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History of the Cayman Islands

Christopher Columbus became the first westerner to visit the Cayman Islands on May 10, 1503 and named them Las Tortugas after the numerous sea turtles there.

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. A variety of people settled on the islands: pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, deserters from Oliver Cromwell's army in Jamaica, and slaves. The majority of Caymanians are of African and British descent, with considerable interracial mixing.

Great Britain took formal control of the Caymans, along with Jamaica, under the Treaty of Madrid[?] in 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts, permanent settlement of the islands began in the 1730s. The Cayman Islands historically have been popular as a tax haven. Legend has it that Caymanians in 1788 rescued the crews of a Jamaican merchant ship convoy which had struck a reef at Gun Bay and that the Caymanians were rewarded with King George III's promise to never again impose any tax.

Administered as a dependency of Jamaica from 1863, the Cayman Islands became a self-governing British Overseas Territory in 1962 after Jamaica became independent from the U.K.

See also : Cayman Islands



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