The Cayman Islands
A group of three small islands in the western Caribbean, the Cayman Islands are the envy of the region – beautiful tropical islands, famous for their coral reefs, with a dynamic economy, political stability, low crime rate and an infrastructure to match that of much larger states. There are no taxes whatsoever on income or profits, capital or wealth or capital gains in the Cayman Islands.
Most of the roughly 55,000 inhabitants live on the largest of the trio, Grand Cayman, which lies 480 miles south of Miami, Florida, and 180 miles west of Jamaica. The two smaller Sister Islands – Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – lie approximately 90 miles and 80 miles respectively northeast of Grand Cayman.
The islands offer a perfect tropical climate all year round, with average temperatures of 78°F in the winter and 86°F in the summer. The weather, safety of the islands and sophisticated lifestyle have made the Cayman Islands a popular tourist destination for both stay-over and cruise ship tourism, and they are known as a premier diving destination.
Though tiny in size, with a combined area over the three islands of just 102 square miles (264 square kilometers), Cayman is one of the largest financial centers in the world and where approximately 70% to 80% of all hedge funds are domiciled. Integral to Cayman’s success in a highly competitive global market is the combination of knowledgeable professionals, stable government and strong regulations that instill confidence that investors’ funds are secure.
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory, with strong ties to the UK and a British-appointed Governor. Elections every four years determine 15 elected members of the Legislative Assembly to represent the Islands' six districts, four each from George Town and West Bay, three from Bodden Town, one each from North Side and East End and two from the Sister Islands.
Elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) vote five of their peers to be Cabinet members, called Ministers, and the Governor, under instructions from the Crown, appoints three Official Members to Cabinet – the Chief Secretary, the Attorney General and the Financial Secretary. In recent years, the political process has become more formalized with the introduction of political parties and the appointment of both a Leader of Government Business to head the majority party (currently the People’s Progressive Movement) and a Leader of the Opposition.
The cost of living in the Cayman Islands is high, largely because very little is produced locally and almost all goods must be imported. Government levies significant import duties and the rising cost of fuel leads to higher transportation costs, two factors that affect retail prices.
Nevertheless, the standard of living also remains high and is a draw for expatriate workers, who make up almost half of the workforce in the Cayman Islands. These are predominantly from West Indian and Central American countries, followed by the United States and Canada, and the United Kingdom and Ireland, though there is a growing number of Filipino residents.
The Cayman Islands dollar is fixed to the US dollar at CI$1 = US$1.20.
The official language of the Cayman Islands is English.
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