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Cayman Islands

The islands' name comes from the native Carib word "caiman," describing the marine crocodiles living there. The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, comprises the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. The territory is located in the western Caribbean Sea, about 240 km south of Cuba and 290 km west of Jamaica. The three islands have a total land area of approximately 250 km2.

Grand Cayman, the most populous and largest island, is about 22 miles from west to east, a mile wide at its narrowest, and 8 miles wide at its widest. The capital, George Town, is located on Grand Cayman. The territory’s highest point is the bluff on Cayman Brac, rising to 140 feet above sea level. Cayman Brac is 11 miles long and about a mile and a half wide. Little Cayman is 10 miles long and a mile wide. Together, the three islands enjoy a coastline stretching for more than 100 miles.

On the west side of Grand Cayman is the famous Seven Mile Beach, the crescent-shaped natural wonder with boundless capacity for relaxation. With sand stretching as far as the eye can see, Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach is often rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in all the Caribbean - and the least populated.

Financial services continued to be the main driver in the economy, accounting for 22% of total government revenue in 2006. In its fiscal operations, the Government maintained a surplus of revenue over expenditures, thus allowing the territory to finance most of its infrastructure and other expenditures with minimum resort to debt financing. The exchange rate was CI$ 1.00 5 US$ 0.82 in 2010.

Unemployment rose from 2.6% in 2006 to 6.0% in 2009. In 2006, males accounted for 51.0% and females 49.0% of the unemployed, while in 2009, males made up 59.6% and females, 40.4% (see Table 1 for other economic indicators for the Cayman Islands).

The Cayman Islands are accessible by air and are well served by a number of USA based carriers as well as British Airways. The islands also have their own airline, Cayman Airways, which operates schedules to a number of cities in the USA, Jamaica and Cuba as well as flights between the islands.

The quality of medical care in the Cayman Islands is generally comparable to that available in the United States, but some procedures and cases requiring critical care may require medical evacuation to the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for health services. There is a relatively new and well-equipped hospital on Grand Cayman in the capital George Town and a smaller facility, Faith Hospital, on Cayman Brac, which can cope with most routine medical and dental problems. Treatment is expensive and more serious cases will normally be stabilised in the Territory before being transferred to Miami.

Grand Cayman and its sister islands are among the safest destinations in the Caribbean, with a very low crime rate. The natural friendliness of the local people, together with the relaxed way of life and beautiful coastal scenery, is one of the most appealing aspects of Grand Cayman as a tourism destination. Visitors are welcomed with warm smiles and the sweet sound of local music playing at various places all over the islands. Crime of opportunity such as pick-pocketing and purse snatchings occasionally occur. Police in the Cayman Islands enforce laws against illegal drugs, guns and ammunition. Even a single bullet inadvertently loose in a carry-on bag can lead to arrest.

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