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Turks and Caicos Islands

Photos of Turks and Caicos Islands

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 on 22 September 2017 resulting in loss of power and communications as well as damage to housing and businesses.

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

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

country comparison to the world: 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

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

highest point: Blue Hill on Providenciales and Flamingo Hill on East Caicos 48 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 (2012)

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

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: 21.33% (male 6,077/female 5,852)

15-24 years: 13.19% (male 3,689/female 3,687)

25-54 years: 52.51% (male 14,729/female 14,637)

55-64 years: 7.81% (male 2,297/female 2,069)

65 years and over: 5.17% (male 1,364/female 1,525) (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 34.6 years

male: 34.9 years

female: 34.4 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Birth rate

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

country comparison to the world: 134

Death rate

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

country comparison to the world: 220

Net migration rate

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

country comparison to the world: 9

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: 93.6% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 1.77% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

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

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

25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.11 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.87 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 14.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 8.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 80.6 years

male: 77.84 years

female: 83.51 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

Drinking water source

improved: total: 94.3% of population

unimproved: total: 5.7% of population (2017 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 88% of population

unimproved: total: 12% of population (2017)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years

male: NA

female: NA (2015)

People - note

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

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"

Dependency status

overseas territory of the UK

Government type

parliamentary democracy

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: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Nigel DAKIN (since 15 July 2019)

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 (preliminary) - PNP 56.2%, PDM 39%, other 4.8%; seats by party - PNP 14, PDM 1; composition (of elected members) - men 12, women 3; percent of women 20%

Judicial branch

highest courts: 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 [Sean 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 a territory of the UK, "God Save the Queen" is the official anthem (see United Kingdom)

Economy

Economic overview

The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, offshore financial services, and fishing. Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported. The US is the leading source of tourists, accounting for more than three-quarters of the more than 1 million visitors that arrive annually. Three-quarters of the visitors come by ship. Major sources of government revenue also include fees from offshore financial activities and customs receipts.

Real GDP growth rate

5.3% (2018 est.)

4.3% (2017 est.)

4.4% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.117 billion (2019 est.)

$1.06 billion (2018 est.)

$1.004 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 207

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.02 billion (2018 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$29,253 (2019 est.)

$28,162 (2018 est.)

$27,061 (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 8.9% (2017 est.)

services: 90.6% (2017 est.)

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

Labor force - by occupation

note: about 33% in government and 20% in agriculture and fishing; significant numbers in tourism, financial, and other services

Budget

revenues: 247.3 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 224.3 million (2017 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Exports - commodities

plastic building materials, stone processing machinery, iron structures, crustaceans, integrated circuits (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, jewelry, furniture, soybeans (2019)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

Exports - partners

France 31%, United States 16%, Zambia 13%, Singapore 9%, Republic of the Congo 8% (2019)

Imports - partners

United States 76% (2019)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 22

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 6,096

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11.12 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 203

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: fully digital system with international direct dialing; broadband access; expanded FttP (Fiber to the Home) markets; LTE expansion points to investment and focus on data; regulatory development; telecommunication contributes to greatly to GDP (2020)

domestic: full range of services available; GSM wireless service available; fixed-line teledensity 11 per 100 persons (2019)

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)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

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

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 22

Airports - with paved runways

total: 6 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 2 (2013)

under 914 m: 2 (2013)

Roadways

total: 121 km (2003)

paved: 24 km (2003)

unpaved: 97 km (2003)

country comparison to the world: 212

Merchant marine

total: 3

by type: general cargo 1, other 2 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 173

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Cockburn Harbour, Grand Turk, Providenciales

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

have received Haitians fleeing economic and civil disorder

Illicit drugs

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