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Cayman Islands

Basic Information

Area: 260 km²

Calling code: +1 345

Population: 62,000

Official Language: English

Time zone: (UTC-5), Local time: 08:28


The Cayman Islands are a three island group located in the Caribbean Sea, 240km south of Cuba and 268km northwest of Jamaica. The largest and most populated island of Grand Cayman is home to 44,000 people and covers 196km2. Along with the smaller islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the Cayman Islands have a combined total territory of 264km2 and a population of 56,000.

The Islands are divided into 8 administrative districts: Eastern, Midlands, South Town, Creek, Spot Bay, Stake Bay, West End and Western. The capital city of George Town is located on the western coast of Grand Cayman, and it is the heart of the financial industry, with most major banks choosing to locate their headquarters here.

The Islands were originally colonized from Jamaica in the 18th century, from which it became part of the Federation of the West Indies, which dissolved in 1962; the Cayman Islands then chose to remain a British dependency and are still classed as British Overseas Territory. The local currency used is the Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD), which printed on the island and pegged to the U.S Dollar (USD), at a set rate of 1 KYD to 1.227 USD.


The Cayman Islands have a strong economy, and the 14th highest GDP per capita (PPP), figure in the world, which stands at $43,800. The economy is predominately based around the tourism sector which generates around 80% of the GDP figure of $2.25 billion. Its idyllic location helps to attract over 2 million tourists annually (including single day cruise ship visits), most of which travel from North America.

The Cayman Islands no direct taxation policies have attracted a wealth of offshore and financial related services, and the Economist ranks the Cayman Islands as the fifth-largest banking centre in the world. There are 93,300 registered companies, including 200 banks and 800 insurers. The islands have also grown into one of the worlds leading hedge fund jurisdictions with over 10,000 mutual funds. Large corporations operating on the islands include Garmin Ltd, Transocean, and Seagate Technology.

Only 1.9% of the population work in agriculture, and the Cayman Islands do not produce enough food to meet requirements, therefore 90% of all foodstuffs consumed on the islands are imported. There is also no fresh water supply on any of the islands, so drinking water is provided by rainwater catchments.


There are three airports on the Cayman Islands: Owen Roberts International Airport, Gerrard Smith International Airport and Edward Bodden Airfield. The Owen Roberts International Airport is both the largest and busiest airport, and it is a base for 12 airlines who offer flights to destinations such as London, New York and Havana. The national flag carrier, Cayman Airways, has flights to 9 American cities and also operates a cargo route to Miami. There is a total of 725km of paved roadways, most of which are on the larger island of Grand Cayman. No trains operate on any of the islands.

Sea transport is central to both the importing and exporting of goods, and also for the transportation of passengers. George Town acts as the main cruise ship port, and welcomes between 4,000 - 22,000 tourists every day. Cayman Brac also has its own port, which is primarily used for the shipping of cargo. There are a total of 109 merchant marine, including 30 bulk carriers, 42 chemical tankers and 15 petroleum tankers.

A modern telecommunications infrastructure exists, with submarine cables that provide links to the US and South America, and there are over 40,000 mobile phone users. The Internet infrastructure has also been updated, with a total of 21,248 Internet hosts in 2009.


The Cayman Islands have a total workforce of 39,000, 55% of which are non-nationals. The islands have a mixed population, with over 100 different nationalities living on the islands. An estimated 60% of the population are African American or mixed race, while the remaining 40% are mostly of European and African descent. Non-citizens wishing to work on the islands must first obtain a work permit, which is granted only after the applicant passes a health check and a criminal background check. Once the non-renewable permit is granted, workers are only allowed to remain employed on the island for a maximum of 7 years, unless they fit special ’key employee’ criteria.

Citizens are required to attend primary and secondary schooling, which is provided by the state free of charge. Grand Cayman has a selection of prestigious private schools that offer curricula which is derived from education systems in the United Kingdom and the United states. There are also several higher education institutes such as the Cayman Islands Law School (CILS), and St. Matthews University. The strong and structured education system helps to produce a high national literacy rate of 98%.

Business Costs

The Cayman Islands are considered to be a tax haven, with no direct corporate taxes, instead certain businesses are liable to indirect taxes. Financial institutions operating on the island are charged a flat rate, annual licensing fee. The Cayman Islands have 8 categories of companies: resident, non-resident, exempt, limited duration, foreign, limited partnership, exempted limited partnership and Cayman Island Trusts. The government has also levied several other taxes, including a 10% accommodation tax for tourists, a 5% - 20% import duty on imported goods (books, baby food an cameras are exempt), plus an automobile duty, which varies depending on the make and model of car, with the highest bracket being 40%. There is no personal income tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, or wealth tax.

There is currently no minimum wage in operation on the Cayman Islands, which has led to low labour costs particularly for labourers in the construction sector. Expatriate workers employed in professional and high end jobs are paid competitive salaries and bonuses, on par with those found in developed western cities.
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