The beautiful Cayman Islands were discovered thanks to a little detour caused by rough winds. On May 10, 1503, Christopher Columbus was voyaging to Hispaniola when his ship was blown off its course and he came across the islands. He named them "Las Tortugas," honoring the vast population of tortoises. The island’s supply of turtles contributed to the island’s popularity, as people used them for food and trade.
In the 1530s, the name of the islands was changed to "Cayman," which was Carib for "marine crocodiles," which also inhabited the islands at that time. Although today these crocodiles are no longer seen on the islands, results of a 1993 archeological dig prove their existence.
The first settlement was made on the tiny islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac during the tenure of Sir Thomas Modyford as Governor of Jamaica. Shortly after this, Jamaica was captured by the Spanish and Modyford had to send his men back to Jamaica. In 1670, the Treaty of Madrid made the islands a British possession.
Breaching the treaty, the British plundered the islands to restock their vessels. It was not long before pirates such as Blackbeard came to the islands, and repelled the British forces. Frequent pirate attacks led to the tiny islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac being uninhabited for a long period of time.
Many years later, in 1734, the Governor of Jamaica bequeathed a royal grant of land to the islands. It covered 3,000 acres of land in the area between Prospect and North Sound. Thanks to this grant, the Cayman Islands recovered their popularity.
February 8, 1794 marks the day of the favorite legend of the Caymanians-The Wreck of the Ten Sail. On this day, 10 ships sailing from Jamaica to England crashed upon the reef of Gun Bay, located at the eastern part of Grand Cayman. As it was about to crash, the first ship tried to warn the others of the reef, but the signal was misinterpreted, and one by one, all the ships were destroyed. Thankfully, Caymanians acted quickly, and were able to save most of the members on board. This tale not only demonstrates the bravery and kindness of the Caymanian people, but also of their livelihood at sea.
Today, the Cayman Islands are governed by England, and attract numerous tourists with their exquisite beaches and beautiful culture.
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