1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cayman Islands

CAYMAN ISLANDS, a group of three low-lying islands in the West Indies. They consist of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, and are situated between 79° 44′ and 80° 26′ W. and 19° 44′ and 19° 46′ N., forming a dependency of Jamaica, which lies 178 m. E.S.E. Grand Cayman, a rock-bound island protected by coral reefs, is 17 m. long and varies from 4 m. to 7 m. in breadth. It has two towns, Georgetown and Boddentown. Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are both about 70 m. E.N.E. of Grand Cayman. Excepting near the rocky coast, the islands are fruitful, mahogany and other valuable timbers with some dyewood are grown, and large quantities of coco-nuts are produced by the two smaller islands. Phosphate deposits of considerable value are worked, but the principal occupation of the inhabitants is catching turtles for export to Jamaica. The people are excellent shipwrights and do a considerable trade in schooners built of native wood. The islands are governed by a commissioner, and the laws passed by the local legislative assembly are subject to the assent of the governor of Jamaica. The population of the group is about 5000. The islands were discovered by Columbus, who named them Tortugas from the turtles with which the surrounding sea abounds. They were never occupied by the Spaniards and were colonized from Jamaica by the British.