The Turks & Caicos Islands form the southern tip of the Bahamas chain in the north of the Caribbean region. Their nearest neighbour to the south is the Dominican Republic.
The islands are low-lying and formed by coral reefs. The Caicos Islands are larger than the Turks.
The name Turks is said to come from a local species of cactus, the Turk’s head, with a scarlet top resembling a Turkish fez. The name Caicos may derive from ‘caya hico’, a phrase meaning ‘string of islands’ in the language of the indigenous Arawak people.
One third of the population is under 15 years old. Only 4% are 65 or older.
Each year the islands’ population is outnumbered ten times by tourists, attracted by the beautiful beaches and ocean resorts. Some of the beaches are powder-white.
This is a biodiversity hotspot. You’ll find lizard snakes which look like snakes, but are actually legless lizards.
You’ll hear ripsaw music on the Turks & Caicos Islands, made on a common hand saw and accompanied by drums, box guitar and concertina.
The national sport is cricket. Fishing, sailing and football are popular too.
The Turks & Caicos Islands made their debut at the Edmonton 1978 Commonwealth Games. The territory returned in 1998 and has competed ever since.
Fun fact: The flag of the Turks & Caicos Islands once depicted an igloo. This was caused by a map maker confusing piles of salt with these ice and snow structures.