Trivia Thursday: Turks & Caicos

The Turks and Caicos Islands are full of fascinating information and culture for everyone to enjoy from small children to adults. We hope you enjoy this piece of Turks and Caicos Island history that we have put together for you, from pirates in the Caribbean to the lives of Hollywood celebrities.

  • There is much speculation about the origin of the islands’ name. The most accepted version is that they were named for the indigenous barrel-shaped Turk’s Head cactus, which resembles a Turkish fez, and from a mutation of the Spanish word “cayos”, meaning small islands.

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  • A site excavated by archaeologists on Grand Turk has yielded the oldest Lucayan Indian artifacts yet found in the Bahamian archipelago, dating from AD 750.
  • Columbus said to have discovered the Islands in 1492, however it is still argued that Ponce de Leon arrived first.
  • Myth has it that Columbus first set foot in the New World on the island of Grand Turk and not San Salvador in the Bahamas.
  • On Middle Caicos, a boy in love will plant a stringy, yellowish-orange flower called a love vine in his sweetheart’s yard. Residents can predict the outcome of a relationship by how well the love vine grows.
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Dodder (Cuscuta genus) aka Love Vine
  • The Caribbean humpback whale migrates through the Turks Head passage every year from January through April.
  • After astronaut John Glenn made his historic orbital flight in 1962, the first place he touched land was on Grand Turk Island, then the location of a NASA tracking station.
  • Providenciales is home to the world’s only Conch farm (pronounced ‘conk’), a large mollusk farmed for its meat and shell. Conch, the most beloved of local dishes, is actually a giant sea snail that begins life as a tiny larva no bigger than a pinhead. A full-grown conch can attain 12 in/30 cm in length and is considered by locals to be an aphrodisiac when eaten—preferably raw.
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Conch Shell
  • Turks and Caicos residents call themselves “Belongers.”
  • Survivors washed up on shore from an 18th century French ship christened the welcoming island La Providentielle which name changed to Providenciales by the Spanish. Widely known today as Provo.
  • Parrot Cay is said to have been the hideout for famed pirate Calico Jack Rackham.
  • Legend has it that Anne Bonny, female pirate associate of Calico Jack Rackham, resided on Parrot Cay lending the original name Pirate Cay to this Island.
Anne Bonny
Anne Bonny
  • Potcake is the local term for a mixed-breed dog. This originates from the word used to describe the scrapings from the bottom of a pot of stew, that wonderful amalgam of different flavors.
  • The national music of the islands is known as rake ‘n’ scrape (or ripsaw). A metal scraper or nail is raked over a handsaw’s teeth as the blade is bent. The music is accompanied by a goatskin drum, hand accordion, maracas and an acoustic guitar. There’s an Annual Rake & Scrape Festival in March.
  • Numerous movies and television shows have been filmed and continue to be filmed on the islands such as “Bahama Passage”, “Paradise Virus”, “Long Lost Son”, “The Island”, the first season of “here!” and many other travel shows; House Hunters and Thank God You’re Here.
  • Hollywood’s elite from Bruce Willis, Oprah Winfrey to Donna Karan and Keith Richards own property on the islands. Michael Douglas and Catherine-Zeta Jones are rumored to be purchasing a property on the exclusive island of Dellis Cay. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were married on Parrot Cay.

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