Turks and Caicos profile
- 6 January 2017
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
The Turks and Caicos Islands, a British overseas territory, enjoys one of the more dynamic economies in the West Indies, with thousands of overseas companies registered there.
Upmarket tourism, offshore finance and fishing are economic mainstays, replacing salt production for the low-lying islands and cays.
Home rule was restored in November 2012 and a new parliament elected in 2015, three years after Britain imposed direct rule over corruption in the islands' administration.
Once a dependency of Jamaica, the Turks and Caicos Islands became a crown colony upon Jamaican independence in 1962. Taino Indians were the original inhabitants while later arrivals included slaves, brought from Africa to work on cotton plantations. Their descendants make up a majority of the population.
Wealthy retirees are among the more recent settlers but at the other end of the economic scale, migrants come from impoverished Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Turks and Caicos
British overseas territory
Area 430 sq km (166 sq miles)
Major language English
Major religion Christianity
Life expectancy 79 years (men), 77 years (women)
Currency US dollar
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor
Premier: Sharlene Cartwright Robinson
Sharlene Cartwright Robinson became the first female premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands when she was sworn in December 2016.
She had led the opposition People's Democratic Movement (PDM) to victory for the first time in 13 years, which has alternated power with Progressive National Party (PNP) since 1976..
During her election campaign, among her slogans was "She's just the best man for the job." She will also serve as the territory's finance minister.
Her success in the polls follows a turbulent period for the British overseas territory.
Britain temporarily abolished home rule in March 2009 after a parliamentary inquiry found evidence of widespread corruption and accused the then Chief Minister, Michael Misick, of selling Crown land to fund investment.
Home rule was restored under a new constitution in November 2012.
The territory is self-governing, with the governor overseeing foreign affairs, defence and offshore finance. Power is exercised by an elected legislative council and an appointed executive council.