A Brief History Of The Cayman Islands


Officially discovered about 300 years ago by Christopher Columbus, the Cayman Islands have been inhabited by Caimans, sailors, and slaves throughout their 500-year history.┬áIt is widely believed that the first inhabitants were Sir Francis Drake’s sailors from his expedition in 1585. The economy was widely sustained through turtle hunting, fishing, and woodcutting.


Technically part of Jamaican territory, the English laid claim to the Cayman Islands when they captured Jamaica in 1655. In 1670, The Islands were officially recognized as a British territory possessed by Spain. In the first 200 years of settlement, the Islands were mostly isolated and left to govern themselves.

The three islands that comprise the Cayman Islands are known as Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. They are located in the Carribean Sea about 200 miles from Jamaica.


Through slavery, emancipation, and various immigration waves of sailors from other countries, the Cayman Islands’ culture is widely diverse. The inhabitants used local ingredients like coral, fish skins, and Washwood plants to make everyday items. They were resourceful out of necessity and isolation.

Many inhabitants left the Islands In the nineteenth century to look for jobs. They went to Nicaragua, Honduras, and the southern United States. After the Second World War, many of the locals went to work on oil tankers and other ships.


The World Travel Guide explains that inhabitants of the Cayman Islands retain the right to eat the turtles that live there, based on the historical name of the island “Tortugas” which means “turtles” granted by Columbus and his crew.

The main religion practiced in the Cayman Islands is Christianity. The culture is mainly conservative. English is the main language spoken on the islands, with some Jamaican Patois and Spanish in certain areas.

Economy and Government

Today, the islands’ economies are sustained widely by tourism. Sporadic financial troubles have caused the Islands to remain part of the UK. They have their own governors appointed by Britain. A deputy governor helps the governor and that person must be Caymanian. The Islands have a small Legislative Assembly as well.

The Islands had no political parties for most of their history. Towns typically governed themselves until recent scrutiny from the U.K. emerged. Today, there are two main political parties: the United Democratic Party and the People’s Progressive Movement.

Learn more about the Cayman Islands during a vacation to this popular destination. Stay with The Residences Seven Mile Beach to fully immerse yourself in this culturally rich and beautiful destination.

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