We are proud to be Caymanian. With strong connections to the United Kingdom and across the Caribbean, we trace our history back to early settlers in the 1700s. Our rich seafaring tradition, warm hospitality and pioneering spirit have laid a foundation for the Cayman Islands we know today: a modern economic and tourism hub, rich and vibrant in its diversity.
The Cayman Islands has been an economic success story. Founded on our twin pillars of financial services and tourism and anchored by a stable government, we have delivered strong economic growth and employment so as to benefit families and businesses across our islands. These strong foundations will be much needed to support the country through the pandemic and recovery.
As one of the world’s leading providers of institutionally focused, specialised financial services, our main industry sectors include banking, investment funds, captive insurance, trusts, and structured finance. We have achieved a significant global market share in a number of these areas and continue to develop other sectors of the economy.
We are known as a premier tourism destination. Attractions across our three islands include the acclaimed Seven Mile Beach and historic sites. With some of the world’s best coral dive sites, we strive to protect our environment and species including our successful Blue Iguana recovery programme.
The Cayman Islands is great place to live, work and do business. We have sound law and order and modern business practices, with well-developed infrastructure including a wide range of grocery stores and restaurants, schools, a modern airport with, in normal times, direct flights to North America, Central America and the Caribbean. We continue to invest in health services, education, sports, arts and cultural facilities and events, and an active voluntary sector.
The Cayman Islands Government took early and decisive steps to protect our country from imported COVID-19 cases, and were able to actively suppress the virus through swift enforcement of health and safety regulations, effective social distancing measures, the rollout of robust testing, and many other initiatives with the private sector and non-profit community.
With support from the UK Government, we made good progress with the implementation of the Cayman Islands COVID-19 Vaccination Programme which commenced in January 2021. This was instrumental in the execution of a phased border reopening plan which enabled the country to rebuild our reputation as a world-class tourism destination and get businesses and families back to work whilst safeguarding the health of our community.
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the Western Caribbean. It is comprised of three Islands – Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The Islands are situated 480 miles southwest of Miami, about 277 miles south of Cuba, and 310 miles northwest of Jamaica. Cayman Brac is 89 miles northeast of Grand Cayman and Little Cayman is 5 miles west of Cayman Brac.
The capital of the Cayman Islands is George Town, in Grand Cayman.
Reputed to be discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503, the first settlers came here in 1638. The Islands were handed over by Spain to Great Britain in 1670 with a larger influx of settlers arriving from early 18th Century. The Cayman Islands were administered as a dependency of Jamaica from 1863. Upon Jamaica's independence, the Cayman Islands opted to become a direct dependency of the British Crown, and received its first constitution in 1959. See our complete History page for more information.
The British Nationality Act 1981 came into force on 1 January 1983, which separated Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) into three categories: British Citizens, British Dependent Territories Citizens, and British Overseas Citizens. British Overseas Territories Citizenship (BOTC) was called ‘British dependent territories citizenship’ before 26 February 2002.
Persons automatically became a British citizen on 21 May 2002 if they were connected to the following qualifying British overseas territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Learn more on GOV.UK.
While there are over 130 nationalities living and working in the Cayman Islands, the majority of work permit holders (about 75%) come from Jamaica, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, India, Canada, and the United States.
Based on the Cayman Islands' 2021 Census of Pupulation and Housing conducted from 10 October 2021 - 25 January 2022, we are home to 71,432 persons (50.6% males and 49.4% females) with approximately 38,047 Caymanians. Surnames such as McTaggart, Chisholm and Bodden abound, tracing our cultural links back to early settlers from across Great Britain, from Scotland through to Cornwall.
The 30 to 49 years age group remains the dominant group with its share of 38.4 percent of the total population. Children younger than 15 years old account for 15.9 percent of the population, while the elderly (65 years or older) represent 7.9 percent. Caymanians comprise 50.7% of the workforce. The overall unemployment rate is 5.7%.
For more information, check the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) website. ESO, a Government department, provides official statistics in accordance with the law and internationally accepted standards. The office also generates official macroeconomic forecasts.
Christianity has played a large role in the lives of Caymanians, and there are a variety of churches. The largest according to the 2021 Census are:
Residents also follow the Baha’i, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim faiths. Although these communities are not large enough to support houses of worship, services are held in family homes and visitors are welcome.
"While traditional Caymanian cultural identity is now viewed almost entirely through the lens of its maritime heritage, it is important to acknowledge that agriculture, primarily logging and cotton, initially played a substantial role in the early economic development of the islands from 1734 (when permanent settlement began) until the late 1830s, following the abolition of slavery," (Ministry of Health & Culture, 2017, p. 37).
Caymanians have a tradition of hardiness and independence of spirit, which sustained them through many difficult years when their home was sometimes referred to as "the islands that time forgot." In those years, Caymanian men earned a livelihood at sea, either as turtle fishermen or as crew members on foreign-owned ships, or by working in North and Central America. As skilled seamen, they were highly sought after by multi-national companies that would have them working in all corners of the globe. In 1906, more than a fifth of the population of 5,000 was estimated to be at sea, and even as late as the 1950s the government annual report said that the main "export" was seamen whose remittances were the mainstay of the economy.
The Ministry of Health & Culture (2017) also noted, "With the male population often away at sea for months on end, women played a central role in both running the home and cultivating the land" (p.37). “As well as caring for their families, many women supplement their [or their husband’s] meagre incomes by making rope from the leaves of the endemic Silver Thatch Palm, and a few were employed as nurses, teachers, or in scarce government jobs, (Ministry of Education, 2009, p. 6).
Many Caymanians have travelled the world as merchant seamen and others have lived and worked for long periods in the United States, Central America, Canada and Europe. Others, older Caymanians, have never left their island home.
Since the 1970s, the economy has grown in remarkable fashion thanks to tourism and financial services. Over the last 30 years, governments have pursued policies aimed at developing the infrastructure, education, health and social services, and fostering stability, which is an important factor in the economy’s continued growth.
Our rich heritage, forbearance and Caymankind spirit will see us through the hard times resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and will help us to rebuild and recover in the near future.
Ministry of Education. (2009). Steps to Equality: The Struggles and Achievements of the Pioneering women who Fought for the Right to Vote [Pamphlet]. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: Ministry of Education.
Ministry of Health and Culture. (2017). National Culture and Heritage Policy & Strategic Plan for the Cayman Islands 2017-2026. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: Ministry of Health and Culture.