Did you know the history of the Turquoise Islands (another name given to the Turks and Caicos Islands) is utterly astonishing and even spooky? Here are some facts that will help you discover the fabulous past of these 30 magnificent islands, 8 of which are uninhabited.
Surrounded by Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas in the Caribbean Sea, the dream beaches and lush tropical forests of the Turquoise Islands were once inhabited by the peaceful Arawak people (the name Caique would come from the word Kayahik, meaning pearl necklace in Arawak language).
After a few centuries, the Kalinagos warriors became more numerous. Then, in 1512, the islands were invaded by the Spaniards, who depopulated them in just one year, making the Kaliganos slaves… A century and a half later, the British from Bermuda landed there and conquered the islands.
This is no legend: between 1690 and 1720, the Turquoise Islands served as a refuge for pirates who mercilessly attacked gold and treasure filled galleons who were traveling to Spain from Cuba, Hispaniola, Peru and Central America. The islands still contain the caverns and labyrinths of non-submerged caves in which they hid their booty…
Salt for Newfoundland
The colonization of the Turks and Caicos Islands really began in 1681, when salt collectors from Bermuda (British territory) established a permanent camp there. The shallow, crystal-clear waters of the sea made salt extraction less difficult than it was in Bermuda. Interesting fact: salt was sent mainly to Newfoundland for use in preserving cod.
Slaves in the cotton fields
In 1780, 40 British loyalist families driven out by the US War of Independence settled in the islands and obtained large grants of land. These settlers made thousands of African slaves work in their cotton plantations until, 3 years later, 400 French attacked the islands to take possession of them. The Turquoise Islands were finally returned to the British loyalists when the Treaty of Paris was signed.
As cotton cultivation declined due to hurricanes, British families left the islands one after the other. Their slaves were finally free and could live happy lives as fishermen, hunters and gatherers. The Turquoise Islands were subsequently integrated into Jamaica and then the Bahamas. They again became a British overseas territory and have since belonged to the Queen of England.
Annexation to Canada?
A bizarre fact in the history of the Turquoise Islands: the Prime Minister of Canada (also a British territory) asked the Queen in 1974 to annex the Turquoise Islands as the country’s 11th province instead of annexing these to the Bahamas, which are right next door. In 1986, 90% of the island’s population voted to be part of the Canadian Confederation! In 2014, the party in power in Canada rejected the idea of annexation, provoking the wrath of the opposition as well as of the prime minister of the islands…
Discover the beauty of the Turquoise Islands
Although the salt and even sea sponges and hemp industries operated in the Turks and Caicos Islands until the 1960s, the tourism industry began when American investors built an airstrip on Providenciales Island in 1968. Now, people from all over the world can come and discover the islands and their magnificent beaches with golden sand as far as the eye can see…
Does the history of the Turquoise Islands fascinate you? Imagine you could discover these archipelagos during your vacation! Located near Long Bay Beach, magnificent beachside villas for rent will allow you to enjoy a luxurious and relaxing stay on the shores of the mythical Caribbean Sea…