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History of Turks & Caicos

The Tainos and Lucayan Indians were the first to occupy the gorgeous islands of Turks and Caicos. They led a peaceful existence on the islands, forming a rich heritage of seafaring, salt-raking, and farming. It is speculated that the name "Turks and Caicos" refers to the Arawak terms for "Cactus" and "String of islands."

In 1492, famous explorer Christopher Columbus made his first landfall upon the islands. It then wasn't long before more Europeans came to Turks and Caicos, and the Indian population depleted due to diseases these foreigners brought. Those who survived were forced into slavery. It was not long before the islands lost most traces of their former residents; only a few utensils and building sites remain today.

For a few centuries, the French, Spanish, and British fought over ownership over Turks and Caicos. Eventually, the British won the title. This sense of victory was short-live and they struggled in trying to help the islands in their state of prosperity. The islands led a slow development because they were not on main sailing routes, did not possess gold, and the islands' lack of rain made them incompetent for growing sugar. As a result, the islands remained uninhabited until 1678, when Bermudans came.

Soon after their arrival, the Bermudans discovered that the islands contained vast amounts of salt and saw this as a perfect opportunity for trade. They began to extract salt and logging trees, and began clearing the islands to make way for Salinas, or salt-drying pans. Much of the salt was sold to supply cod-fishing industries of New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

The Bermudans prospered during this period, and Turks and Caicos finally became acknowledged by the rest of the world. The islands even attracted pirates, who came to the islands and robbed wealthy sea merchants. These acts caused the French to retaliate and they claimed the islands in 1753, but were repelled by British forces only a year later.

Turks and Caicos became a part of the Bahamas in 1799. This remained for many years until a petition by the islands' residents caused it to become loosely tied to Jamaica. In 1973, England retained its former ownership of the island when Turks and Caicos became a separate Crown Colony of Great Britain.

Today, many people are drawn to islands for the beautiful culture and exquisite beaches perfect for scuba diving.

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