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Historical Background to the Turks and Caicos Islands

            Located some five hundred and seventy five miles south of Miami, the Turks and Caicos Islands have a rich history. There are around forty islands and cays that form the chain with only eight populated. With so many islands to choose from it’s easy to find the best places to stay in Turks and Caicos. First inhabited by the South American tribes of the Lucayan civilization who thrived as the sole inhabitants of the islands for over eight hundred years. They were quite an advanced civilization and cultivated many different crops on the fertile islands. The name of the islands actually comes from the Arawak language used by the Lucayan Indians. Turks comes from the turks head cactus that can be found all over the islands and Caicos comes from the Arawak for string or chain of islands.

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            Unfortunately for the Lacayan Indians the arrival of the first Europeans in 1492 following the voyages of Christopher Columbus doomed them to history and the civilization had been wiped out within thirty years. Although quite sophisticated, the Indians were no match for the European settlers and were quickly overcome and used as forced labour. Many were worked to death and many also committed suicide. They were also ill equipped for the arrival of diseases and viruses the occupiers brought with them accentuating their rapid demise.

During this period of time the main industry was salt, easily recoverable due to the natural geography of the islands and an important natural resource at the time. It was the Bermudans who first started harvesting the salt but it was not long before the French and Spanish took over the industry in 1706. However the islands were taken back by the British under the control of the Bahamas until it became part of the Jamaican colony in 1874. Following Jamaican independence in 1962, Turks and Caicos Islands again became part of the British Commonwealth which it remains closely tied to this day.

Nowadays of course the salt mines are all closed with only historical buildings remaining mainly used as tourist attractions. The main industry today is derived mostly from tourism with the two main islands of Providenciales and Grand Turk where most tourists begin their travels. Luxury hotels in Turks and Caicos are in abundance as are long white sandy beaches and a myriad of exotic creatures and amazing aquatic life found in the crystal clear waters of these beautiful chain of Caribbean islands.

I have been fortunate enough to explore the history that Turks and Caicos has to offer and I simply can’t recommend it enough to everyone that I meet. A holiday with such luxury and also learning about the rich history is one that will live long in the memory. Have you been lucky enough to visit Turks and Caicos before? It would be superb if you can leave your comments in the box below this article. I always enjoy hearing about your experiences and tips, it also help everyone else out there when they come to booking their holiday of a lifetime.