Grand Turk

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Mon 14 Mar 2011 23:57
The Turks Islands


The Turks Islands are separated from the Caicos Islands by Turks Island Passage which is more than seven thousand, two hundred feet deep; the islands form a chain that stretches north to south. Grand Turk and Salt Cay are the only inhabited islands of the group, with an estimated population of 5,753. Grand Turk (the capital of the territory is six point seven one square miles, population 5,567). Salt Cay is two point six square miles, population 186). Turks Bank (which is smaller than Caicos Bank), has a total area of one hundred and twenty five square miles.




The Turks and Caicos Islands - abbreviated TCI are a British Overseas Territory consisting of two groups of tropical islands in the West Indies, the larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands, known for tourism and as an offshore financial centre. The Turks and Caicos Islands lie southeast of Mayaguana in the Bahamas and north of the island of Hispaniola. Cockburn Town, the capital, is situated about six hundred and forty seven miles east-southeast of Miami. The islands have a total land area of one hundred and seventy square miles. The islands are geographically contiguous to the Bahamas, but are politically a separate entity. The total population is about 36,000, of whom approximately 22,500 live on Providenciales in the Caicos Islands. Cockburn Town, the capital, is on Grand Turk Island. The national flag features the lobster, the conch and the cactus.



History: It is thought that Sir William Phipps named the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1687 after the indigenous Turk's Head "fez" cactus (Melocactus communis), and the Lucayan term "caya hico", meaning string of islands. The first inhabitants of the islands were Arawakan-speaking Taino people who crossed over from Hispaniola sometime from 500 to 800. Together with Tainos who crossed over from Cuba to the southern Bahamas around the same time, these people became the Lucayans. Around 1200 the Turks and Caicos Islands were resettled by Classical Taínos from Hispaniola. Soon after they arrived in the islands in 1492, the Spanish began capturing the Taínos of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Lucayans as slaves to replace the largely depleted native population of Hispaniola. The southern Bahama Islands, including the Turks and Caicos Islands, were completely depopulated by about 1513, and remained so until the 17th century. The first documented European to sight the islands was Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León, who did so in 1512. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the islands passed from Spanish, to French, to British control, but none of the three powers ever established any settlements.



By 1713, there were an estimated one thousand active pirates operating in the waters of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos. Some names using these pirate hideouts include: Anne Bonney, Mary Read, Calico Jack Rackham, Stede Bonnet the Gentleman Pirate, Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane, Captain Kidd, L'Olonnois and Edward Teach aka Blackbeard were frequent visitors. Bermudian salt collectors settled the Turk Islands around 1680. In 1765–1783 they were under French occupation and again after the French captured the archipelago in 1783. After the American Revolution (1775–1783) many loyalists fled to Caribbean colonies, including (in 1783) the first settlers on the Caicos Islands; cotton became an important crop briefly. In 1799, both the Turks and the Caicos island groups were annexed by Britain as part of the Bahamas.



In 1841 the Trouvadore, a Spanish ship engaged in the slave trade, wrecked off the coast of East Caicos, one of the larger Caicos Islands. One hundred and ninety-two captive Africans survived the sinking and made it to shore where, under British rule, the slave trade was illegal. These survivors were apprenticed to trades for one year then settled mostly on Grand Turk Island. An 1878 letter documents the "Trouvadore Africans" and their descendants as constituting an essential part of the "labouring population" on the islands. In 2004 marine archaeologists rediscovered a wreck, called the "Black Rock Ship", that subsequent research has suggested may be that of the Trouvadore. This suggestion was further supported when a marine archaeology expedition funded by NOAA in November 2008 confirmed that the wreck comprises artifacts of which the style and date of manufacture support the association of this wreck with that of the Trouvadore. The wreckage has, however, not been identified with absolute certainty.




The Grand Turk - better known to most of us as the "Ship on the Old Spice bottles"




John Glenn, Apollo Astronaut splashed down in these waters and came in by helicopter. A replica space landing craft stands at the airport entrance.