Sabtu, 25 Oktober 2008

Cayman Islands

It is unlikely that the British, or anybody else for that matter, would have desired the Cayman Islands quite so much when they were first discovered. Columbus originally named the islands 'Las Tortugas' (The Turtles) because they were utterly covered in them. More worryingly, the word 'Cayman' probably derives from the Carib word, 'Caymanas', meaning 'marine crocodile', suggesting that the islands were also the favoured home of scores of lizards. In addition to this, the Cayman Islands have long been associated with the history of buccaneers and pirates, who once established hideouts here.

All of this is easy to forget as you luxuriate on wide, sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters that teem with coral reefs and marine creatures. The Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is particularly popular and deservedly so. Rather than combating pirate invasion, the closest you will probably get to exertion is diving in shipwrecks, walking through rainforest, and letting velvety stingray brush against your legs.

There are three islands in this British Overseas Territory: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The latter two are the smaller of the Cayman islands and were discovered by Columbus in 1503. Sir Francis Drake explored the area in 1586, but it was 1670 before the islands came under full British rule. Grand Cayman was settled from Jamaica by 1672; Little Cayman and Cayman Brac were settled some time later and maintained a separate administration until 1877. The governor of Jamaica held administrative responsibility for the islands until 1962, when Jamaica itself became independent. Since then the islands have had their own governor appointed by the British Crown.

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