Photos of Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands as seen from the space shuttle. In this view, the extensive shallow water areas of Caicos Bank (turquoise) dominate to the south of the Caicos Islands. Caicos Bank covers an area of 7,680 sq km (2,965 sq mi). The coral reefs of Caicos are primarily along the north deep water edge of the islands, and in a barrier to the south of the bank. East of Caicos Bank, near the tail of the shuttle, is the island of Grand Turk, part of the much smaller Turks Bank. The channel that runs between the two banks is more than 2,200 m (1.4 mi) deep. Image courtesy of NASA.

Introduction

Background

The islands were part of the UK's Jamaican colony until 1962, when they assumed the status of a separate Crown colony upon Jamaica's independence. The governor of The Bahamas oversaw affairs from 1965 to 1973. With Bahamian independence, the islands received a separate governor in 1973. Although independence was agreed upon for 1982, the policy was reversed, and the islands remain a British overseas territory. Grand Turk Island suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

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

Geography

Location

two island groups in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of The Bahamas, north of Haiti; note - although the Turks and Caicos Islands do not border the Caribbean Sea, geopolitically they are often designated as being Caribbean

Geographic coordinates

21 45 N, 71 35 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 948 sq km

land: 948 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 185

Area - comparative

2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

389 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; marine; moderated by trade winds; sunny and relatively dry

Terrain

low, flat limestone; extensive marshes and mangrove swamps

Elevation

highest point: Blue Hill on Providenciales and Flamingo Hill on East Caicos 48 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

Natural resources

spiny lobster, conch

Land use

agricultural land: 1.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 36.2% (2018 est.)

other: 62.7% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2022)

Population distribution

eight of the thirty islands are inhabited; the island of Providenciales is the most populated, but the most densely populated is Grand Turk

Natural hazards

frequent hurricanes

Geography - note

include eight large islands and numerous smaller cays, islets, and reefs; only two of the Caicos Islands and six of the Turks group are inhabited

People and Society

Population

total: 60,439

male: 30,389

female: 30,050 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 205; male 205; total 205

Nationality

noun: none

adjective: none

Ethnic groups

Black 87.6%, White 7.9%, mixed 2.5%, East Indian 1.3%, other 0.7% (2006 est.)

Languages

English (official)

Religions

Protestant 72.8% (Baptist 35.8%, Church of God 11.7%, Anglican 10%, Methodist 9.3%, Seventh Day Adventist 6%), Roman Catholic 11.4%, Jehovah's Witness 1.8%, other 14% (2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.4% (male 6,288/female 6,056)

15-64 years: 73.2% (male 22,232/female 22,011)

65 years and over: 6.4% (2024 est.) (male 1,869/female 1,983)

2023 population growth:
2023 population growth

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 36.8

youth dependency ratio: 22.9

elderly dependency ratio: 13.9

potential support ratio: 7.2 (2021)

Median age

total: 36.3 years (2024 est.)

male: 36.5 years

female: 36.1 years

comparison ranking: total 93

Population growth rate

1.77% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 49

Birth rate

13 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 133

Death rate

3.6 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 219

Net migration rate

8.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 10

Population distribution

eight of the thirty islands are inhabited; the island of Providenciales is the most populated, but the most densely populated is Grand Turk

Urbanization

urban population: 94.2% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.46% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

5,000 GRAND TURK (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 13.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 8.1 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 122

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81.3 years (2024 est.)

male: 78.5 years

female: 84.1 years

comparison ranking: total population 44

Total fertility rate

1.7 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 164

Gross reproduction rate

0.83 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: total: 94.3% of population

unimproved: total: 5.7% of population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 88% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 12% of population (2017)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

0.4% (2019/20) NA

comparison ranking: 123

Child marriage

women married by age 18: 23.3%

men married by age 18: 5.1% (2020 est.)

Education expenditures

4.5% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 99

Literacy

total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years

male: NA

female: (2015) NA

People - note

destination and transit point for illegal Haitian immigrants bound for the Bahamas and the US

Environment

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources, private cisterns collect rainwater

Climate

tropical; marine; moderated by trade winds; sunny and relatively dry

Land use

agricultural land: 1.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 36.2% (2018 est.)

other: 62.7% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 94.2% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.46% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 166

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 186

Air pollutants

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.22 megatons (2016 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Turks and Caicos Islands

abbreviation: TCI

etymology: the Turks Islands are named after the Turk's cap cactus (native to the islands and appearing on the flag and coat of arms), while the Caicos Islands derive from the native term "caya hico" meaning "string of islands"

Government type

parliamentary democracy

Dependency status

overseas territory of the UK

Capital

name: Grand Turk (Cockburn Town)

geographic coordinates: 21 28 N, 71 08 W

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

etymology: named after Sir Francis COCKBURN, who served as governor of the Bahamas from 1837 to 1844

Administrative divisions

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Independence

none (overseas territory of the UK)

National holiday

Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, usually celebrated the Monday after the second Saturday in June

Constitution

history: several previous; latest signed 7 August 2012, effective 15 October 2012 (The Turks and Caicos Constitution Order 2011)

amendments: NA

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law and civil law

Citizenship

see United Kingdom

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Governor Dileeni Daniel-SELVARATNAM (since 29 June 2023)

head of government: Premier Washington MISICK (since 19 February 2021)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor from among members of the House of Assembly

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

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Assembly (21 seats; 15 members in multi-seat constituencies and a single all-islands constituency directly elected by simple majority vote, 1 member nominated by the premier and appointed by the governor, 1 nominated by the opposition party leader and appointed by the governor, and 2 from the Turks and Caicos Islands Civic Society directly appointed by the governor, and 2 ex-officio members; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 19 February 2021 (next to be held in 2025)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - PNP 14, PDM 1; composition - men 11, women 3, percentage women 27.3%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and other judges, as determined by the governor); Court of Appeal (consists of the court president and 2 justices); note - appeals beyond the Supreme Court are referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court and Appeals Court judges appointed by the governor in accordance with the Judicial Service Commission, a 3-member body of high-level judicial officials; Supreme Court judges serve until mandatory retirement at age 65, but terms can be extended to age 70; Appeals Court judge tenure determined by individual terms of appointment

subordinate courts: magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

People's Democratic Movement or PDM [Edwin ASTWOOD]
Progressive National Party or PNP [Washington MISICK]

International organization participation

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

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (overseas territory of the UK)

Flag description

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the colonial shield centered on the outer half of the flag; the shield is yellow and displays a conch shell, a spiny lobster, and Turk's cap cactus - three common elements of the islands' biota

National symbol(s)

conch shell, Turk's cap cactus

National anthem

name: "This Land of Ours"

lyrics/music: Conrad HOWELL

note: serves as a local anthem; as an overseas territory of the UK, "God Save the King" is the official anthem (see United Kingdom)

Economy

Economic overview

British Caribbean island territorial economy; GDP and its tourism industry hit hard by COVID-19 disruptions; major biodiversity locale; US dollar user; fossil fuel dependent; negative trade balance; increasing unemployment

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$946.893 million (2022 est.)
$891.613 million (2021 est.)
$817.993 million (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 207

Real GDP growth rate

6.2% (2022 est.)
9% (2021 est.)
-26.78% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 55

Real GDP per capita

$20,700 (2022 est.)
$19,800 (2021 est.)
$18,500 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 92

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.139 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

4% (2017 est.)
0.7% (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 57

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 8.9% (2017 est.)

services: 90.6% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 8; industry 209; agriculture 209

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 49% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 21.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 16.5% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 69.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -56.4% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

corn, beans, cassava (manioc, tapioca), citrus fruits; fish

Industries

tourism, offshore financial services

Industrial production growth rate

5% (2021 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 60

Remittances

0% of GDP (2022 est.)
0% of GDP (2021 est.)
0% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $247.3 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: $224.3 million (2017 est.)

Current account balance

$172.709 million (2018 est.)
$35.016 million (2017 est.)
$247.081 million (2016 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 57

Exports

$826.824 million (2018 est.)
$602.581 million (2017 est.)
$741.173 million (2016 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 185

Exports - partners

Togo 61%, US 13%, Zimbabwe 6%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 3%, Central African Republic 2% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

fertilizers, shellfish, plastics, sulfur, soybean oil (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$544.219 million (2018 est.)
$484.842 million (2017 est.)
$438.041 million (2016 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 199

Imports - partners

US 75%, Dominican Republic 6%, Italy 3%, Switzerland 2%, China 2% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, plastic products, furniture, aluminum structures (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 85,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 231.618 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 12.5 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: imports 131; exports 112; installed generating capacity 187; transmission/distribution losses 23; consumption 184

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 100% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 1,600 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 202

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 148

Refined petroleum products - imports

1,369 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 196

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

245,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 245,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 200

Energy consumption per capita

0 Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 199

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 4,000 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 208

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 25,085 (2004 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 110 (2004 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 213

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: is connected to the internet via a single submarine fiber-optic cable (Arcos-1), which links the US and several Caribbean countries (2023)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity is 9 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 1-649; landing point for the ARCOS fiber-optic telecommunications submarine cable providing connectivity to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2020)

Broadcast media

no local terrestrial TV stations, broadcasts from the Bahamas can be received and multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; government-run radio network operates alongside private broadcasters with a total of about 15 stations

Internet users

total: 37,008 (2022)

percent of population: 93.5% (2022)

comparison ranking: total 207

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 22

Airports

9 (2024)

comparison ranking: 163

Roadways

total: 121 km

paved: 24 km

unpaved: 97 km (2003)

comparison ranking: total 213

Merchant marine

total: 3 (2023)

by type: general cargo 1, other 2

comparison ranking: total 174

Ports

total ports: 3 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 0

small: 0

very small: 2

size unknown: 1

ports with oil terminals: 1

key ports: Cockburn Harbor, Grand Turk, Providenciales

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK

Transnational Issues

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe