Turks and Caicos History

At first glance, Turks and Caicos history is not readily evident when visiting the islands.  There are few historic buildings, monuments or interpretive facilities to help tell the story of the country’s past.  Yet a little bit of research and conversations with local residents can help you learn about the vibrant history of Turks and Caicos.  Here are some interesting historic “firsts” to help get you started!

700 – Amerindians who migrated from Hispaniola (the island shared by Dominican Republic and Haiti) first inhabited the Turks and Caicos Islands.

1492 – Christopher Columbus reputed to have discovered Turks and Caicos Islands.

1512  - Reputed to be the first recorded sighting of Turks and Caicos Islands, by Spanish conquistador Joan Ponce de Leon while in search for the Fountain of Youth.

1681 – The first European settlement in Turks and Caicos, by salt collectors from Bermuda on Grand Turk.

1870 – A British flagmaker mistakenly interprets a salt mound as an igloo, and an igloo remains on the Turks and Caicos flag for many years.

1956 – Work started on the first paved road on Providenciales – Front Road, which runs along the shoreline in Blue Hills.  There was no heavy machinery on the island at the time – Local residents built the road by hand.  It took a decade.

1962 – Turks and Caicos became a Crown Colony for the first time. In the same year, John Glenn completes the first space flight and steps onto land on Grand Turk after his return from space.

1966 – The first motor vehicle was put on Providenciales on November 22 by Provident Company.

1970 – Last shipment of salt from Salt Cay, bringing an end to a 300 year old industry.

1976 – First self – elected government.  The country’s first Chief Minister was elected – Jags McCartney.

1984 – The first resort opened on Grace Bay Beach – Club Med.

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