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1503
Columbus sights the Sister Islands and names them Las Tortugas. Over the next 100 years, the name Caymanas or Cayman becomes common.
1586
Sir Francis Drake's fleet of 23 ships stops for two days at Grand Cayman. The island is not inhabited, but crocodiles, alligators, iguanas and numerous turtles are recorded.
1655
England captures Jamaica from the Spanish.
1670
Under the Treaty of Madrid, Spain recognizes England's sovereignty over Jamaica and various other Caribbean islands, including Cayman.
1700
Permanent settlement has probably begun by this time with a few families, notably Boddens, living on Grand Cayman.
1734-42
Five land grants in Grand Cayman are made by the Governor of Jamaica. Mahogany and logwood are being exported to Jamaica. Population perhaps 100-150.
1773
First survey or "map" of Cayman made by the Royal Navy. Population is 400, approximately half free, half slaves.
1780s
Cotton, turtle, sarsaparilla and wood being exported to Jamaica.
1790
Fort George probably constructed to ward off attacks by French or Spanish.
1794
"Wreck of the Ten Sail" occurs. Ten ships, including HMS Convert, the navy ship leading a convoy of 58 merchantmen, wrecked off East End.
1798
First record of a magistrate in Cayman being appointed by Governor of Jamaica.
1820s
Local laws being passed by a self-appointed group of "principal inhabitants."
1831
Decision to form an elected assembly taken at Pedro Castle on 5th December. Elections follow on 10th and new Assembly passes first legislation on 31st December. Population is approximately 2,000.
1835
Governor Sligo of Jamaica lands in Cayman to declare all slaves free in accordance with the Emancipation Act of 1833.
1830s
First missionaries from the Anglican and Wesleyan churches visit and a church is built in George Town.
1830s-40s
First schools established by the Mico Charity and Wesleyans.
1846
Presbyterian church established by the Rev. James Elmslie.
1863
Act of the Imperial Parliament in London makes Cayman a dependency of Jamaica (although Cayman had been loosely "governed" as such from 1670).
1898
Frederick Sanguinetti, an official in the Jamaican Government, appointed as the first Commissioner of the Cayman Islands. Cayman will be governed by Commissioners until 1962.
1920
A major Education Act provides for government schools in all districts.
1937
The first cruise ship, The Atlantis, visits. This signals the beginnings of tourism, with the first tourist booklet published.
1939-45
During World War II, a "Home Guard" is formed to provide protection and surveillance of enemy shipping.
1946
The Girls’ Brigade is founded by Mrs. Olive Miller.
1950s
A number of hotels open as tourism begins to increase.
1953
An airfield is opened in Grand Cayman, eventually replacing the seaplane service which had operated since the 1940s.
The George Town Hospital is opened.
Barclays Bank, the first commercial bank, opens.
1956
The weather station at Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman begins operation.
1959
Cayman receives its first written constitution, which grants the vote to women. Cayman ceases to be a dependency of Jamaica.
1961
The local branch of the Red Cross is established.
1962
Following Jamaica's independence from Great Britain, Cayman chooses to remain a Crown Colony, governed by an administrator who reports directly to Westminster.
1965
The Mosquito Research Control Unit begins operating.
The Chamber of Commerce is formed.
The Caymanian Weekly (later the Caymanian Compass) begins publishing.
The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman is chartered.
1966
Landmark legislation is introduced to encourage banking industry.
1968
Cayman Airways starts flying.
1969
Cayman Drama Society, an amateur group, is formed.
1970
Population of the Cayman Islands is 10,249, with only 403 visitors.
The International College of the Cayman Islands is founded.
1971
A cadastral survey begins, ensuring that all land is registered.
1972
New Constitution introduced under which Cayman is governed by a Legislative Assembly, Executive Council and a Governor.
Cayman introduces its own currency.
The Humane Society begins operating.
The Lions Club of Grand Cayman is chartered.
1973
ICCI-FM, a training workshop for broadcasting students at the International College of the Cayman Islands, is Cayman’s first radio station.
1975
The National Council of Social Service (NCSS), later renamed the National Council of Voluntary Organizations (NCVO), is founded.
The Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman is chartered.
1976
Radio Cayman begins broadcasting.
The first Pirates Week is held.
1979
Cayman Water Co. Ltd. begins producing desalinized water at its Governor’s Harbour plant.
The Boys Brigade is started.
The census reports the population of the Cayman Islands is 16,677.
1981
Northward Prison opens.
1982
The Education Department holds the first National Children’s Festival of the Arts (NCFA).
The Cayman Islands Law School opens.
The Islands celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Parliamentary Government.
1983
HM Queen Elizabeth II visits, the first by a reigning monarch.
Government purchases the Turtle Farm.
The studio theatre, the first phase of the F.J. Harquail Cultural Centre, opens.
The Water Authority Law comes into effect.
The CI Audit Office is established. The Auditor General is appointed by the Governor and is independent of the Executive and Legislative branches.
1984
The Cayman National Cultural Foundation Law is passed.
Britannia, Cayman’s first golf course, opens.
1985
Government consolidates the hotel, marine, trade and building, and evening schools into the Community College.
1985
Marine parks are established in the waters off Grand Cayman in March and in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman in May.
1987
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands Law is passed and the Trust begins operation the next year.
1988
The eye of Hurricane Gilbert passes 30 miles south of Grand Cayman. There are no deaths but there is CI$16.5 million in damage.
The Water Authority’s West Bay Road sewage system begins working.
1989
The census reports the population of the Cayman Islands is 25,355.
The CI Postal Service celebrates 100 years.
1990
The National Trust starts the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme.
The Cayman Islands National Museum opens in the Old Courts Building on the waterfront in George Town.
The Cayman Drama Society celebrates 20 years by opening its 130-seat Prospect Playhouse in Red Bay.
1991
Mrs. Sybil McLaughlin becomes the first Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Local broadcast television arrives when CiTV goes on the air.
1991-1995
The “Cuban Crisis” saw a trickle become hundreds, and then become thousands, of asylum-seekers and economic migrants. Government resources (Immigration, Social Services, Police, Public Works and Health) were stretched thin. Between 1 August and 16 September 1994, 1,071 arrived. A residential camp (which became known as Tent City) allowed for long-term management. Groups from the UN, UK and USA visited and were involved in resolving the problem. Most of the Cubans eventually were allowed into the US; some went to other Latin American countries; a few qualified for, and were granted, political asylum in Cayman. Tent City closed in June 1995.
1992
Membership in the Legislative Assembly increases from 12 elected members to 15 elected members, with the districts of George Town, Bodden Town and West Bay each gaining a seat.
1993
The National Heroes Law is passed and the next year Mr. James Manoah Bodden (d. 1988) becomes the country’s first National Hero.
Nearly 90% of Grand Cayman’s population is receiving piped water.
Two anti-crime programmes are launched: Neighbourhood Watch and Cayman Crime-Stoppers.
Barclays Bank celebrates 40 years in Cayman.
The CI Coat of Arms, Flag and National Song Law is passed.
The Department of Environment is created, incorporating the environmental health section from Public Health, the MRCU, and the Natural Resources Unit from the Ministry.
The Financial Services Supervision Department is formed by amalgamating the Banking Supervision and Insurance departments.
1994
HM Queen Elizabeth II pays her second visit, knights the former financial secretary, Sir Vassel Johnson; and opens the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.
After several years of operation, the National Archive officially opened.
Constitutional amendments come into force including: Executive Council members now to be called ‘ministers’ and a fifth minister to be added to ExCo; provisions to be made for paying public service pensions, holding referenda, establishing a register of interests for LA members, appointing a speaker and deputy speaker for the LA, adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution, and appointing a complaints commissioner.
1995
Cayman hosts the CARIFTA track and field meet and basketball games, then three months later the Shell Caribbean Cup Football Tournament.
Jasmine Jackson receives the first Cayman Scholar Award, CI$25,000-per-year for tertiary study for up to five years.
1996
Residents of all ages were polled and the National Symbols Law made their choices official: the Cayman Parrot is the National Bird, the Banana Orchid is the National Flower, and the Silver Thatch is the National Tree.
Schools’ Inspectorate begins work.
The CNCF launches CayFest.
Cayman Brac creates a dive site by sinking an old Russian destroyer.
911 emergency communications begins operating.
Mrs. Sybil McLaughlin, the first Caymanian speaker of the Legislative Assembly, is designated the country’s second National Hero.
The National Gallery is founded.
Split from the Department of Environment, Environmental Health becomes a separate department.
1997
The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority begins operating.
The Cayman Islands Stock Exchange opens.
1998
Pedro St James National Historic Site opens.
National Health Insurance Law comes into effect.
Elmslie Memorial Church celebrates 75 years.
Governor John Owen launches Vision 2008, a strategic planning exercise to establish national goals and priorities for the next decade.
National Pensions Law is passed.
The old landmark Holiday Inn is demolished to make way for the RitzCarlton.
Cayman National Cultural Foundation purchases over 100 works by Miss Lassie (Gladwyn Bush).
1999
Government establishes a Financial Services Secretariat under the Portfolio of Finance and Economic Development.
Cayman Prep School celebrates its 50th anniversary.
A Memorandum of Understanding is signed with Cuba for the repatriation of illegal Cuban migrants.
The George Town library celebrates 60 years.
The census reports the population of the Cayman Islands is 39,410.
2000
Wholesome Bakery closes after serving the community for 45 years.
2001
The United Democratic Party (UDP) is formed.
The UDP brings and wins a vote of no confidence against Leader of Government Business the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts. Mr. Tibbetts and the Hon. Edna Moyle are removed from Executive Council.
2002
The People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) is formed.
The country celebrates 50 years of land-based aviation.
2003
A year long celebration marks the country’s Quincentennial.
The Constitution is amended to provide for the appointment of a Leader of Government Business, a Leader of the Opposition, and an Electoral Boundary Commission; and Executive Council is renamed Cabinet.
The Complaints Commissioner Law is passed.
Cable & Wireless’ government-granted telecommunications monopoly ends.
Cabinet grants 2,850 residents Caymanian status.
2004
A new Immigration Law goes into effect; the Immigration Board is replaced with three boards: the Work Permit Board, the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, and the Business Staffing Plan Board.
Hurricane Ivan hits Grand Cayman in September. There are two deaths and CI$2.8 billion in damage.
2006
The Turtle Farm is redeveloped and turned into a major tourism attraction dubbed Boatswain Bay.
Cable & Wireless celebrates 40 years of operation in Cayman.

(Prepared and produced courtesy of the Cayman Islands National Archive and Government Information Services).

Last Updated: 2007-11-06