Brief History

The Islands were inhabited by Lucayan Taino Indians who lived in the Turks and Caicos between 700 and 1500AD. Christopher Columbus encountered these people in 1492 when he made landfall in Grand Turk. Unfortunately these peaceful island residents became extinct shortly after the Europeans arrived in the New World. During the mid-17th century Bermudans started landing in the Turks Islands to rake salt that they found naturally collecting on the shallow tidal flats. The islands were briefly under French rule before being signed to the English at the end of the Seven Year War in 1763. By the 18th century and through to the 19th century the Bermudians settled more permanently on Grand Turk and Salt Cay, building more substantial salt production facilities including a series of water channels, sluices gates and windmill powered water pumps.

In contrast the Caicos Islands were relatively quiet during 17 & 18th centuries except for the occasional occupation by pirates including the infamous Francois L’Onasis, Calico ‘Jack’ Rackham, Mary Read and Anne Bonnie. This all changed when exiled English loyalists from the United States established large cotton plantations on Provo, North and Middle Caicos from the 1790’s to the early 1800’s. Upon collapse, the emancipated people established villages and undertook a subsistence lifestyle, essentially inheriting the islands and becoming the Turks and Caicos Islanders we know today. These people became adept at living off the sea and farming the nutrient poor soils to make a living. The islands entertained a brief era of prosperity due to the introduction of sisal farms and life pretty much carried on until international tourism started creeping in during the 1960’s, 1970 and was finally put on the map when Club Med opened its doors on Providenciales in 1984.