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What Should I Know about Turks and Caicos Islands?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2014
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The Turks and Caicos Islands, also known as TCI, is a group of islands situated in the West Indies. They have a total surface of 161 sq mi (417 square km), which makes the territory one of the smallest in the world. The islands have a total population of 32,000, with a very small percentage living in the capital, Cockburn Town.

There are 28 islands in this territory, with only eight of them having a surface big enough to be inhabited. The Turks Islands, where the capital is located, are the smallest of all groups. The Caicos Islands take the major part of the total surface and are home to the largest city in the territory, Providenciales. This city has a population of over 20,000, an international airport, a national museum, and major shopping stores.

The Turks and Caicos Islands gained independence from the Federation of the West Indies in 1973, although they remain a non-sovereign territory of Britain, with Queen Elizabeth II being recognized as head of state, at least in name. The islands have a governor and their own premier (prime minister), who oversee the political and economic needs of the territory. The official language is English, and most people practice Protestantism.

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The main economic engine of the islands is tourism. Almost 1000,000 foreigners visit every year, a large percentage of which come from the United States. This may be due in part to the fact that the official currency of the island is the US Dollar, which makes it easier to pair the local economy with that of the US. Offshore financial services also provide a great source of income to the government.

Of the islands' labor force, 53% is unskilled, working in the fishing or agricultural sector. The islands are also a popular destination for exotic weddings, a fact that has been well exploited by the local tourism industry. Expensive resorts dot the coastline in the major islands. Hollywood stars, millionaires, and other public figures from all over the world own mansions in the smaller islands, taking advantage of the privacy the location offers.

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