Turks and Caicos: 5 Things You May Not Know

January 30, 2012 by

Things To Do, Top Attractions, Travel Tips

Turks Cap Cactus. Photo courtesy of ellenm1 via Flickr.

Turks Cap Cactus. Photo courtesy of ellenm1 via Flickr.

1. Where the name comes from: “Turks” refers to the Turk’s Cap Cactus (yes, that’s a green cactus that looks like it’s wearing a red fez). “Caicos” comes from the phrase “caya hico,” which means “a string of islands” in the language of the Lucayan natives, who inhabited the island until shortly after the time Christopher’s ships showed up.

2. Interesting Industry:  T&C is home to the only commercial conch farm in the world. If you can’t picture what a conch looks like, imagine a cross between a shell you can blow into like a whistle and the decorative pink shell your grandmother has in her guest bathroom. As far as edible snails go, the escargot is the only kind that surpasses these bad boys in popularity.

3. Economics: It was the fastest growing economy in the Caribbean for a bunch of years in the early 2000’s, but recently there were some alleged scandals in the way the government handled its moolah. The Brits appointed a “Commission of Enquiry” to see if anything naughty and/or corrupt was going on which, according to them, it turned out there was.

The self-government rights of T&C were suspended, and a brisk game of musical chairs occurred in positions of power. (Side note: there is a “zero tax” jurisdiction policy on the island. That means it’s a ‘tax haven’ – inheritance, income, estate… nada.)

4. Population: Of the 30 islands, only eight of them have residents, and one out of three of them are under the age of fifteen!

5. Space Age Party: The first American to orbit the Earth, former WWII fighter pilot John Glenn, made his “splashdown” as they say (when a shuttle parachutes into the ocean) just east of the islands in February of 1962. A party was thrown on Grand Turk, the capital island, and even Lyndon B. Johnson – the U.S. Vice President at the time – showed up for the festivities. A more detailed rendition of the story can be found at the Turks & Caicos National Museum.

- Natalie Grant

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