Location and Geography
The three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, are located in the western Caribbean about 150 miles south of Cuba, 460 miles south of Miami, Florida, and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica. George Town, the capital, is on the western shore of Grand Cayman.
Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, has an area of about 76 square miles and is
approximately 22 miles long with an average width of four miles. Its most striking feature is the shallow, reef-protected lagoon, the North Sound, which has an area of about 35 square miles. The island is lowlying, with the highest point about 60 feet above sea level.
Cayman Brac lies about 89 miles northeast of Grand Cayman. It is about 12 miles long with an average width of 1.25 miles and has an area of about 15 square miles. Its terrain is the most spectacular of the three islands. The Bluff, a massive central limestone outcrop, rises steadily along the length of the island up to 140 ft. above the sea at the eastern end. Little Cayman lies five miles west of Cayman Brac and is approximately 10 miles long with an average width of just over a mile. It has an area of about 10 square iles. The island is low-lying with a few areas on the north shore rising to 40 ft. above sea level.
There are no rivers on any of the islands. The coasts are largely protected by offshore reefs and in some places by a mangrove fringe that sometimes extends into inland swamps. Geographically, the Cayman Islands are part of the Cayman Ridge, which extends westward from Cuba. The Cayman Trench, the deepest part of the Caribbean at a depth of over four miles, separates the three small islands from Jamaica.
The islands are also located on the plate boundary between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. The tectonic plates in Cayman’s region are in continuous lateral movement against each other. This movement, with the Caribbean plate travelling in an eastward direction and the North American plate moving west, limits the size of earthquakes and there has never been an event recorded of more than
The temperature, summer or winter, seldom goes lower than 70°F or higher than 90°F. The average is 78°F in the winter and about 86°F in the summer. The average annual humidity in 2004 was 77 percent. Rainfall varies over the Islands and seasonally, but in George Town, the capital on Grand Cayman, the average monthly figure for 2004 was six inches.
Between May and October the prevailing winds are from east to south; from December to April, the coolest season of the year, prevailing winds are from the northeast to northwest. The hurricane season typically lasts from June to November.
Tourism and financial services form the basis of Cayman's strong economy and prosperity. The country's successful offshore financial industry dates back to 1966 when the first banking and trust laws were passed, laying the foundation for the modern banking and financial services industry that exists today.
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