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Turks and Caicos Islands Timeline

Below, we provide a chronology of key historical events from 750 to the present day.

750AD: Taino Indians from Hispaniola visit the Islands seasonally.

900: The Taino Indians set up permanent villages and trading stations. They become known as the Lucayans, “the Island people”.

1300-1500: Lucayan settlements on all the Islands and most Cays.

1512: Juan Ponce de Leon stops in Grand Turk on his discovery voyage to Florida. He christens the island “Isla del Viejo”, referring to the lone, aged Lucayan man he sees there.

Ca.1515: Unknown Spanish ship wrecks at Molasses reef on the Caicos Bank. This becomes known as the Molasses Reef Shipwreck.

Ca. 1520: All Lucayans are gone

1530-1720: Turks and Caicos Islands are largely uninhabited, except for possible use as hiding places for buccaneers and pirates

Ca.1660-1730: Bermudan “wrackers” visit Grand Turk and Salt Cay on a seasonal basis to rake salt. This is the real start of the Salt Industry

1710: Spanish capture Grand Turk during the War of Spanish Succession, but regained by Bermudan privateer, Lewis Middleton.

1750s: Bermudans begin year-round occupation of the Turks Islands. Using slaves and indentured servants, large scale salina development begins.

1764: Britain claims ownership of the Islands.

1776-83: Despite being a British Colony, Turks Island salt merchants sell salt to George Washington’s Revolutionary Army.

1790s: American Loyalists receive Grants in the Caicos Islands to reimburse them for lost American lands. Cotton and cattle raising begin use of slave labor.

1812: Second British American War prevents trade, causing famine in the islands.

1813: Caicos Islands suffer a devastating Hurricane, forcing many Loyalists to abandon their plantations. After years of insect plagues and soil depletion, they abandon their slaves to the land.

1820s: Many slaves escape to Haiti and freedom. This is just one part of the history of slavery in the Turks and Caicos Islands

1834: The emancipation of Slaves throughout the British Empire. In Grand Turk, local lore says the Proclamation was read from the Odd Fellows Lodge on Front Street. This brings slavery to an end in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

1841: Spanish slave ship Trouvadore is wrecked on East Caicos. 192 slaves survive the wrecking. 24 are sent to the Bahamas and the remaining 168 became part of the Turks and Caicos Community.

1852: After many shipwrecks, a Lighthouse is erected on Grand Turk to help navigation.

1860-1865: The American Civil war again disrupts the Salt Trade.

1870: A flag maker in England mistakes a pile of salt for an Igloo, he adds in a door. An Igloo appears on the TCI flag for the next hundred years.

1874: Unable to maintain it’s independent government, the Turks and Caicos Islands become a dependency of Jamaica.

1876-1890: To compliment the erratic salt industry, new industries are started. Sisal growing, guano mining, sponging, even whaling are tried, but with little success.

1926: Still considered the “Hurricane of the Century”, the Great Hurricane of 1926 devastates all the Islands from Grand Turk to Florida.

1950s: Invited by the Bahamian government, hundreds of Turks Island people emigrate to help build the new city of Freeport.

1953-1954: US Air force and Naval bases are constructed on Grand Turk, providing much needed employment.

1962: At Jamaican Independence, the Islands vote to remain a British Crown Colony.

1962: The United States’ first man in orbit, John Glenn splashes down near Grand Turk and is debriefed at the Air Force facility here. One month later, Scott Carpenter follows the same path. Few people know about Grand Turk’s involvement in the Space Race.

1966: Development of Providenciales begins.

1966: Queen Elizabeth II visits the Islands.

1970: Last shipment of Salt from Salt Cay brings the 300 year old industry to a close.

1976: First self-elected government. Election ushered in the Ministerial system of Government and a four year term of membership within the Legislative Council and Executive Council (A Chief Minister and three other Ministers, the Governor as President, the Chief Secretary, the Attorney General and the Financial Secretary as official members.)

J.A.G.S McCartney

1980: J.A.G.S McCartney, the Islands' first elected Chief Minister, killed in a plane crash.

Nov 1980: Norman Saunders leads Progressive National Party to victory in general election winning 8 of 11 seats up for election

03 Mar 1984: Norman Saunders leads Progressive National Party to second successive victory in general election winning 8 of 11 seats up for election

03 Mar 1988: Oswald Skippings leads opposition People's Democratic Movement to victory in general election winning 11 of 13 seats up for election

03 Apr 1991 : Washing Misick leads opposition Progressive National Party to second successive victory in general election winning 8 of 13 seats up for election

31 Jan 1995: Derek Taylor leads People's Democratic Movement to victory in general election winning 8 of 13 seats up for election

31 Jan 1995: Derek Taylor leads People's Democratic Movement to second successive victory in general election winning 8 of 13 seats up for election

24 Apr 2003: The governing People's Democratic Movement retains majority in elections, winning 9 of 13 seats and giving Chief Minister Derek Taylor an unprecedented third term.

Aug 2003: Two constituencies (South Caicos North and Five Cays Providenciales) are ordered in bi-elections. PNP wins the bi elections and became the Government

7 Aug 2006: New Constitution comes into effect with the name of the Chief Minister being changed to Premier. Other new provisions were made for a Deputy Governor, four appointed members, House name change from Legislative Council to House of Assembly and Executive Council to Cabinet and appointed members being qualified to hold Ministerial post except for the Minister of Finance and fifteen elected members.

09 Feb 2007: Michael Misick's Progressive Naional Party wins general election with 13 of 15 seats.

2009: Premier Michael Misick, resigned, following signs of corruption, Britain removed Misick and the cabinet, constitution was suspended for two years, a governor appointed by Queen Elizabeth would run the Island

15 Oct 2012: A new constitution comes into force. While in the past 15 members of the Legislative Assembly were elected in single mandate constituencies, the new Constitution Order modified the electoral system providing for 10 members to be elected in single-mandate districts and five elected in “all islands” constituency.

09 Nov 2012: Rufus Ewing leads Progressive Naional Party to victory in general election and is elected as the new Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands. PNP wins 8 of 15 seats.

15 Dec 2016: General elections

PDM = People's Democratic Movement; PDA = Progressive Democratic Alliance; PNP = Progressive National Party; IND = Independent; * Incumbent; ** Political Leader
A Political Chronology of the Americas by Europa Publications.


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