Photos of Cayman Islands

Introduction

Background

The Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British during the 18th and 19th centuries and were administered by Jamaica after 1863. In 1959, the islands became a territory within the Federation of the West Indies. When the Federation dissolved in 1962, the Cayman Islands chose to remain a British dependency. The territory has transformed itself into a significant offshore financial center.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Caribbean, three-island group (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, Little Cayman) in Caribbean Sea, 240 km south of Cuba and 268 km northwest of Jamaica

Geographic coordinates

19 30 N, 80 30 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 264 sq km

land: 264 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 210

Area - comparative

1.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

160 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical marine; warm, rainy summers (May to October) and cool, relatively dry winters (November to April)

Terrain

low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs

Elevation

highest point: 1 km SW of The Bluff on Cayman Brac 50 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

Natural resources

fish, climate and beaches that foster tourism

Land use

agricultural land: 11.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 8.3% (2018 est.)

forest: 52.9% (2018 est.)

other: 35.9% (2018 est.)

Population distribution

majority of the population resides on Grand Cayman

Natural hazards

hurricanes (July to November)

Geography - note

important location between Cuba and Central America

People and Society

Population

63,131 (July 2021 est.)

note: most of the population lives on Grand Cayman

country comparison to the world: 204

Nationality

noun: Caymanian(s)

adjective: Caymanian

Ethnic groups

mixed 40%, White 20%, African descent 20%, expatriates of various ethnic groups 20%

Languages

English (official) 90.9%, Spanish 4%, Filipino 3.3%, other 1.7%, unspecified 0.1% (2010 est.)

Religions

Protestant 67.8% (includes Church of God 22.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 9.4%, Presbyterian/United Church 8.6%, Baptist 8.3%, Pentecostal 7.1%, non-denominational 5.3%, Anglican 4.1%, Wesleyan Holiness 2.4%), Roman Catholic 14.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.1%, other 7%, none 9.3%, unspecified 0.7% (2010 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.75% (male 5,535/female 5,457)

15-24 years: 11.86% (male 3,673/female 3,675)

25-54 years: 41.37% (male 12,489/female 13,140)

55-64 years: 14.78% (male 4,398/female 4,755)

65 years and over: 14.24% (male 4,053/female 4,769) (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 40.5 years

male: 39.7 years

female: 41.2 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 51

Birth rate

11.77 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Death rate

5.89 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 166

Net migration rate

12.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

note: major destination for Cubans trying to migrate to the US

country comparison to the world: 5

Population distribution

majority of the population resides on Grand Cayman

Urbanization

urban population: 100% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.13% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

35,000 GEORGE TOWN (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.84 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 9.49 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 156

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81.84 years

male: 79.12 years

female: 84.59 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 28

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97.4% of population

total: 97.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.6% of population

total: 2.6% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 95.6% of population

total: 95.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 4.4% of population

total: 4.4% of population (2015 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school

total population: 98.9%

male: 98.7%

female: 99% (2007)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 13.8%

male: 16.4%

female: 11.4% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 103

Environment

Environment - current issues

no natural freshwater resources; drinking water supplies are met by reverse osmosis desalination plants and rainwater catchment; trash washing up on the beaches or being deposited there by residents; no recycling or waste treatment facilities; deforestation (trees being cut down to create space for commercial use)

Air pollutants

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.55 megatons (2016 est.)

Climate

tropical marine; warm, rainy summers (May to October) and cool, relatively dry winters (November to April)

Land use

agricultural land: 11.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 8.3% (2018 est.)

forest: 52.9% (2018 est.)

other: 35.9% (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 76

Urbanization

urban population: 100% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.13% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 60,000 tons (2014 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 12,600 tons (2013 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 21% (2013 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Cayman Islands

etymology: the islands' name comes from the native Carib word "caiman," describing the marine crocodiles living there

Dependency status

overseas territory of the UK

Government type

parliamentary democracy; self-governing overseas territory of the UK

Capital

name: George Town (on Grand Cayman)

geographic coordinates: 19 18 N, 81 23 W

time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after English King George III (1738-1820)

Administrative divisions

6 districts; Bodden Town, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, East End, George Town, North Side, West Bay

Independence

none (overseas territory of the UK)

National holiday

Constitution Day, the first Monday in July (1959)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest approved 10 June 2009, entered into force 6 November 2009 (The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009)

amendments: amended 2016, 2020

Legal system

English common law and local statutes

Citizenship

see United Kingdom

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Martyn ROPER (since 29 October 2018)

head of government: Premier Wayne PANTON (since 21 April 2021)

cabinet: Cabinet selected from the Parliament and appointed by the governor on the advice of the premier

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition appointed premier by the governor

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament (21 seats; 19 members directly elected by majority vote and 2 ex officio members - the deputy governor and attorney general - appointed by the governor; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 14 April 2021 (next to be held on 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party - independent 79.1%, PPM 19.6%; seats by party - independent 12, PPM 7

Judicial branch

highest courts: Court of Appeal (consists of the court president and at least 2 judges); Grand Court (consists of the court president and at least 2 judges); note - appeals beyond the Court of Appeal are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and Grand Court judges appointed by the governor on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, an 8-member independent body consisting of governor appointees, Court of Appeal president, and attorneys; Court of Appeal judges' tenure based on their individual instruments of appointment; Grand Court judges normally appointed until retirement at age 65 but can be extended until age 70

subordinate courts: Summary Court

Political parties and leaders

People's Progressive Movement or PPM [Alden MCLAUGHLIN]
Cayman Democratic Party or CDP [McKeeva BUSH]

International organization participation

Caricom (associate), CDB, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, UNESCO (associate), UPU

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (overseas territory of the UK); consular services provided through the US Embassy in Jamaica

Flag description

a blue field with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Caymanian coat of arms centered on the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms includes a crest with a pineapple, representing the connection with Jamaica, and a turtle, representing Cayman's seafaring tradition, above a shield bearing a golden lion, symbolizing Great Britain, below which are three green stars (representing the three islands) surmounting white and blue wavy lines representing the sea; a scroll below the shield bears the motto HE HATH FOUNDED IT UPON THE SEAS

National symbol(s)

green sea turtle

National anthem

name: Beloved Isle Cayman

lyrics/music: Leila E. ROSS

note: adopted 1993; served as an unofficial anthem since 1930; as a territory of the United Kingdom, in addition to the local anthem, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)

Economy

Economic overview

With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 65,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 2017, including more than 280 banks, 700 insurers, and 10,500 mutual funds. A stock exchange was opened in 1997. Nearly 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of Switzerland.

Tourism is also a mainstay, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is aimed at the luxury market and caters mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 2.1 million in 2016, with more than three-quarters from the US.

Real GDP growth rate

1.7% (2014 est.)

1.2% (2013 est.)

1.6% (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: Aa3 (1997)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$4.591 billion (2018 est.)

$4.409 billion (2017 est.)

$2.507 billion (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 181

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.25 billion (2008 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$71,549 (2018 est.)

$69,573 (2017 est.)

$43,800 (2004 est.)

country comparison to the world: 10

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 7.4% (2017 est.)

services: 92.3% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 62.3% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 14.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 22.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 65.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -64.2% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

vegetables, fruit; livestock; turtle farming

Industries

tourism, banking, insurance and finance, construction, construction materials, furniture

Labor force

39,000 (2007 est.)

note: nearly 55% are non-nationals

country comparison to the world: 196

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.9%

industry: 19.1%

services: 79% (2008 est.)

Budget

revenues: 874.5 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 766.6 million (2017 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

-$492.6 million (2017 est.)

-$493.5 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Exports

$421.9 million (2017 est.)

$47.6 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 181

Exports - partners

Netherlands 82%, Spain 11% (2019)

Exports - commodities

recreational boats, gold, broadcasting equipment, sulfates, collector's items (2019)

Imports

$787.3 million (2017 est.)

$810.1 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 191

Imports - partners

Netherlands 56%, United States 18%, Italy 8%, Switzerland 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

recreational boats, ships, gold, refined petroleum, cars (2019)

Exchange rates

Caymanian dollars (KYD) per US dollar -

0.82 (2017 est.)

0.82 (2016 est.)

0.82 (2015 est.)

0.82 (2014 est.)

0.83 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 6

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 33,338

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 54.85 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 168

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 92,691

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 152.5 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 194

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: reasonably good overall telephone system with a high fixed-line teledensity; given the high dependence of tourism and activities such as fisheries and offshore financial services, the telecom sector provides a relatively high contribution to overall GDP; good competition in all sectors promotes advancement in mobile telephony and data segments (2018)

domestic: introduction of competition in the mobile-cellular market in 2004 boosted subscriptions dramatically; 55 per 100 fixed-line, 153 per 100 mobile-cellular (2019)

international: country code - 1-345; landing points for the Maya-1, Deep Blue Cable, and the Cayman-Jamaica Fiber System submarine cables that provide links to the US and parts of Central and South America; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

4 TV stations; cable and satellite subscription services offer a variety of international programming; government-owned Radio Cayman operates 2 networks broadcasting on 5 stations; 10 privately owned radio stations operate alongside Radio Cayman

Internet users

total: 48,328

percent of population: 81.07% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 198

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 24,535

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 42 (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6

Airports - with paved runways

total: 3 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1 (2012)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)

Roadways

total: 785 km (2007)

paved: 785 km (2007)

country comparison to the world: 188

Merchant marine

total: 163

by type: bulk carrier 31, general cargo 3, oil tanker 23, other 106 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 71

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Cayman Brac, George Town

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Royal Cayman Islands Police Service

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK

Transnational Issues

Illicit drugs

major offshore financial center; vulnerable to drug transshipment to the US and Europe