The Turks and Caicos is an island country situated in the extreme south-east of the Bahama archipelago. It occupies an area of only 430 square kilometres and consists of over 300 islands, 8 of which are larger and populated. The islands have limestone origin and insignificant elevation. The highest point of the islands is Blue Hills with an altitude of only 49 meters.
The islands are located south-east of Florida and together with the Bahamas are not considered part of the Caribbean. However, when it comes to culture and history, the islands should always be considered a part of the Caribbean.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are divided into two groups (as the name indicates). The Caicos Islands have much larger territory. They include West Caicos, Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, South Caicos and East Caicos.
The largest in the Turks Islands are Grand Turks and Salt Cay. The Turks Islands are separated from the Caicos Islands through the strait of Caicos. The Turks and Caicos Islands have the status of British Overseas Territory and Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State.
Population. The Turks and Caicos Islands have a population of about 45,000 people. The majority of residents are black. Very few of them (only about 10%) consist of Europeans, Creoles and other ethnic groups.
The island’s capital is Cockburn Town, and the largest city Providenciales has a population of 30,000 inhabitants, or around two thirds of the total population.
The majority of residents are Christian and speak English and Creole, which is very popular in the region of Central America and the Caribbean.
Economy. To meet the needs of local people, this island country imports almost everything – food, clothing, medicines, vehicles, machines and technical equipment.
However the population of the Turks and Caicos has a good standard of living. The main source of income is tourism industry. The number of tourists who arrive here each year exceeds several times the number of local residents.
Moreover, similar to the Cayman Islands and many other countries in the region, the Turks and Caicos are well known financial center.
Cuisine. The waters around the Turks and Caicos are the greatest wealth of this country. What Atlantic offers on the table is an essential part of the diet of local residents. Fish, crabs, shrimps, mussels and other seafood are consumed practically every day.
If you want to combine seafood with traditional garnish, then you should choose beans, peas or rice. Although rice has never grown on the islands, it is an extremely important part of local residents menu.
Polenta and corn bread are also among the most consumed foods in the Turks and Caicos. The most popular fruits on the islands are coconuts and citruses.
Climate. The Turks and Caicos Islands fall entirely south of the northern tropical line (the Tropic of Cancer) and have pleasant tropical-passat climate. It is characterized by year-round warm, dry and cloudless weather.
Winter temperatures are extremely pleasant – about 26°C and summers are around 30°C. The Atlantic Ocean protects this country from very high temperatures, but not from drought.
Scarce precipitation to about 80 – 100 mm occurs mainly during the autumn months. The hurricane season in the Turks and Caicos lasts from June to November when the ocean temperature reaches and exceeds 30°C.
Nature. Due to their predominantly dry weather, the Turks and Caicos Islands are covered with scanty vegetation and therefore often can be difficult to find shade during the midday hours.
Local plants usually have a shallow root system, as the fertile layer of soil is quite shallow. Native plant species are characterized also by lower height (at least most of them). Here grow coconut palms and some dry-loving flowers and shrubs.
More abundant greenness there is around the numerous swamps. Beautiful extensive mangrove forests stretch along the coast. The islands have insignificant water resources.
A distinctive feature of the Turks and Caicos Islands is their surprisingly beautiful beaches with fine white sand with gentle pink nuances. Ocean waters are very transparent and the underwater visibility exceeds 30 meters.
Bathed in warm tropical sun, the clear shallow waters have provided perfect conditions for the development of beautiful coral reefs. Local fauna is represented mainly by different species of birds and sea creatures.
Among the mangrove forests on the island live such beautiful birds as the graceful, pink flamingo. Here you can find also some endemics such as the rock iguana, which inhabit only the islands of Turks and Caicos.
Nowadays this amazing animal is spread mainly on the uninhabited islands. The reason is that there are no domestic dogs and other large animals that could pose a threat to them.
The rock iguana can often be seen to lounge under the morning or late afternoon sun, while during the hottest hours it seeks shelter from the scorching sun in niches and holes into the rocks.
When to visit the Turks and Caicos Islands? The best time to visit the Turks and Caicos is during the period from December to March, since then the weather conditions are most favorable. This part of the year is driest and temperatures are lowest.
What clothes should I wear? No matter what time of year you visit the islands of Turks and Caicos, you need only thin and airy summer clothes. Nights are also very warm.
Bring light and open shoes but also other shoes suitable for hiking in the event that you want to tour and explore the rural areas (which is recommended!). Bring your swimsuit, sunscreen and sunglasses. We recommend you also to find a camera for underwater photography – it is worth doing!
Driving. Since the territory of the Turks and Caicos is really quite small, you can explore the islands just in few days. Therefore car rental can be quite a good solution. Note however, that in the Turks and Caicos Islands you have to drive on the left side of the road (as it is in Britain).
Payment. Official currency and legal tender of the Turks and Caicos Islands is the U.S. dollar. Almost everywhere you can pay also by credit card.
What kind of tourist travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands? The Turks and Caicos are suitable for people looking for tranquillity and those who want to avoid the large crowds of tourists.
Many beaches remain deserted practically throughout the year. There are numerous restaurants that are also charming and unpretentious. This is the perfect destination for the seafood lovers and offer great opportunities for diving.
The islands are also suitable for lovers of luxury. Not far from North Caicos there is a small private island turned into a luxury resort. The location is perfect for anyone wanting to escape civilization without denying the necessary modern amenities.