspoiled beaches, duty-free shopping, scuba diving, and deep-sea fishing draw almost a million visitors to the islands each year.

Education is compulsory to the age of 16 and is free to all Caymanian children. Schools follow the British educational system. The Government operates 10 primary, one special education, and two high schools. In addition, there is a university and a law school.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Cayman Islands’ physical isolation under early British colonial rule allowed the development of an indigenous set of administrative and legal traditions which were codified into a Constitution in 1959. Although still a British Overseas Territory, the islands today are self-governed in nearly all respects. The Constitution, or Cayman Islands Order, that now governs the islands came into effect in 1972 and was amended in 1984.

The Cayman Islands’ political system is very stable, bolstered by a tradition of restrained civil governance, sustained economic prosperity, and its relative isolation from foreign policy concerns by virtue of its colonial relationship with the United Kingdom. Public discussion revolves around public sector expenditure and social services, the pace of additional economic development, and the status of the large foreign national community on the islands.

Government Structure

The Cayman Islands form a British Overseas Territory with a large measure of self-government. The present constitution, which came into effect in 1972, provides for a system of government headed by a Governor, a Legislative Assembly, and a Cabinet, which administers the islands. The Governor is recruited from the U.K. Government Service, serves as the British government administrator, and retains responsibility for the civil service, defense, external affairs, and internal security.

The Governor also chairs the Cabinet and appoints to the Cabinet the Chief Secretary, the Attorney General, and the Financial Secretary, while the Legislative Assembly elects the Cabi-net's other five members. Unlike other Caribbean Overseas Territories there is no Chief Minister but a Leader of Government Business. The Leader of Government Business is an elected politician, while the Chief Secretary is the most senior civil servant. Currently, the Leader of Government Business is also the Minister for District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing.

Responsibility for defense and external affairs resides with the United Kingdom; however, the Chief Secretary has responsibility for the Portfolio of Internal and External affairs, and the Cayman Government may negotiate certain bilateral matters directly with foreign governments. The elected members of the Cabinet divide the remaining administrative portfolios.

The 18-seat unicameral Legislative Assembly is presided over by an independent speaker. Elections are held at the discretion of the Governor at least every 4 years. Members of the Assembly may introduce bills, which, if passed, are then approved, returned, or disallowed by the Governor. The U.K. Government also reserves the right to disallow bills approved by the Governor.

The four-tiered judicial system is based on English common law and colonial and local statutes. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal is the highest court on the islands, but Her Majesty's Privy Council sitting in London may hear a final appeal.

POLITICAL COALITIONS

Since 2000, there have been two official political parties: The United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People's Progressive Movement (PPM). While there has been a shift to political parties, many contending for an office still run as independents. In May 2005 elections, the People's Progressive Movement won, receiving nine of the 15 seats.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II

Governor: Stuart Jack, since November 2005

Leader of Government Business: The Honorable Kurt Tibbetts, since May 2005

The Cayman Islands are represented in the United States by the United Kingdom Embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC 20008; tel: 202-462-1340; fax: 202-898-4255.

U.S.-CAYMANIAN RELATIONS

Although the United Kingdom is responsible for the Cayman Islands’ defense and external affairs, important bilateral issues are often resolved by negotiations between the Cayman Government and foreign governments, including the United States. Despite close historic and political links to the U.K. and Jamaica, geography and the rise of tourism and international finance in the Cayman Islands’ economy has made the United States its most important foreign economic partner. Following a dip in tourists from the United States after September 11, 2001, over 200,000 U.S. citizens traveled by air to the Cayman Islands in 2004; some 4,761 Americans were resident there as of 2005.

For U.S. and other foreign investors and businesses, the Cayman Islands’ main appeal as a financial center is the absence of all major direct taxes, free capital movement, a minimum of government regulations, and a well-developed financial infrastructure.

With the rise in international narcotics trafficking, the Cayman Government entered into the Narcotics Agreement of 1984 and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of 1986 with the United States in order to reduce the use of its facilities for money laundering operations. In June 2000, The Cayman Islands was listed by multilateral organizations as a tax haven and a non-cooperative territory in fighting money laundering. The country's swift response in enacting laws limiting banking secrecy, introducing requirements for customer identification and record keeping, and for banks to cooperate with foreign investigators led to its removal from the list of non-cooperative territories in June 2001.

U.S. Representation

The United States does not maintain diplomatic offices in the Cayman Islands. Diplomatic relations are conducted through the U.S. Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Washington, DC. The Cayman Islands are, however, part of the consular district administered by the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. Inquiries regarding visas to the U.S. or other consular matters should be directed to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy, 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, Jamaica; tel: (876) 702-6000; fax: (876) 702-6001. There also is a U.S. consular agent in the Cayman Islands to assist in providing services for American citizens. Address: Unit 222, Mirco Center, North Sound Road, Georgetown, Grand Cayman; tel: (345) 945-8173; fax: (345) 945-8192. For after-hours emergencies call the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, tel: (876) 702-6000. The Consular Agency in Georgetown is open to the public: M-W-F 0730 to 1100 and T-Th 1200 to 1530. The office is closed on U.S. and Caymanian public holidays.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

KINGSTON (E) 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, 876-702-6000, Fax 876-702-6001, Workweek: M-F; 07:15 to 16:00; most offices allow flex time; all offices staffed core hours, some staff take Friday afternoons off, working longer on other days., Website: http://kingston.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Shelia Lockett
AMB OMS:Tiffany Thompson
CG OMS:Felisha Skipper
FCS:Office Closed
FM:Carroll Webb
HRO:Maryanne Masterson
MGT:Eric A. Flohr
POL ECO:Lloyd W. Moss
AMB:Brenda La Grange Johnson
CG:Edward Wehrli
DCM:James T. Heg
PAO:Patricia Attkisson
GSO:Alfred Braswell
RSO:Arthur Balek
AGR:Jamie Rothschild
APHIS:AlEST:er Simmons
CLO:Lucy Ramel
DAO:CDR Randall Ramel
DEA:Kelvin Jamison
EEO:Tiffany Thompson
FAA:Allan B. Hurr
FMO:Sarah SPO:dek
ICASS:Chair Vacant


IMO:
Howard Sparks
ISO:Douglas Culver
ISSO:Vacant
MLO:Ltc. Erik Valentzas
NAS:Andrea Lewis
State ICASS:Eric A. Flohr

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 3, 2007

Country Description: The Cayman Islands are a British dependent territory consisting of three main islands with a total area of approximately 100 square miles and located about 500 miles west of Jamaica. There is an international airport located in Grand Cayman, and facilities for tourists are widely available. The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands.

Entry Requirements: All Americans traveling to from the Cayman Islands by air must have a passport. This requirement will be extended to sea travel, including ferry service, by the summer of 2008. Until then, travelers returning from the Cayman Islands by sea must have government-issued photo identification and a document showing their U.S. citizenship (for example, a birth certificate or certificate of nationalization). Further information on upcoming changes to U.S. passport policy can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at http://travel.state.gov. We strongly encourage all American citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport well in advance of anticipated travel.

Safety and Security: The Cayman Islands are considered politically stable and enjoy a high standard of living. There have been no reported incidences of terrorism or threats made against Americans or American interests in the Cayman Islands.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affair's Internet site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: The crime threat in Cayman Islands is generally considered low although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. Petty theft, pick pocketing and purse snatchings occur. A few cases involving sexual assault have been reported to the Embassy. Police in the Cayman Islands have alluded to increased availability of drugs and several persons have been arrested for possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy, among other drugs. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: The quality of medical care is generally comparable to that available in the United States. However, some procedures and cases requiring critical care require medical evacuation to the United States. Several American citizens have drowned or suffered cardiac arrest while snorkeling or SCUBA diving in the Cayman Islands. These deaths may be attributed in part to tourists attempting to do more than they are trained to do or may be due to poor physical conditioning or pre-existing medical conditions that are exacerbated when snorkeling or diving. A hyperbaric chamber is available for treatment of decompression illness. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for health ser-vices.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Cayman Islands is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Due to their size, the Caymans have little highway infrastructure to maintain. Local driving standards, the risk of accidents, the availability of emergency roadside service, quality and frequency of signage, and enforcement of traffic laws, generally meet the standards of the United States. Visitors must obtain a temporary driver's license, easily granted upon presentation of a valid state driver's license and payment of a small fee, at a car rental agency or a police station. Laws against driving while intoxicated are strictly enforced, with a legal maximum blood alcohol level set at 100 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood. Seatbelt laws are also enforced and require the driver and all passengers to be fastened in while in motion. Drivers and pedestrians should remember that driving in The Cayman Islands is on the left-hand side of the road.

Visit the web site of the country's national tourist office at www.caymanislands.ky.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Cayman Islands’ Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Cayman Islands’ air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Cayman Islands customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Cayman Islands of items such as firearms of any kind, spear guns (or pole spears or Hawaiian slings), live plants and plant cuttings. Raw fruits and vegetables are also restricted. Visitors from the United States should be aware that products made from farmed green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm Ltd. are offered for local consumption. The importation of genuine sea turtle products is strictly prohibited by the United States, as well as other countries that have signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In addition, U.S. Customs prohibits the transshipment of turtle products through the United States and any products discovered will be confiscated. It is advisable to contact the Collector of Customs (345) 949-2473 for specific information regarding customs requirements.

The Cayman Islands, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in the event of an emergency or disaster. General information is available on the subject via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the Cayman Islands laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Cayman Islands are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in the Cayman Islands are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Cayman Islands. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Consular Agency in George Town, Grand Cayman or the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consular Agency to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Consular Agency in the Cayman Islands is located at 222 Mirco Center, North Sound Road, Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Its phone number is (345) 945-8173. Office hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 08:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. American citizens requiring assistance in Cayman may also contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica at (876) 702-6000. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6. Office hours are Monday through Friday (except Jamaican and U.S. holidays), 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with window services 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Both the Consular Agency and Embassy may provide updated information on travel and security within the Cayman Islands. The Embassy web site is http://kingston.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

February 2007

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica has issued only one immigrant visa to Caymanian orphans during the past five fiscal years.

Adoption Authority:
Department of Children and Family Services
Ground Floor, Brit Cay Building
George Town
P.O. Box 10653
Grand Cayman KY1-1006
Cayman Islands
Tel. 345-949-0290
Fax. 345-949-4167

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single, childless or already parenting other children. The requirements outlined in the Cayman Adoption Law state a person must be 25 years of age but not over 65. If married, the prospective adoptive parents must have been married and living together for no less than three years. If a person is married but separated, he or she will need the written consent of his or her spouse in order to make an application. The Cayman Islands Adoption Law allows non-Caymanians who are domiciled in the Cayman Islands to file applications to adopt.

Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents must be resident of the Cayman Islands or be Caymanian nationals.

Time Frame: The Cayman Islands adoption procedures generally take between fourteen months and two years to complete.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.

Adoption Fees: There is a fee of CI$75 for processing an application for adoption within the Cayman Islands.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents should contact the Adoption Coordinator, who works within the Department of Children and Family Services, to arrange for an initial interview. The adoption process will be explained and if everything is in order, prospective adoptive parents will be given the application packet to take away and complete. When all of the required documents are completed, prospective adoptive parents should contact the Adoption Coordinator and arrange for a second interview. If everything is in place, the Coordinator files the application with the Adoption Board. The Adoption Board will arrange for a home study (assessment) to be carried out by a qualified social worker in the Cayman Islands. During this process, prospective adoptive parents will work with the social worker to consider all aspects of adoptive parenthood and identify the type of child the prospective adoptive family would like to adopt. When the assessment is completed, the social worker will produce a report for the Adoption Board; this report enables the Board to determine whether or not a person should be approved as a prospective adopter.

As soon as the Board gives its approval, the focus is then placed on identifying a child who best fits the profile for placement with the prospective adoptive family. After the child is placed with the prospective adoptive parents, there is a statutory period of three months during which time the family will be visited by a social worker. The social worker will visit several times to ensure that the child is well cared for and that bonding is taking place. At the end of the supervision period, the social worker will write a report for the Grand Court to support the application for the Adoption Order. When the Grand Court supervision report is completed, the application for an Adoption Order will be prepared and the case filed with the Court. The Clerk of the Court will issue a date for the hearing and summonses will be served to the prospective adoptive parents and all other interested parties to attend Court on that date. Apart from the prospective adoptive parents and the child to be adopted, the child's birth parents (if known) or previous guardian, are required to attend. The Adoption Coordinator and the Chairman of the Adoption Board also attend the hearing. When the Adoption Order is granted, the adoption is complete. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Required Documents:

  1. Medical report of the adoptive parent(s)
  2. Police reports for the adoptive parents
  3. A letter from employer
  4. Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  5. Divorce decree (if applicable)

The Cayman Islands are represented in the United States by the Embassy of the United Kingdom:

United Kingdom Embassy
3100 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington DC 20008
Telephone: 202-462-1340
Fax: 202-898-4255.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publicationM-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy
142 Old Hope Rd.
Kingston 6
Jamaica, West Indies
Phone: 876-702-6000
Fax: 876-702-6018

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in the Cayman Islands may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. General questions regarding inter-country adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Cayman Islands

CAYMAN ISLANDS

Compiled from the January 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Cayman Islands


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

259 sq. km. (100 sq. mi.) on three islands: Grand Cayman (76 sq. mi.), Cayman Brac (14 sq. mi.), and Little Cayman (10 sq. mi.).

Capital:

George Town (pop. 15,000).

Terrain:

Flat.

Climate:

Tropical.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Caymanian(s).

Population (2004 est.):

43,103

Annual growth rate:

2.71%.

Ethnic groups:

Afro-European 40%, African 20%, European 20%, other 20%.

Religious Affiliations:

United Church, Anglican, other Protestant, Roman Catholic.

Language:

English.

Education:

Years compulsory—to age 16. Literacy (age 15 and over)—98%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate—8.41/1,000. Life expectancy—79.8 yrs.

Work force:

20,000.

Government

Type:

British Overseas Territory.

Constitution:

1972; called the Cayman Islands Order.

Branches:

Executive—Governor and President of the Executive Council (representing British monarch), Executive Council. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly (15 elected, three appointed members). Judicial—Summary Court, Grand Court, Cayman Islands Court of Appeal, Her Majesty's Privy Council.

Subdivisions:

Eight districts.

Political parties:

No formal political parties.

Suffrage:

Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP (2002 est., purchasing power parity)

$1.27 billion.

Growth rate:

1.74%.

Per capita income (2002 est., purchasing power parity):

$35,000.

Natural resources:

Scenic beaches and underwater attractions, favorable climate.

Agriculture:

Products—Minor production of vegetables and livestock, turtle farming.

Industry:

Types—tourism, banking, insurance and finance, construction.

Trade:

Exports (1999)—$1.2 million: turtle products, manufactured consumer goods. Major market—United States. Imports (1999)—$457.4 million: machinery, manufactures, food, fuels, chemicals. Major suppliers—U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, U.K., Netherlands Antilles, Japan.

Official exchange rate (Nov. 2003):

CI $0.82=U.S.$1.


HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. A variety of people settled on the islands, including pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, deserters from Oliver Cromwell's army in Jamaica, and slaves. The majority of Caymanians are of African and British descent, with considerable interracial mixing.

Great Britain took formal control of the Caymans, along with Jamaica, under the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts, permanent settlement of the islands began in the 1730s. The Cayman Islands historically have been popular as a tax haven. Legend has it that Caymanians in 1788 rescued the crews of a Jamaican merchant ship convoy which had struck a reef at Gun Bay and that the Caymanians were rewarded with King George III's promise to never again impose any tax.

The Cayman Islands, initially administered as a dependency of Jamaica, became an independent colony in 1959; they now are a self-governing British Overseas Territory.


ECONOMY

Although Caymanians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, about 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported.

From the earliest settlement of the Cayman Islands, economic activity was hindered by isolation and a limited natural resource base. The harvesting of sea turtles to resupply passing sailing ships was the first major economic activity on the islands, but local stocks were depleted by the 1790s. Agriculture, while sufficient to support the small early settler population, has always been limited by the scarcity of available land.

The advent of modern transportation and telecommunications in the 1950s led to the emergence of what are now considered the Cayman Islands' "twin pillars" of economic development: international finance and tourism. In 2002, there were more than 40,000 companies registered in the Cayman Islands, including 600 banks and trust companies. Forty-three of the world's largest banks are present in the Cayman Islands.

Tourism represents about 70% of gross domestic product and 75% of total export earnings. Unspoiled beaches, duty-free shopping, scuba diving, and deep-sea fishing draw almost a million visitors to the islands each year.

Education is compulsory to the age of 16 and is free to all Caymanian children. Schools follow the British educational system. Ten primary, one special education, and three high schools are operated by the government. In addition, there is a technical school, a law school, and a community college.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Cayman Islands' physical isolation under early British colonial rule allowed the development of an indigenous set of administrative and legal traditions which were codified into a Constitution in 1959. Although still a British Crown Colony, the islands today are self-governed in nearly all respects. The Constitution, or Cayman Islands Order, that now governs the islands came into effect in 1972 and was amended in 1984.

The Cayman Islands' political system is very stable, bolstered by a tradition of restrained civil governance, sustained economic prosperity, and its relative isolation from foreign policy concerns by virtue of its colonial relationship with the United Kingdom. Public discussion revolves around public sector expenditure and social services, the pace of additional economic development, and the status of the large foreign national community on the islands.

Government Structure

Cayman Islands form a British Overseas Territory with a large measure of self-government. The present constitution, which came into effect in 1972, provides for a system of government headed by a Governor, a Legislative Assembly, and an Executive Council, which administers the islands. The Governor is recruited from the U.K. Government Service, serves as the British government administrator, and retains responsibility for the civil service, defense, external affairs, and internal security. The Governor also chairs the Executive Council and appoints to the Council the Chief Secretary, the Attorney General, and the Financial Secretary, while the Legislative Assembly elects the Council's other five members. Unlike other Caribbean Overseas Territories there is no Chief Minister but a Leader of Government Business. The Leader of Government Business is an elected politician, while the Chief Secretary is the most senior civil servant. Currently, the Leader of Government Business is also the Minister for Tourism, Environment, Development, and Commerce.

Responsibility for defense and external affairs resides with the United Kingdom; however, the Chief Secretary has the portfolio for external affairs, and the Cayman Government may negotiate certain bilateral matters directly with foreign governments. The elected members of the Executive Council divide the remaining administrative portfolios.

The 18-seat unicameral Legislative Assembly is presided over by an independent speaker. Elections are held at the discretion of the governor at least every 4 years. Members of the assembly may introduce bills, which, if passed, are then approved, returned, or disallowed by the Governor. The U.K. Government also reserves the right to disallow bills approved by the Governor.

The four-tiered judicial system is based on English common law and colonial and local statutes. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal is the highest court on the islands, but Her Majesty's Privy Council sitting in London may hear a final appeal.

Political Coalitions

Political parties have operated infrequently in the past, and public officeholders tend to be independents. Since the 1970s, groups of candidates have organized themselves into ad hoc coalitions called teams and run on platforms of shared concerns. In November 2000 elections, voters ousted the leader of the government and two other ministers because of legislation enacted to weaken bank secrecy. Seven new members were elected to the Legislative Assembly.

Principal Government Officials

Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II
Governor: Bruce Dinwiddy , since May 2002
Leader of Government Business: The Honorable McKeeva Bush, since December 2001

The Cayman Islands are represented in the United States by the United Kingdom Embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC 20008; tel: 202-462-1340; fax: 202-898-4255.

The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, with offices in Miami, New York, Houston, and Chicago, also may provide travel information.


U.S.-CAYMANIAN RELATIONS

Although the United Kingdom is responsible for the Cayman Islands' defense and external affairs, important bilateral issues are often resolved by negotiations between the Cayman Government and foreign governments, including the United States. Despite close historic and political links to the U.K. and Jamaica, geography and the rise of tourism and international finance in the Cayman Islands' economy has made the United States its most important foreign economic partner. Following a dip in tourists from the United States after 9/11, about 500,000 U.S. citizens traveled to the Cayman Islands in 2002; some 10,000 Americans are resident there.

For U.S. and other foreign investors and businesses, the Cayman Islands' main appeal as a financial center is the absence of all major direct taxes, free capital movement, a minimum of government regulations, and a well-developed financial infrastructure. The Cayman Islands is the world's fifth-largest financial center.

With the rise in international narcotics trafficking, the Cayman Government entered into the Narcotics Agreement of 1984 and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of 1986 with the United States in order to reduce the use of its facilities for money laundering operations. In June 2000, The Cayman Islands was listed by multilateral organizations as a tax haven and a non-cooperative territory in fighting money laundering. The country's swift response in enacting laws limiting banking secrecy, introducing requirements for customer identification and record keeping, and for banks to cooperate with foreign investigators led to its removal from the list of non-cooperative territories in June 2001.

U.S. Representation

The United States does not maintain diplomatic offices in the Cayman Islands. Diplomatic relations are conducted through the U.S. Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Washington, DC.

The Cayman Islands are, however, part of the consular district administered by the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. Inquiries regarding visas to the U.S. or other consular matters should be directed to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica; tel: 876-929-4850; fax: 876-935-6019. There also is a U.S. consular agent, Gail Duquesnay, in the Cayman Islands to assist in providing services for American citizens—tel: 345-945-1511; cell: 345-916-7326.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

KINGSTON (E) Address: NCB Towers, South Tower, Third Floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I.; Phone: 876-935-6000; Fax: 876-935-6001; Workweek: M-F; 07:15 to 16:00; most offices allow flex time; all offices staffed core hours, some staff takes Friday afternoons off, working longer on other days.; Website: usembassy.state.gov/kingston

AMB:Brenda La Grange Johnson
AMB OMS:Tiffany Thompson
DCM:Thomas C. Tighe
DCM OMS:Daniel J. Pellegrino
CG:Ronald S. Robinson
CG OMS:Yvonne Barnett
POL/ECO:Mark Powell
MGT:Steven J. Valdez
AFSA:Kim D'Auria-Vazira
AGR:Paul Hoffman
AID:Karen Turner
APHIS:Alester Simmons
CLO:Eva Crawford
DAO:Randall Ramel
DEA:Kelvin Jamison
EEO:Sheila Groh
FAA:Allan B. Hurr
FCS:David Katz
FMO:Natalie Cropper
GSO:Steven Goertz
ICASS Chair:Peter Klosky
IMO:Howard Sparks
INS:Charles W. Jean
IPO:Kenneth Klein
ISSO:Kenneth Klein
MLO:Matthew Faddis
NAS:Natasha Henderson
PAO:Glenn Guimond
RSO:Michael Limpantsis
Last Updated: 1/5/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 13, 2005

Country Description:

The Cayman Islands are a British dependent territory consisting of three main islands with a total area of approximately 100 square miles and located about 500 miles west of Jamaica. There is an international airport located in Grand Cayman, and facilities for tourists are widely available. The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

U.S. citizens traveling as tourists or attending meetings can enter the Cayman Islands with a U.S. passport, a naturalization certificate or an original, certified birth certificate and photo identification. Persons traveling with U.S. passports tend to encounter fewer difficulties when departing than those who choose to use other documents. U.S. citizens traveling to the Cayman Islands for work must obtain a temporary work permit from the Department of Immigration of the Cayman Islands, telephone (345) 949-8344. There is a departure tax for travelers age 12 and older, which is regularly included in airfare. For further information travelers may contact Cayman Islands Department of Tourism offices in Miami at (305) 599-9033, New York (212) 889-9009, Houston (713) 461-1317 and Chicago (630) 705-0650; or via the Internet at http://www.caymanislands.ky. Read our information on dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction.

Safety and Security:

The Cayman Islands are considered politically stable and enjoy a high standard of living. There have been no reported incidences of terrorism or threats made against Americans or American interests in the Cayman Islands.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

The crime threat in Cayman Islands is generally considered low although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. Petty theft, pickpocketing and purse snatchings occur. A few cases involving sexual assault have been reported to the Embassy. However, it is difficult to gauge the number of sexual assaults, especially situations involving acquaintance rape or use of "date rape" drugs as incidents may go unreported. Police in the Cayman Islands have alluded to increased availability of drugs and several persons have been arrested for possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy, among other drugs. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances.

Information for victims of crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information.

Medical facilities and health information:

The quality of medical care is generally comparable to that available in the United States. However, some procedures and cases requiring critical care require medical evacuation to the United States. On average one American citizen per month drowns or suffers cardiac arrest while snorkeling or SCUBA diving in the Cayman Islands. These deaths may be attributed in part to tourists attempting to do more than they are trained to do or may be due to poor physical conditioning or preexisting medical conditions that are exacerbated when snorkeling or diving. A hyperbaric chamber is available for treatment of decompression illness. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic safety and road conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Cayman Islands is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Due to their size, the Caymans have little highway infrastructure to maintain. Local driving standards, the risk of accidents, the availability of emergency roadside service, quality and frequency of signage, enforcement of traffic laws, generally meet the standards of the United States. Visitors must obtain a temporary driver's license, easily granted upon presentation of a valid state driver's license and payment of a small fee at the car rental agency or a police station. Laws against driving while intoxicated are strictly enforced, with a legal maximum blood alcohol level set at 100 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood. Seatbelt laws are also enforced and require the driver and all passengers to be fastened in while in motion

Visit the website of the Cayman Islands' national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.caymanislands.ky.

Aviation safety oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Cayman Islands as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of the Cayman Islands' air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances:

Cayman Islands customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Cayman islands of items such as firearms of any kind, spear guns (or pole spears or Hawaiian slings), live plants and plant cuttings. Raw fruits and vegetables are also restricted. Visitors from the United States should be aware that products made from farmed green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm Ltd. are offered for local consumption. The importation of genuine sea turtle products is strictly prohibited by the United States and other countries which have signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In addition, U.S. Customs prohibits the transshipment of turtle products through the United States and any products discovered will be confiscated. It is advisable to contact the Collector of Customs (345) 949-2473 for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating laws of the Cayman Islands, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Cayman Islands are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in the Cayman Islands are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Cayman Islands. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. There is a U.S. Consular Agency in George Town, Grand Cayman, largest of the three Cayman Islands. The Consular Agency is located in the Grand Harbour Shops, Unit 7, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, telephone number (345) 945-8173 or (345) 945-1511 and e-mail mailto:[email protected] or [email protected] Americans living in or visiting the Cayman Islands are encouraged to register with the Consular Agency or with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, which has jurisdiction over this territory.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in the Life of Jamaica Building at 16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5. The phone number is (876) 935-6044. Office hours are Monday through Friday (except Jamaican and U.S. holidays), 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with window services 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Both the Consular Agency and Embassy may provide updated information on travel and security within the Cayman Islands. The Embassy website is http://usembassy.state.gov/kingston/.

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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Compiled from the December 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Cayman Islands

PROFILE

HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS

ECONOMY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

U.S.-CAYMANIAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 259 sq. km. (100 sq. mi.) on three islands: Grand Cayman (76 sq. mi.), Cayman Brac (14 sq. mi.), and Little Cayman (10 sq. mi.).

Cities: George Town (pop. 20,626).

Terrain: Flat.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Caymanian(s).

Population: (2006 est.) 45,436.

Annual growth rate: 2.56%.

Ethnic groups: Afro-European 40%, African 20%, European 20%, other 20%.

Religions: United Church, Anglican, other Protestant, Roman Catholic.

Language: English.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 16. Literacy (age 15 and over)—98%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—4.8/1,000. Life expectancy—Males 77.45/Females 82.74.

Work force: 22,420.

Government

Type: British Overseas Territory.

Constitution: 1972; called the Cayman Islands Order.

Government branches: Executive—Governor and Governor-in-Cabinet (representing British monarch), Cabinet. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly (15 elected, three appointed members). Judicial—Summary Court, Grand Court, Cayman Islands Court of Appeal, Her Majesty’s Privy Council.

Political subdivisions: Eight districts.

Political parties: People’s Progressive Movement, United Democratic Party.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2002 est., purchasing power parity) $1.9 billion.

Growth rate: 0.9%.

Per capita income: (2002 est., purchasing power parity) $36,500.

Natural resources: Scenic beaches and underwater attractions, favorable climate.

Agriculture: Products—Minor production of vegetables and livestock, turtle farming, aquaculture.

Industry: Types—tourism, banking, insurance, mutual funds, finance, and construction.

Trade: Exports (2004)—$1.2 million: turtle products, manufactured consumer goods. Major market—United States. Imports (2004)—$722.4 million: machinery, manufactures, food, fuels, chemicals. Major suppliers—U.S., Jamaica, U.K., Netherlands Antilles, Japan.

Exchange rate: (Nov. 2003) CI $0.82=U.S. $1.

HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. A variety of people settled on the islands, including pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, deserters from Oliver Cromwell’s army in Jamaica, and slaves. The majority of Caymanians are of African and British descent, with considerable interracial mixing.

Great Britain took formal control of the Cayman Islands, along with Jamaica, under the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts, permanent settlement of the islands began in the 1730s. The Cayman Islands historically have been popular as a tax-exempt destination. Legend has it that Caymanians in 1788 rescued the crews of a Jamaican merchant ship convoy which had struck a reef at Gun Bay and that the Caymanians were rewarded with King George III’s promise to never again impose any tax.

The Cayman Islands, initially administered as a dependency of Jamaica, became an independent colony in 1959; they now are a self-governing British Overseas Territory.

ECONOMY

Although Caymanians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, about 90% of the islands’ food and consumer goods must be imported.

From the earliest settlement of the Cayman Islands, economic activity was hindered by isolation and a limited natural resource base. The harvesting of sea turtles to resupply passing sailing ships was the first major economic activity on the islands, but local stocks were depleted by the 1790s. Agriculture, while sufficient to support the small early settler population, has always been limited by the scarcity of available land.

The advent of modern transportation and telecommunications in the 1950s led to the emergence of what are now considered the Cayman Islands’ “twin pillars” of economic development: international finance and tourism. In 2004, there were more than 70,000 companies registered in the Cayman Islands, including 446 banks and trust companies. Forty of the world’s largest banks are present in the Cayman Islands. It is estimated that financial services represent 40% and tourism between 30-40% of gross domestic product. Unspoiled beaches, duty-free shopping, scuba diving, and deep-sea fishing draw almost a million visitors to the islands each year.

Education is compulsory to the age of 16 and is free to all Caymanian children. Schools follow the British educational system. The Government operates 10 primary, one special education, and two high schools. In addition, there is a university and a law school.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Cayman Islands’ physical isolation under early British colonial rule allowed the development of an indigenous set of administrative and legal traditions which were codified into a Constitution in 1959. Although still a British Overseas Territory, the islands today are self-governed in nearly all respects. The Constitution, or Cayman Islands Order, that now governs the islands came into effect in 1972 and was amended in 1984.

The Cayman Islands’ political system is very stable, bolstered by a tradition of restrained civil governance, sustained economic prosperity, and its relative isolation from foreign policy concerns by virtue of its colonial relationship with the United Kingdom. Public discussion revolves around public sector expenditure and social services, the pace of additional economic development, and the status of the large foreign national community on the islands.

Government Structure

The Cayman Islands form a British Overseas Territory with a large measure of self-government. The present constitution, which came into effect in 1972, provides for a system of government headed by a Governor, a Legislative Assembly, and a Cabinet, which administers the islands. The Governor is recruited from the U.K. Government Service, serves as the British government administrator, and retains responsibility for the civil service, defense, external affairs, and internal security.

The Governor also chairs the Cabinet and appoints to the Cabinet the Chief Secretary, the Attorney General, and the Financial Secretary, while the Legislative Assembly elects the Cabinet’s other five members. Unlike other Caribbean Overseas Territories there is no Chief Minister but a Leader of Government Business. The Leader of Government Business is an elected politician, while the Chief Secretary is the most senior civil servant. Currently, the Leader of Government Business is also the Minister for District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing.

Responsibility for defense and external affairs resides with the United Kingdom; however, the Chief Secretary has responsibility for the Portfolio of Internal and External affairs, and the Cayman Government may negotiate certain bilateral matters directly with foreign governments. The elected members of the Cabinet divide the remaining administrative portfolios. The 18-seat unicameral Legislative Assembly is presided over by an independent speaker. Elections are held at the discretion of the Governor at least every 4 years. Members of the Assembly may introduce bills, which, if passed, are then approved, returned, or disallowed by the Governor. The U.K. Government also reserves the right to disallow bills approved by the Governor.

The four-tiered judicial system is based on English common law and colonial and local statutes. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal is the highest court on the islands, but Her Majesty’s Privy Council sitting in London may hear a final appeal.

Political Coalitions

Since 2000, there have been two official political parties: The United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM). While there has been a shift to political parties, many contending for an office still run as independents. In May 2005 elections, the People’s Progressive Movement won, receiving nine of the 15 seats.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/6/2006

Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II

Governor: Stuart Jack , since November 2005

Leader of Government Business: The Honorable Kurt Tibbetts , since May 2005

The Cayman Islands are represented in the United States by the United Kingdom Embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC 20008; tel: 202-462-1340; fax: 202-898-4255. The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, with offices in Miami, New York, Houston, and Chicago, also may provide travel information.

U.S.-CAYMANIAN RELATIONS

Although the United Kingdom is responsible for the Cayman Islands’ defense and external affairs, important bilateral issues are often resolved by negotiations between the Cayman Government and foreign governments, including the United States. Despite close historic and political links to the U.K. and Jamaica, geography and the rise of tourism and international finance in the Cayman Islands’ economy has made the United States its most important foreign economic partner. Following a dip in tourists from the United States after September 11, 2001, over 200,000 U.S. citizens traveled by air to the Cayman Islands in 2004; some 4,761 Americans are resident there (2005).

For U.S. and other foreign investors and businesses, the Cayman Islands’ main appeal as a financial center is the absence of all major direct taxes, free capital movement, a minimum of government regulations, and a well-developed financial infrastructure.

With the rise in international narcotics trafficking, the Cayman Government entered into the Narcotics Agreement of 1984 and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of 1986 with the United States in order to reduce the use of its facilities for money laundering operations. In June 2000,

The Cayman Islands was listed by multilateral organizations as a tax haven and a non-cooperative territory in fighting money laundering. The country’s swift response in enacting laws limiting banking secrecy, introducing requirements for customer identification and record keeping, and for banks to cooperate with foreign investigators led to its removal from the list of non-cooperative territories in June 2001.

U.S. Representation

The United States does not maintain diplomatic offices in the Cayman Islands. Diplomatic relations are conducted through the U.S. Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Washington, DC.

The Cayman Islands are, however, part of the consular district administered by the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. Inquiries regarding visas to the U.S. or other consular matters should be directed to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy, 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, Jamaica; tel: (876) 702-6000; fax: (876) 702-6001. There also is a U.S. consular agent in the Cayman Islands to assist in providing services for American citizens. Address: Unit 222, Mirco Center, North Sound Road, Georgetown, Grand Cayman; tel: (345) 945-8173; fax: (345) 945-8192. For after-hours emergencies call the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, tel: (876) 702-6000. The Consular Agency in Georgetown is open to the public: M-W-F 0730 to 1100 and T-Th 1200 to 1530. The office is closed on U.S. and Caymanian public holidays.

KINGSTON (E) Address: 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6; Phone: 876-702-6000; Fax: 876-702-6001; Workweek: M-F; 07:15 to 16:00; most offices allow flex time; all offices staffed core hours, some staff takes Friday afternoons off, working longer on other days.; Website: usembassy. state.gov/kingston

AMB:Brenda La Grange Johnson
AMB OMS:Tiffany Thompson
DCM:James T. Heg
DCM OMS:LaVonya Hayward
CG:Edward Wehrli
CG OMS:Yvonne Barnett
POL/ECO:Lloyd W. Moss
MGT:Eric A. Flohr
AGR:Jamie Rothschild
AID:Karen Turner
APHIS:Alester Simmons
CLO:Eva Crawford
DAO:Randall Ramel
DEA:Kelvin Jamison
EEO:Sheila Groh
FAA:Allan B. Hurr
FCS:Michael McGee
FMO:G. Patricia Chuck
GSO:DeAna McCloy
IMO:Howard Sparks
ISO:Mark McCloy
ISSO:Douglas Culver
MLO:Matthew Faddis
NAS:Andrea Lewis
PAO:Glenn Guimond
RSO:Arthur Balek
State ICASS:Eric A. Flohr

Last Updated: 1/24/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : February 7, 2007

Country Description: The Cayman Islands are a British dependent territory consisting of three main islands with a total area of approximately 100 square miles and located about 500 miles west of Jamaica. There is an international airport located in Grand Cayman, and facilities for tourists are widely available. The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands.

Important New Information: Effective January 23, 2007, all U.S. citizens traveling by air to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada are required to have a valid passport to enter or reenter the United States. As early as January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USAPPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on applying for a passport.

Until these new regulations take effect, a naturalization certificate or an original, certified birth certificate and photo identification may be used in lieu of a passport. Persons traveling with U.S. passports tend to encounter fewer difficulties when departing than those who choose to use other documents. U.S. citizens traveling to the Cayman Islands for work must obtain a temporary work permit from the Department of Immigration of the Cayman Islands, telephone (345) 949-8344. There is a departure tax for travelers age 12 and older, which is regularly included in airfare. For further information travelers may contact Cayman Islands Department of Tourism offices in Miami at (305) 599-9033, New York (212) 889-9009, Houston (713) 461-1317 and Chicago (630) 705-0650; or via the Internet at http://www.caymanislands.ky. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on the Cayman Islands and other countries.

Safety and Security: The Cayman Islands are considered politically stable and enjoy a high standard of living. There have been no reported incidences of terrorism or threats made against Americans or American interests in the Cayman Islands.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: The crime threat in Cayman Islands is generally considered low although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. Petty theft, pick pocketing and purse snatchings occur. A few cases involving sexual assault have been reported to the Embassy. Police in the Cayman Islands have alluded to increased availability of drugs and several persons have been arrested for possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy, among other drugs. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.

The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: The quality of medical care is generally comparable to that available in the United States. However, some procedures and cases requiring critical care require medical evacuation to the United States. Several American citizens have drowned or suffered cardiac arrest while snorkeling or SCUBA diving in the Cayman Islands. These deaths may be attributed in part to tourists attempting to do more than they are trained to do or may be due to poor physical conditioning or preexisting medical conditions that are exacerbated when snorkeling or diving. A hyperbaric chamber is available for treatment of decompression illness. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Cayman Islands is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Due to their size, the Caymans have little highway infrastructure to maintain. Local driving standards, the risk of accidents, the availability of emergency roadside service, quality and frequency of signage, and enforcement of traffic laws, generally meet the standards of the United States. Visitors must obtain a temporary driver’s license, easily granted upon presentation of a valid state driver’s license and payment of a small fee, at a car rental agency or a police station. Laws against driving while intoxicated are strictly enforced, with a legal maximum blood alcohol level set at 100 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood. Seatbelt laws are also enforced and require the driver and all passengers to be fastened in while in motion. Visit the website of the Cayman Islands’ national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.caymanislands.ky.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Cayman Islands’ Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Cayman Islands’ air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Cayman Islands customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Cayman islands of items such as firearms of any kind, spear guns (or pole spears or Hawaiian slings), live plants and plant cuttings. Raw fruits and vegetables are also restricted. Visitors from the United States should be aware that products made from farmed green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm Ltd. are offered for local consumption. The importation of genuine sea turtle products is strictly prohibited by the United States, as well as other countries that have signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In addition, U.S. Customs prohibits the transshipment of turtle products through the United States and any products discovered will be confiscated. It is advisable to contact the Collector of Customs (345) 949-2473 for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations. The Cayman Islands, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in the event of an emergency or disaster. General information is available on the subject via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating laws of the Cayman Islands, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Cayman Islands are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration/Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in the Cayman Islands are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Cayman Islands. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Consular Agency in George Town, Grand Cayman is located at 222 Micro Centre. Hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The phone number is (345) 945-8173, fax (345) 945-8192, e-mail [email protected] The agency is closed on official U.S. and Cayman Islands holidays. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in the Life of Jamaica Building at 16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5. The phone number is (876) 935-6044. Office hours are Monday through Friday (except Jamaican and U.S. holidays), 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with window services 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Both the Consular Agency and Embassy may provide updated information on travel and security within the Cayman Islands. The Embassy website is http://usembassy.state.gov/kingston/.

International Adoption : February 2007

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica has issued only one immigrant visa to Caymanian orphans during the past five fiscal years.

Adoption Authority:

Department of Children and Family
Services
Ground Floor, Brit Cay Building
George Town
P.O. Box 10653
Grand Cayman KY1-1006
Cayman Islands
Tel. 345-949-0290
Fax. 345-949-4167

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single, childless or already parenting other children. The requirements outlined in the Cayman Adoption Law state a person must be 25 years of age but not over 65. If married, the prospective adoptive parents must have been married and living together for no less than three years. If a person is married but separated, he or she will need the written consent of his or her spouse in order to make an application.

The Cayman Islands Adoption Law allows non-Caymanians who are domiciled in the Cayman Islands to file applications to adopt.

Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents must be resident of the Cayman Islands or be Caymanian nationals.

Time Frame: The Cayman Islands adoption procedures generally take between fourteen months and two years to complete.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.

Adoption Fees: There is a fee of CI$75 for processing an application for adoption within the Cayman Islands.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents should contact the Adoption Coordinator, who works within the Department of Children and Family Services, to arrange for an initial interview. The adoption process will be explained and if everything is in order, prospective adoptive parents will be given the application packet to take away and complete. The adoption application packet consists of an application form and several other documents. When all of the required documents are completed, the Coordinator files the application with the Adoption Board. The Adoption Board will arrange for a home study (assessment) to be carried out by a qualified social worker in the Cayman Islands. When the assessment is completed, the social worker will produce a report for the Adoption Board; this report enables the Board to determine whether or not a person should be approved as a prospective adopter. As soon as the Board gives its approval, the focus is then placed on identifying a child who best fits the profile for placement with the prospective adoptive family. After the child is placed with the prospective adoptive parents, there is a statutory period of three months during which time the family will be visited by a social worker. This is called the “supervision period,” The social worker will visit several times to ensure that the child is well cared for and that bonding is taking place. At the end of the supervision period, the social worker will write a report for the Grand Court to support the application for the Adoption Order. When the Grand Court supervision report is completed, the application for an Adoption Order will be prepared and the case filed with the Court. The Clerk of the Court will issue a date for the hearing and summonses will be served to the prospective adoptive parents and all other interested parties to attend Court on that date. Apart from the prospective adoptive parents and the child to be adopted, the child’s birth parents (if known) or previous guardian, are required to attend. When the Adoption Order is granted, the adoption is complete.

Documentary Requirements:

  • Medical report of the adoptive parent(s);
  • Police reports for the adoptive parents;
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable);
  • Divorce decree (if applicable).

Representation in the United States: The Cayman Islands are represented in the United States by the Embassy of the United Kingdom:

United Kingdom Embassy
3100 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington DC 20008
Telephone: 202-462-1340
Fax: 202-898-4255.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica:

142 Old Hope Rd.
Kingston 6
Jamaica, West Indies
Phone: 876-702-6000
Fax: 876-702-6018

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in the Cayman Islands may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. General questions regarding inter-country adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands, a British dependency in the Caribbean located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. Consisting of the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, the territory covers an area of about 100 square miles. Sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1503, the island group was named Las Tortugas on account of its native sea turtles. By 1530 the name "Caimanas," or "Caymans," derived from a word meaning crocodile in the language of the Caribs, early island visitors, came into acceptance. Permanent settlers arrived after the Treaty of Madrid (1670), by which Spain recognized English claims to these islands in exchange for restraint of pirates whose haunts included the Caymans. From 1863 to 1959, the Cayman Islands were officially a dependency of Jamaica. Upon Jamaican independence in 1962, they chose to remain a British Crown Colony. Since the Constitution of 1972 was implemented, the Caymans have been internally autonomous under an appointed governor.

Aided by government promotion, tourism has become the most important industry, even despite setbacks with terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 and the landing of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Cruise ship stopovers to the island are major explanations for the industry's strength.

Offshore finance, another industry of recent prominence, developed in response to banking confidentiality legislation and the absence of direct taxation, making the Caymans an international financial center. As of year-end 2005, there were 305 banks. More significantly, since the mid-1990s, mutual funds have become widely prevalent. At year-end 2005, there were 7,107 registered mutual funds.

In 1996, stricter legislation against money-laundering was passed. In 2002, a tax information exchange agreement with the United States was passed, with which the United States can access information on criminal tax evasion and administrative matters related to U.S. federal income tax. It went into full effect in 2006.

See alsoMadrid, Treaty of (1670); Tourism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

George S. S. Hirst, Notes on the History of the Cayman Islands (1910; repr. 1967).

H. B. L. Hughes, "Notes on the Cayman Islands," in Jamaican Historical Review 1, no. 2 (1946): 154-158.

Neville Williams, A History of the Cayman Islands (1970).

Brian Uzzell, ed., The Cayman Islands Yearbook and Business Directory (annual).

                                         Paula S. Gibbs

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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom

  • Area: 100 sq mi (259 sq km); Grand Cayman 76 sq mi (97 sq km) / Little Cayman, 10 sq mi (26 sq km); Cayman Brac, 14 sq mi (36 sq km) / World Rank: 196
  • Location: Caribbean Sea in the Northern and Western Hemispheres; Grand Cayman lies about 180 mi (290 km) northwest of Jamaica and 150 mi (240 km) south of Cuba; Little Cayman and Cayman Brac lie about 90 mi (145 km) further northeast
  • Coordinates: 19°30′N, 80°30′W
  • Borders: No international borders
  • Coastline: 100 mi (160 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM (22 km)
  • Highest Point: The Bluff, Cayman Brac, 141 ft (43 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest River: None of significance
  • Natural Hazards: Hurricanes
  • Population: 35,527 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 196
  • Capital City: George Town, located on the western shore of Grand Cayman Island
  • Largest City: George Town, 13,000 (2001 est.)

OVERVIEW

The three islands that make up the Cayman Islands are Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. The low-lying islands are outcroppings of the underwater mountain range known as the Cayman Ridge that extends from the southeast area of Cuba west-southwest toward Belize in Central America. Coral reefs surround the Cayman Islands.

Two types of limestone make up the islands. The older type, known as bluff limestone, formed the central core of each island about 30 million years ago. The limestone surrounding this core, known as "ironshore" or coastal limestone, was formed from limestone compacted with coral and mollusk shells around 120,000 years ago. The Cayman Islands are situated on the Caribbean Plate.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

On Grand Cayman Island, the highest elevation is about 60 ft (18 m). On Cayman Brac, The Bluff, the highest point in the Cayman Islands, rises along the 12 mi (19 km) length of the island, reaching a height of 141 ft (43 m) at the far eastern end of the island, where it forms a dramatic cliff at the edge of the sea. Little Cayman has little variance in elevation.

INLAND WATERWAYS

The central part of Grand Cayman Island features some minor wetlands where the mangrove, a dense tropical plant, thrives. There are no inland waterways on the Cayman Islands.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Oceans and Seas

The deepest part of the Caribbean Sea lies between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Known as the Cayman Trough, the sea is over 4 mi (6 km) deep in this area. Another deep area, known as the Barlett Deep, lies between the Cayman Islands and Honduras to the southwest. A channel 7 mi (11 km) wide separates Little Cayman from Cayman Brac.

Major Islands

Grand Cayman spans about 25 miles (40 km) from east to west, and lies 150 miles (240 km) south of Cuba and about 180 miles (290 km) west of Jamaica. Little Cayman and Cayman Brac lie 80 miles (130 km) and 90 miles (144 km) to the east of Grand Cayman, respectively; both extend about 10 mi (16 km) from east to west, and about a mile (less than 2 km) from north to south.

The Coast and Beaches

At the western end of Grand Cayman Island, the north coast features the North Sound, a large lagoon measuring about 35 sq mi (120 sq km). Grand Cayman is also the site of the Seven-Mile Beach, a long, uninterrupted stretch of sandy beach, actually measuring 5 mi (8 km), along the island's westernmost coast along West Bay.

Islands – Cayman Islands
Name Area (sq mi) Area (sq km)
Grand Cayman 76 197
Cayman Brac 14 36
Little Cayman 10 26
SOURCE : Geo-Data: The World Geographical Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1989.

The Cayman Bank is a shallow area 10 mi (16 km) west of Grand Cayman. It measures about 5 mi (8 km) long by one-half mile (800 m) wide.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

The average high temperature in summer (May to October is 85°F (29°C); the average high temperature in winter (November to April) is 75°F (24°C). The record low temperature of 58°F (24°C) was set January 19, 2000.

Rainfall

The rainy season extends from May to October with May-June and September-October usually being the wettest months. The western side of the islands receives the most rainfall since the prevailing winds blow toward the west; the record rainfall was November 30, 1993, with 7.8 in (198 mm). Tropical storms and even hurricanes occasionally hit the Cayman Islands and their neighbors in the Caribbean and Central America.

HUMAN POPULATION

The majority of Caymanians reside on Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac, the most easterly island, has the fewest permanent residents. Over 600,000 tourists visit the Cayman Islands annually.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Tourism is the primary economic activity, attracting sport fishers and divers. The government has established several marine parks, bird sanctuaries, and other nature reserves.

FURTHER READINGS

Frink, Stephen. The Cayman Islands Dive Guide. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1999.

Permenter, Paris. Adventure Guide to the Cayman Islands. Edison, NJ: Hunter, 2000.

Philpott, Don. Cayman Islands. Edison, NJ: Hunter, 2000.

Smith, Martha K. The Cayman Islands: The Beach and Beyond. Edison, NJ: Hunter, 1995.

Smith, Roger C. The Maritime Heritage of the Cayman Islands. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.

World Travel Guide.net. Cayman Islands.http://www.travelguides.com/data/cym/cym.asp (accessed March 5, 2002).

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Cayman Islands

CAYMAN ISLANDS

Compiled from the October 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Cayman Islands


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 259 sq. km. (100 sq. mi.) on three islands: Grand Cayman (76 sq. mi.), Cayman Brac (14 sq. mi.), and Little Cayman (10 sq. mi.).

Capital: George Town (pop. 15,000).

Terrain: Flat.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Caymanian(s).

Population: (2004 est.) 43,103

Annual growth rate: 2.71%.

Ethnic groups: Afro-European 40%, African 20%, European 20%, other 20%.

Religions: United Church, Anglican, other Protestant, Roman Catholic.

Language: English.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 16. Literacy (age 15 and over)—98%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—8.41/1,000. Life expectancy—79.8 yrs.

Work force: 20,000.

Government

Type: British Overseas Territory.

Constitution: 1972; called the Cayman Islands Order.

Branches: Executive—Governor and President of the Executive Council (representing British monarch), Executive Council. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly (15 elected, three appointed members). Judicial—Summary Court, Grand Court, Cayman Islands Court of Appeal, Her Majesty's Privy Council. Administrative subdivisions: Eight districts.

Political parties: No formal political parties.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2002 est., purchasing power parity) $1.27 billion.

Growth rate: 1.74%.

Per capita income: (2002 est., purchasing power parity) $35,000.

Natural resources: Scenic beaches and underwater attractions, favorable climate.

Agriculture: Products—Minor production of vegetables and livestock, turtle farming.

Industry: Types—tourism, banking, insurance and finance, construction.

Trade: Exports (1999)—$1.2 million: turtle products, manufactured consumer goods. Major market—United States. Imports (1999)—$457.4 million: machinery, manufactures, food, fuels, chemicals. Major suppliers—U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, U.K., Netherlands Antilles, Japan.

Official exchange rate: (Nov. 2003) CI $0.82=U.S.$1.


HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. A variety of people settled on the islands, including pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, deserters from Oliver Cromwell's army in Jamaica, and slaves. The majority of Caymanians are of African and British descent, with considerable interracial mixing.

Great Britain took formal control of the Caymans, along with Jamaica, under the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts, permanent settlement of the islands began in the 1730s. The Cayman Islands historically have been popular as a tax haven. Legend has it that Caymanians in 1788 rescued the crews of a Jamaican merchant ship convoy which had struck a reef at Gun Bay and that the Caymanians were rewarded with King George III's promise to never again impose any tax.

The Cayman Islands, initially administered as a dependency of Jamaica, became an independent colony in 1959; they now are a self-governing British Overseas Territory.


ECONOMY

Although Caymanians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, about 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported.

From the earliest settlement of the Cayman Islands, economic activity was hindered by isolation and a limited natural resource base. The harvesting of sea turtles to resupply passing sailing ships was the first major economic activity on the islands, but local stocks were depleted by the 1790s. Agriculture, while sufficient to support the small early settler population, has always been limited by the scarcity of available land.

The advent of modern transportation and telecommunications in the 1950s led to the emergence of what are now considered the Cayman Islands' "twin pillars" of economic development: international finance and tourism. In 2002, there were more than 40,000 companies registered in the Cayman Islands, including 600 banks and trust companies. Forty-three of the world's largest banks are present in the Cayman Islands.

Tourism represents about 70% of gross domestic product and 75% of total export earnings. Unspoiled beaches, duty-free shopping, scuba diving, and deep-sea fishing draw almost a million visitors to the islands each year.

Education is compulsory to the age of 16 and is free to all Caymanian children. Schools follow the British educational system. Ten primary, one special education, and three high schools are operated by the government. In addition, there is a technical school, a law school, and a community college.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Cayman Islands' physical isolation under early British colonial rule allowed the development of an indigenous set of administrative and legal traditions which were codified into a Constitution in 1959. Although still a British Crown Colony, the islands today are self-governed in nearly all respects. The Constitution, or Cayman Islands Order, that now governs the islands came into effect in 1972 and was amended in 1984.

The Cayman Islands' political system is very stable, bolstered by a tradition of restrained civil governance, sustained economic prosperity, and its relative isolation from foreign policy concerns by virtue of its colonial relationship with the United Kingdom. Public discussion revolves around public sector expenditure and social services, the pace of additional economic development, and the status of the large foreign national community on the islands.

Government Structure

Cayman Islands form a British Overseas Territory with a large measure of self-government. The present constitution, which came into effect in 1972, provides for a system of government headed by a Governor, a Legislative Assembly, and an Executive Council, which administers the islands. The Governor is recruited from the U.K. Government Service, serves as the British government administrator, and retains responsibility for the civil service, defense, external affairs, and internal security. The Governor also chairs the Executive Council and appoints to the Council the Chief Secretary, the Attorney General, and the Financial Secretary, while the Legislative Assembly elects the Council's other five members. Unlike other Caribbean Overseas Territories there is no Chief Minister but a Leader of Government Business. The Leader of Government Business is an elected politician, while the Chief Secretary is the most senior civil servant. Currently, the Leader of Government Business is also the Minister for Tourism, Environment, Development, and Commerce.

Responsibility for defense and external affairs resides with the United Kingdom; however, the Chief Secretary has the portfolio for external affairs, and the Cayman Government may negotiate certain bilateral matters directly with foreign governments. The elected members of the Executive Council divide the remaining administrative portfolios.

The 18-seat unicameral Legislative Assembly is presided over by an independent speaker. Elections are held at the discretion of the governor at least every 4 years. Members of the assembly may introduce bills, which, if passed, are then approved, returned, or disallowed by the Governor. The U.K. Government also reserves the right to disallow bills approved by the Governor.

The four-tiered judicial system is based on English common law and colonial and local statutes. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal is the highest court on the islands, but Her Majesty's Privy Council sitting in London may hear a final appeal.

Political Coalitions

Political parties have operated infrequently in the past, and public officeholders tend to be independents. Since the 1970s, groups of candidates have organized themselves into ad hoc coalitions called teams and run on platforms of shared concerns. In November 2000 elections, voters ousted the leader of the government and two other ministers because of legislation enacted to weaken bank secrecy. Seven new members were elected to the Legislative Assembly.

Principal Government Officials

Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II
Governor: Bruce Dinwiddy
Leader of Government Business: The Honorable McKeeva Bush

The Cayman Islands are represented in the United States by the United Kingdom Embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC 20008; tel: 202-462-1340; fax: 202-898-4255.

The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, with offices in Miami, New York, Houston, and Chicago, also may provide travel information.


U.S.-CAYMANIAN RELATIONS

Although the United Kingdom is responsible for the Cayman Islands' defense and external affairs, important bilateral issues are often resolved by negotiations between the Cayman Government and foreign governments, including the United States. Despite close historic and political links to the U.K. and Jamaica, geography and the rise of tourism and international finance in the Cayman Islands' economy has made the United States its most important foreign economic partner. Following a dip in tourists from the United States after 9/11, about 500,000 U.S. citizens traveled to the Cayman Islands in 2002; some 10,000 Americans are resident there.

For U.S. and other foreign investors and businesses, the Cayman Islands' main appeal as a financial center is the absence of all major direct taxes, free capital movement, a minimum of government regulations, and a well-developed financial infrastructure. The Cayman Islands is the world's fifth-largest financial center.

With the rise in international narcotics trafficking, the Cayman Government entered into the Narcotics Agreement of 1984 and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of 1986 with the United States in order to reduce the use of its facilities for money laundering operations. In June 2000, The Cayman Islands was listed by multilateral organizations as a tax haven and a non-cooperative territory in fighting money laundering. The country's swift response in

enacting laws limiting banking secrecy, introducing requirements for customer identification and record keeping, and for banks to cooperate with foreign investigators led to its removal from the list of non-cooperative territories in June 2001.

U.S. Representation

The United States does not maintain diplomatic offices in the Cayman Islands. Diplomatic relations are conducted through the U.S. Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Washington, DC.

The Cayman Islands are, however, part of the consular district administered by the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica.

KINGSTON (E) Address: NCB Towers, South Tower, Third Floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I.; Phone: 876-935-6000; Fax: 876-935-6001; Workweek: M–F; 07:15 to 16:00; Website: usembassy.state.gov/kingston

AMB:Sue M. Cobb
DCM:Thomas C. Tighe
CG:Ronald S. Robinson
POL:Mark Powell
COM:David Katz
MGT:Steven J. Valdez
AFSA:Alexandra Z. Tenny
AGR:David Salmon
AID:Karen Turner
APHIS:Alester Simmons
CLO:Eva Crawford
DAO:Martin Hundley
DEA:Ranaldo Ollie
ECO:Mark Powell
EEO:John Benton
FAA:Allan B. Hurr
FMO:Natalie Cropper
GSO:Steven Goertz
ICASS Chair:Peter Klosky
IMO:John M. Benton
INS:Charles W. Jean
IPO:John M. Benton
ISSO:John M. Benton
MLO:Vincent J. Moynihan
NAS:Garace Reynard
PAO:Glenn Guimond
RSO:Michael Limpantsis
Last Updated: 11/2/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 13, 2005

Country Description: The Cayman Islands are a British dependent territory consisting of three main islands with a total area of approximately 100 square miles and located about 500 miles west of Jamaica. There is an international airport located in Grand Cayman, and facilities for tourists are widely available. The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens traveling as tourists or attending meetings can enter the Cayman Islands with a U.S. passport, a naturalization certificate or an original, certified birth certificate and photo identification. Persons traveling with U.S. passports tend to encounter fewer difficulties when departing than those who choose to use other documents. U.S. citizens traveling to the Cayman Islands for work must obtain a temporary work permit from the Department of Immigration of the Cayman Islands, telephone (345) 949-8344. There is a departure tax for travelers age 12 and older, which is regularly included in airfare. For further information travelers may contact Cayman Islands Department of Tourism offices in Miami at (305) 599-9033, New York (212) 889-9009, Houston (713) 461-1317 and Chicago (630) 705-0650; or via the Internet at http://www.caymanislands.ky.

Safety and Security: The Cayman Islands are considered politically stable and enjoy a high standard of living. There have been no reported incidences of terrorism or threats made against Americans or American interests in the Cayman Islands.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: The crime threat in Cayman Islands is generally considered low although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. Petty theft, pickpocketing and purse snatchings occur. A few cases involving sexual assault have been reported to the Embassy. However, it is difficult to gauge the number of sexual assaults, especially situations involving acquaintance rape or use of "date rape" drugs as incidents may go unreported. Police in the Cayman Islands have alluded to increased availability of drugs and several persons have been arrested for possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy, among other drugs. American citizens should avoid buying, selling, holding or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: The quality of medical care is generally comparable to that available in the United States. However, some procedures and cases requiring critical care require medical evacuation to the United States. On average one American citizen per month drowns or suffers cardiac arrest while snorkeling or SCUBA diving in the Cayman Islands. These deaths may be attributed in part to tourists attempting to do more than they are trained to do or may be due to poor physical conditioning or preexisting medical conditions that are exacerbated when snorkeling or diving. A hyperbaric chamber is available for treatment of decompression illness. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web-site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Cayman Islands is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Due to their size, the Caymans have little highway infrastructure to maintain. Local driving standards, the risk of accidents, the availability of emergency roadside service, quality and frequency of signage, enforcement of traffic laws, generally meet the standards of the United States. Visitors must obtain a temporary driver's license, easily granted upon presentation of a valid state driver's license and payment of a small fee at the car rental agency or a police station. Laws against driving while intoxicated are strictly enforced, with a legal maximum blood alcohol level set at 100 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood. Seatbelt laws are also enforced and require the driver and all passengers to be fastened in while in motion

Visit the website of the Cayman Islands' national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.caymanislands.ky.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Cayman Islands as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of the Cayman Islands' air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: Cayman Islands customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Cayman islands of items such as firearms of any kind, spear guns (or pole spears or Hawaiian slings), live plants and plant cuttings. Raw fruits and vegetables are also restricted. Visitors from the United States should be aware that products made from farmed green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm Ltd. are offered for local consumption. The importation of genuine sea turtle products is strictly prohibited by the United States and other countries which have signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In addition, U.S. Customs prohibits the transshipment of turtle products through the United States and any products discovered will be confiscated. It is advisable to contact the Collector of Customs (345) 949-2473 for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating laws of the Cayman Islands, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Cayman Islands are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in the Cayman Islands are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Cayman Islands. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. There is a U.S. Consular Agency in George Town, Grand Cayman, largest of the three Cayman Islands. The Consular Agency is located in the Grand Harbour Shops, Unit 7, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, telephone number (345) 945-8173 or (345) 945-1511 and e-mail mailto: [email protected] or [email protected] Americans living in or visiting the Cayman Islands are encouraged to register with the Consular Agency or with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, which has jurisdiction over this territory.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in the Life of Jamaica Building at 16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5. The phone number is (876) 935-6044. Office hours are Monday through Friday (except Jamaican and U.S. holidays), 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with window services 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Both the Consular Agency and Embassy may provide updated information on travel and security within the Cayman Islands. The Embassy website is http://usembassy.state.gov/kingston/.

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