Brief Government Information
Although the Cayman Islands is a colony of the British Crown, we have a very democratic and locally elected government. Every four years the residents of the Caymans go to the polls to elect 15 members. Along with the 15 elected members, 3 others appointed by the Governor will make up the Legislative Council. The Executive Council (Cabinet) is comprised of 5 from the elected body and the 3 appointees.
The Executive Council is responsible for the day-to-day operations of running a government. A deputy Governor and a Speaker of The House are appointed to preside over the Assembly. The Governor is appointed by the Queen.
1503 - Christopher Columbus noticed when he first arrived that the islands were surrounded by turtles, thus he named them "Las Tortugas."
1530 - The name "Caymanas" was used, derived from the Caribe word for crocodile because crocodiles now inhabited the island. The pronunciation over the years has changed to our current name "Cayman."
1670 - England reigned sovereign over the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, which were formerly under Spanish rule.
1700 - A few families started to call the islands their permanent home. Some names you will recognize today.
1773 - The Royal Navy surveyed the first map of the islands. The population was about 400 residents, half slaves and half free.
1790 - Fort George was constructed to defend our shores from attack.
1794 - Many ships ran aground at East End. The tale of this event is known as "The Wreck of The Ten Sail."
1830 - The first missionaries arrived and began construction on a church in George Town.
1831 - Elections were held and the first legislation was passed. The population was about 2,000.
1835 - The Emancipation Act of 1833 declared all slaves to be freed and therefore they were released in accordance with such law.
1920 - Schools in all districts were mandatory by law.
1937 - The beginning of tourism as the first cruise ship, The Atlantis, visits the islands.
1939 - To 1945 The Caymanians formed a "Home Guard" during WWII.
1943 - The USA set up a Navy Coast Guard patrol base.
1950 - Hotel construction started on Seven Mile Beach.
1953 - The first airstrip opened in Grand Cayman.
1959 - The first written constitution granted women the vote.
1962 - The Cayman Islands choose to remain a British Crown colony.
1966 - Major banking legislation introduced.
1972 - A new constitution is adopted for Grand Cayman.
Holidays and Events in Cayman
When traveling to The Cayman Islands be aware of the holidays because stores and banks are closed on these days and you certainly do not want to be caught short of cash or supplies.
Pirate's Week is a weeklong celebration in the last part of October. This event is a celebration of the past enjoyed by tourists and locals of the present. Pirate's Week was conceived in 1978. Most people dress in pirate's attire and mingle with the local community at events such as parades, street dances, cultural events and parties.
An International Fishing Tournament starts in mid April and goes on for a little more than a week. Batabano is a weeklong Caribbean festival usually held a few weeks after Easter. Taste of Cayman takes the stage in summer where over 50 restaurants show off their culinary skills. In December, the traditional house and tree decorating, caroling and Parade of Lights, on the boats, in the harbor certainly make you aware of the season. Through out the year many, many community events take place. Be sure to check your vacation calendar to see what may fit in with our island agenda.
A few Immigrations and Customs facts
Entry requirements to the islands require visitors to have a valid passport / citizenship with photo I.D. and a return airline ticket. Upon your entry, you will be asked to fill out an immigration form. Please remember to keep the pink copy, which is your travel document and you will be asked for it prior to your departure.
Persons wanting to become permanent residents will have to apply to the Cayman Islands Immigration Department.
When returning to your country, after visiting The Cayman Islands, be sure you are aware of the duty free amount you are allowed to bring back Americans can take back US0 and 10% on the next ,000 worth. If Canadians have been outside the country for 7 days or more they can take CN0 exempt, if less than 7 days CN0. Britons can take back 136 pounds worth of merchandise.
English is spoken on all three islands. The dialect of Caymanians is somewhat of a mixture of American southern drawl, English slur with a Scottish lilt to punctuate.
Getting Married in Cayman
There is no more romantic place to be wed than right here in The Cayman Islands. It is a simple process and can arranged by contacting a marriage officer, within The Cayman Islands, who will apply for a special marriage license granted by the Governor. More than 500 couples yearly, take their legal vows on one of our three islands. Your host property can make the arrangements.
Cayman Medical Facilities
Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac have a full complement of modern medical facilities, including government run hospitals. Private medical centers are in Grand Cayman with a 911 emergency service. Medivac services to the U.S.A. can be arranged when necessary. Vaccinations are not mandatory.
In the latest census, the population was about 41,000, of which 22,000 are Caymanian residents and 19,000 expatriates. The ex-pats, as they are referred to, apply for yearly work permits giving them the right to legally work on the Islands.
The islands lie in the trade wind belt. The prevailing NE winds moderate the temperatures, making the climate year round quite pleasant. The winter season averages 82 degrees, the fall and spring 86 and the summer 90 degrees. May and October are the rainiest months and March and April, the driest.
The Cayman Islands is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-5).
Cayman Islands does not operate Daylight saving Time.
Yes, it is very safe to drink the water everywhere on the islands. Most of the water is processed through desalination and the rest comes from fresh water wells.
Legal Drinking Age
The legal age for alcohol consumption is a minimum of 18 years old. It is a serious offense to drink and drive. The legal limit is under .01.
Cayman Fashion and Dressing
Cayman Islands law prohibits all forms of public nudity, including topless sunbathing. It is also requested to wear a shirt or beach cover-up when you leave the beach and are exploring the streets.
Casual wear will get you into any restaurant. Jacket and tie are only required at formal functions or some fund raising events.