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, but when the Federation dissolved in 1962, the Cayman Islands chose to remain a British dependency.
Country Profile for Cayman Islands
With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 40,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 1998, including almost 600 banks and trust companies; banking assets exceed $500 billion. A stock exchange was opened in 1997. 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 1.2 million in 1997, with 600,000 from the US. About 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy one of the highest outputs per capita and one of the highest standards of living in the world.
Caymanian natural resources include fish, climate and beaches that foster tourism
important location between Cuba and Central America
Caymanian religion is United Church (Presbyterian and Congregational), Anglican, Baptist, Church of God, other Protestant, Roman Catholic.
Natural hazards in Cayman Islands include hurricanes (July to November).
Travel Advice for Cayman Islands
This advice has been reviewed and reissued. The overall level of the advice has not changed.
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory. There is no formal British diplomatic or consular representation in the Cayman Islands and the local authorities deal with all requests for consular assistance. The General section of this Travel Advice gives you more information about this.
The hurricane season in the Cayman Islands runs from June to November. Please see the Natural Disasters section of the Travel Advice and Hurricanes for more information.
The threat from terrorism is low. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
The only form of local public transport are minibuses which are safe to use but run only on the main routes. For other journeys, taxis are readily available or you can hire a car. If hiring a vehicle, remember to drive on the left, as in the UK. Observe the speed limits, wear your seat belt at all times and do not drink and drive.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
There are harsh penalties for those caught with drugs of any kind. A number of British nationals have been arrested in the past, attempting to smuggle marijuana on British Airways flights to London. As a consequence, these flights are still being closely monitored by the local customs authorities.
You should observe the customs regulations on the importation and exportation of agricultural products and the protection of marine and animal life. There are a number of marine and animal specimens that may not be taken from the islands. If in doubt, please check with the customs office prior to the purchase, importation or exportation of such items.
For those returning to the UK, please observe the UK Customs rules on the illegal importation of meat and animal products.
A full British passport of at least six months validity is required for all British nationals visiting the Cayman Islands. But as the islands are a British Overseas Territory, no prior entry visa is required.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Entry requirements for other nationalities can be found at the following link: http://www.gov.ky/.
There is no National Health Service in the Cayman Islands and even the most remedial medical treatment is expensive. We strongly advise you to take out adequate travel and medical insurance before travelling. This must cover air ambulance and third country (USA) medical treatment. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance
There is a relatively new and well-equipped hospital on Grand Cayman in the capital George Town and a smaller facility, Faith Hospital, on Cayman Brac, which can cope with most routine medical and dental problems. More serious cases will normally be stabilised here before being transferred to Miami.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk
The hurricane season in the Cayman Islands normally runs from June to November. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation. You can also access the http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ for updates. Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.
For more information on the British humanitarian response to Hurricane Ivan please check the following website: British humanitarian response.
The Cayman Islands has also experienced earthquakes in recent years. The largest, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale and with an epicentre 20 miles south-southeast of the capital George Town, struck the Cayman Islands on 14 December but caused no serious damage or injuries. Smaller aftershocks were experienced: the largest of those, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, was on 21 December 2004.
If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory in which there is no formal British Diplomatic or Consular Representation.
The Governor’s Office will assist British nationals in cases of genuine emergency wherever possible, but you should be aware that the full range of Consular Services offered by a Diplomatic or Consular mission cannot be provided. You should note in particular that British Passports cannot be renewed or replaced here. In a genuine emergency, the Cayman Islands Passport Office may be able to issue an Emergency Passport. Residents of the Cayman Islands who require the renewal of a British passport should visit the Cayman Islands Passport Office, Elgin Avenue, George Town. You should note that the turnaround time for routine passport renewals and first issues through the Cayman Islands Passport Office is 6-8 weeks. For all other Consular services and visa enquiries, you should contact the British High Commission in Kingston, Jamaica at the address shown below.
British High Commission
PO Box 575
28 Trafalgar Road
Tel: 00 1 876 510 0700
Fax: 00 1 876 510 0738
Office Hours: GMT:
Mon-Thurs 1300-1800 & 1900-2130
Since 11 September 2001, all airlines require earlier check-in times for passengers and luggage. Both hold-loaded and carry-on luggage is subject to being hand-searched. You should allow extra time at the airport and should check with the individual airline on the recommended check-in time for your flight.
All major credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and local shops. The local currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar (CI$) however the US dollar is widely accepted throughout the islands. The CI$ is fixed to the US dollar at $1.25 US Dollars equals $1.00 Cayman Island Dollar.