Location and Geography
The three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, are located in the western Caribbean about 150 miles south of Cuba, 460 miles south of Miami, Florida, and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica. George Town, the capital, is on the western shore of Grand Cayman.
Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, has an area of about 76 square miles and is approximately 22 miles long with an average width of four miles. Its most striking feature is the shallow, reef-protected lagoon, the North Sound, which has an area of about 35 square miles. The island is low-lying, with the highest point about 60 feet above sea level.
Cayman Brac lies about 89 miles northeast of Grand Cayman. It is about 12 miles long with an average width of 1.25 miles and has an area of about 15 square miles. Its terrain is the most spectacular of the three islands. The Bluff, a massive central limestone outcrop, rises steadily along the length of the island up to 140 ft. above the sea at the eastern end. Little Cayman lies five miles west of Cayman Brac and is approximately ten miles long with an average width of just over a mile. It has an area of about 11 square miles. The island is low-lying with a few areas on the north shore rising to 40 ft. above sea level.
There are no rivers on any of the islands. The coasts are largely protected by offshore reefs and in some places by a mangrove fringe that sometimes extends into inland swamps.
Geographically, the Cayman Islands is part of the Cayman Ridge, which extends westward from Cuba. The Cayman Trench, the deepest part of the Caribbean at a depth of over four miles, separates the three small islands from Jamaica.
The islands are also located on the plate boundary between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. The tectonic plates in Caymanís region are in continuous lateral movement against each other. This movement, with the Caribbean plate travelling in an eastward direction and the North American plate moving west, limits the size of earthquakes and there has never been an event recorded of more than magnitude 7.
It is not unusual for minor tremors to be recorded. Many residents donít even notice them. However in December 2004 a quake of 6.8 magnitude rocked Grand Cayman and everyone noticed. The earthquake, short in duration, opened some small sinkholes but otherwise didnít cause any damage.
Last Updated: 2011-08-04