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Interesting Turks and Caicos History

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September 24, 2014

Many Turks and Caicos visitors are content to enjoy our world-class beaches, plentiful water sports and diving opportunities, exciting culinary venues, and luxury resorts and spas when they visit.  However, if you are a history buff and want to learn about the interesting history of the islands, here are some tips to help you learn and explore.


We suggest starting with a trip to the Turks and Caicos National Museum , located on Grand Turk.  Day trips are available by taking a flight with interCaribbean (formerly Air Turks and Caicos) or Caicos Express Airways.  While you are on Grand Turk you can also visit the historic lighthouse and the salt pans display.


If you prefer to explore some history by ferry, take a day trip to North Caicos and visit the Wade’s Green Plantation, a former cotton plantation.  The Turks and Caicos National Trust provides tours.  Prior reservations are recommended.  While on North Caicos, view Bambarra Beach.  This is the spot that was settled by the survivors of the shipwreck Trouvadore, which ran aground on the reef just off East Caicos in 1841. The ship was a slave trader from Africa (with passengers coming from the village of Bambarra in East Africa), and when they made it to land in the Turks and Caicos they were granted freedom since slavery had been abolished years before in the UK Territory.


Back on Providenciales, visit Cheshire Hall, one of the key historic attractions on Providenciales. The former cotton plantation’s 200 year-old ruins have been carefully preserved by the National Trust.


As you explore the history of this Caribbean country you will quickly learn that Turks and Caicos had one of the world’s first and largest salt industries.  The harvesting of this “white gold” – particularly in the 1700 and 1800’s – largely led to the development of the country.


Here are some other interesting facts about the history of the country that you may want to explore:


  1. Many historians suggest that the first island that Christopher Columbus set foot on during his maiden voyage to the “new world” in 1492 was Grand Turk, the capital of Turks and Caicos Islands.
  2. Sisal fields were once planted on the islands.  Sisal produces a stiff fibre to make rope, twine, paper, cloth and even dartboards.  Other crops that were harvested included cotton and sea sponges.
  3. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, control of the islands changed hands several times between France, Spain and Britain.
  4. Pirates used the Turks and Caicos cays for about 30 years (1690-1720) to attack Spanish treasure galleons en route from Spain to various dependencies in the Caribbean and South America.
  5. In 1873, the Turks and Caicos Islands were granted status as an independent colony by a royal charter.
  6. The first commercial flight was made to Turks and Caicos in 1948.  However, the first airstrip and hotel were not built on Providenciales until the 1960’s.


Come explore our history and learn about our culture.  The Alexandra Resort’s concierge would be pleased to help you plan excursions to explore Turks and Caicos history on your vacation.

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