Ten Things to Know
About the Turks & Caicos

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Ten Things To Know
About the Turks and Caicos Islands

1) Located just south of the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos technically are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea.
That means winter weather frequently is impacted by the same cold fronts that bring cold temperatures and excessive winds to Florida and the Bahamas.

2) Names for the island chain are said to come from the indigenous islanders, although I find it doubtful that the word "Turk" really originated from either the Tainos or Lucayans. Turks is a reference to the indigenous Turk’s head cactus with its cylindrical red cap, and there a bunch of them all over the island.

But how could the indigenous people ever have become familiar with the red fez that originated in the city of Fes, Morocco, and once popular in the nation of Turkey? In any case, the Turk's head cactus is part of the T&C's national flag, as it deserves to be. Caicos is from the Lucayan term “caya hico” meaning string of islands.

3) Local currency is the U.S. dollar. Credit cards are accepted on Providenciales but not so much on Grand Turk.

4) Annual rainfall is 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos but can increase to as much as 40 inches on Provo.

5) Turks & Caicos Islanders are mostly descendants of Africans brought in to work the salt pans or the cotton plantations. People born in the islands are known as "belongers" and traditionally have enjoyed privileges not available to immigrants.

6) To preserve its unspoiled environment, the Turks and Caicos had established a larger percentage of national parks and protected areas than any other nation in the world.

7) The Turks and Caicos have a strict policy about how long visitors can stay: up to 30 consecutive days, a period renewable one time only. Anyone staying less than 30 days can visit as often as they wish as long as they always have a round-trip ticket.

8) Some pink and white buildings in Cockburn Town on Grand Turk look like they would be more at home in Bermuda. Well, in 1681, salt collectors from Bermuda came to Turks & Caicos to rake the salt and take it back to Bermuda. They built the T&C's first permanent settlement on Grand Turk. Salt was a precious commodity for flavoring food and preserving it.  T&C salt was taken as far north as Newfoundland where it was used for preserving cod.

9) Some Turks & Caicos scholars believe Christopher Columbus' first landing in the New World took place on Guanahani Beach, Grand Turk. A plaque on the beach today commemorates the event.

10) Even though the location of Columbus' landing is still controversial, John Glenn--the first American astronaut to orbit the earth (three times) in the capsule known as Friendship 7--indisputedly first stepped onto land at Grand Turk Island after his splashdown.

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