Cayman Islands

Region: Caribbean

Capital: Georgetown

Population: 55,036 (ESO, 2010)

Surface area: 264 sq km

Currency: Cayman Islands dollar (KYD)

GDP per capita (purchasing power parity): $43,800 (2004 CIA est.)

Background

The Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British during the 18th and 19th centuries and were administered by Jamaica after 1863. In 1959, the islands became a territory within the Federation of the West Indies. When the Federation dissolved in 1962, the Cayman Islands chose to remain a British dependency.

Economy Overview

With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 93,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 2008, including almost 300 banks, 800 insurers, and 10,000 mutual funds. A stock exchange was opened in 1997. Tourism is also a mainstay, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is aimed at the luxury market and caters mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 1.9 million in 2008, with about half from the US. Nearly 90% of the islands’ food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of Switzerland.

Major Industries: tourism, banking, insurance and finance, construction, construction materials, furniture

Major Export Commodities: turtle products, manufactured consumer goods

Foreign direct investment, net inflows ($ billions): 7.4 (World Bank, 2011)

Remittances: N/A

Life Expectancy at Birth: 78.23 years (male) 83.64 (female) 80.9 years (total population) (CIA, 2013)

Sources:

Cayman Islands Ministry of Finance and Economic Development ; The Economic and Statistics Office, The Cayman Islands’ Compendium of Statistics 2012, published June 2013. http://www.eso.ky/UserFiles/right_page_docums/files/uploads/cayman_islands_compendium_of_statistics_.pdf (accessed 19/11/2013)

CIA World Factbook. Information on Background and Economy Overview: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cj.html (accessed 19/11/2013)

World Bank. 2013. The Little Data Book 2013. Washington, DC: World Bank. doi: 10.1596/978-0-8213-9812-8. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0

Image of flag and map; copyright of Wikimedia Commons

Updated November 2013