Turks & Caicos time:
Turks and Caicos Fact SheetGeography: The Turks & Caicos Islands are part of a mountain range forced to the surface due to Plate tectonics and the theory of crustal plate movement many years ago. Geographically and Ethnically we are a part of the Bahamian archipelago and sometimes referred to as the South Eastern Bahamas, Politically we are not. Although there are 42 islands and cays within the Turks and Caicos, only eight of them are inhabited. The most prominent islands in the Turks group are Grand Turk and Salt Cay totalling 10 square miles of surface between the two of them with a great portion of that being salt pans. The main islands in the Caicos group consist of South Caicos, East Caicos, Middle (or Grand) Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, and West Caicos. The land area of all the islands is 166 square miles (430 square kilometers). Providenciales, which has a total surface area of 37.5 square miles, is considered the main island and is our center of modern civilization with modern streets, sidewalks, supermarkets, an airport, restaurants and world class resorts. You will not find any of the American fast food chains here, so if you are one of those vacationers who enjoy Burger King and Mcdonalds, you will be very disappointed. The food here is fabulous. The drinks are strong, and if you are adventurous the Turks & Caicos can be a gastronomic expedition of epic proportions. Conch, lobster and fresh fish are the things you must try whilst here on vacation. The Turks and Caicos lie just off the southeastern tip of the Bahamian Archipelago (575 miles southeast of Miami), 90 miles north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Population: Approximately 25,000.
Language: English is the official language.
Political Status: The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British oversees territory. The islands were part of Britain's Jamaican colony until 1962, when they assumed the status of a separate crown colony at the time Jamaica was granted independence. The governor of the Bahamas oversaw the Turks and Caicos from 1965 to 1973. When the Bahamas were granted independence in 1973, the Turks and Caicos were assigned their own governor. Although an agreement was reached in 1982 to grant the Turks and Caicos independence, the policy was reversed. Grand Turk is the capital city of the Turks and Caicos.
Getting to the Turks and Caicos: Providenciales International Airport is served by several major international airlines, as well as a number of regional airlines.
Entry/Visa Requirements: All visitors to the Turks and Caicos must hold a round-trip ticket. Visitors may stay up to 30 days and are allowed to apply for extensions for longer stays. Extensions are approved under the discretion of the Immigration Department. Due to recent changes in U.S. regulations, Americans are required to present their passport in order to re-enter the United States. Visitors from countries within the British Commonwealth require passports. Visas are necessary for visitors from countries outside of the Commonwealth and the United States. Please contact a British Consulate Office for visa applications.
Money Matters: The U.S. dollar is the official currency. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as well as travelers checks. Banks generally feature offer ATMs and provide cash advances on credit cards. ATMs are also becoming more widespread in the retail areas of Providenciales.
Health Care: General practitioner and emergency care is available on Providenciales and Grand Turk. A recompression chamber is also available in Providenciales.
Driving: As in the United Kingdom, cars in the Turks and Caicos drive on the left-hand side of the road but most of our vehicles are American made and the steering wheels are on the left hand side as well, only recently are right hand drive vehicles being imported directly from Japan. Visitors may use the driver's license of their home country when renting a car. Please note that some car rental companies rent vehicles with the steering wheels on the right hand side as well and can make the whole experience more complicated. If you think that you might have a problem with this combination, please request a vehicle like you are accustomed to when booking a rental car.
Electricity: 110 volts AC (the same as elsewhere in North America) is the standard.
Time Zone: The Turks and Caicos Islands are in the Eastern time zone (like New York, Atlanta, and Miami) and observe daylight saving time. Daylight saving time starts the first Sunday of April and ends the last Sunday of October.
Climate: The Turks and Caicos enjoy a tropical marine climate with low humidity and 350 days of sunshine a year. The warm temperatures are moderated by the cooling breezes of the easterly tradewinds.
During the winter months, the average daily high temperature is 82 degrees (F) and the average nightly low temperature is 65 degrees (F). During the summer months, the average daily high temperature is 88 degrees (F) and the average nightly low temperature is 72 degrees (F). Ocean water temperatures at the surface average 80 degrees (F) in the winter and 84 degrees (F) during the summer. Water temperatures range from a low of 74 degrees (F) in the winter months to a high of 86 degrees (F) in the summer months. We recommend a 3mm shorty or full suit in the winter months but a swimsuit or lycra skin alone works well during the months June thru October.
Rainfall is interspersed throughout the year. Providenciales, Middle caicos and North Caicos average less than 50 inches of rainfall annually, while Grand Turk and South Caicos average only 22 inches of rainfall annually. Grand Turk and Salt Cay has even less because at the beginning of the Salt Trade, the Salt Rakers cut down all of the rees on these islands in an effort to reduce rainfall. These islands have an abundance of Turks Head Cactus and Cassia trees. The Turks Head Cactus which has been growing in abundance on Grand Turk forever, was one of the first plants noticed by Christopher Colombus on his arrival and due to the fact that the top of the plant look like a hat worn by people in Turkey, he dubbed the islands the Turks. Cassia trees are a low lying, long thorn producing plant which looks and is painful to the touch is the main source of food for the roaming animals on Grand Turk. Ambergris Cay which is South of South Caicos has a weather pattern of it's own due to the majority of it's ridges running North to South, versus East to West like most of the Islands, this actually affects the cooling and condensation process and results in quite a bit of rainfall.
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