Cayman Islands: Country and Foreign Investment
Population, Language and Culture
The population is estimated at 56,125 (2012 est.). The majority live on Grand Cayman with about 1,200 people on Cayman Brac and only about 120 on Little Cayman. The capital is George Town, on Grand Cayman. Just over a third of the population are non-Caymanians, from 113 different countries. English is the official language with a brogue reflecting Welsh, Scottish and English origins. Jamaican patois is also common among the substantial part of the population that has immigrated from Jamaica.
The islands were discovered by Columbus in May 1503. He named them "Las Tortugas" after the abundance of sea turtles. On a voyage between 1585-86, Sir Francis Drake visited the islands and re-named them The Cayman Islands after the local word for crocodile.
In 1655 Cayman officially became part of the British Empire under the Treaty of Madrid and for the next 300 years the islands were administered as a dependency of Jamaica. King George III granted the Cayman Islands freedom from taxation after the courageous rescue of ten merchant vessels in the Royal fleet which ran aground in rough seas on 8 February, 1794.
The Caymanians are more of a maritime people than many Caribbean nations; having few native inland resources they have tended to live from the sea, and are good sailors. Perhaps this is why recreational scuba diving is said to have originated on Cayman; now it is a staple of the islands' pervasive tourist industry.