The three-island Caribbean country is a British Overseas Territory. Grand Cayman, at around 35 km/22 mi in length with an average width of 6.4 km/4 mi, is the largest and most densely populated of the group. It is home to the capital city, George Town, and the location of all major businesses. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are respectively 19 km/12 mi and 16 km/10 mi in length with an average width of about 2 km/1 mi.
Residents of the Cayman Islands enjoy one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and a low crime rate. Modern medical facilities, state of the art communications, and reliable utilities make it a comfortable destination for expatriates on assignment.
Caymanians are welcoming to people from all over the world - over one million tourists vacation here each year. In addition to visitors, the Islands are home to a large expatriate population - approximately one-quarter of the total population - working mostly in the tourism, building, financial, and banking industries.
Although the cost of living on the Islands is high, this is counterbalanced by the absence of income taxes.
Government and politics
The Cayman Islands is a parliamentary democracy with judicial, executive and legislative branches. The 2009 Constitution provides for a Governor,who serves as the British government administrator; a Legislative Assembly; and a Cabinet.
The Legislative Assembly, an 20-seat unicameral body, members of which serve four-year terms.
Responsibility for the critical areas of defense and foreign affairs, with the exception of certain international bilateral agreements, resides with the United Kingdom. The Cayman government itself concentrates mainly on economic development and the provision of public services.
While organized political parties were not common in the past, since 2000 the nation's politicians have been polarized into two large groups: the socially progressive People's Progressive Movement (PPM), and the conservative United Democratic Party (UDP).
Offshore banking and associated financial and legal services generate the bulk of the country's wealth. One of the world's largest financial centers, more than 93,000 companies are registered in the islands. Tourism is the major revenue earner, creating more than two-thirds of the Cayman GDP.
Agricultural production is not a significant contributor because of poor quality soil and low rainfall. Indeed, nearly 90 percent of the Cayman Islands' foodstuffs are imported, placing a heavy burden on the balance of payments and contributing to the high cost of living.
Unemployment is low - around four percent. Demand for skilled workers is satisfied by large numbers of foreign workers. Work permits allow the government to control the numbers and types of workers entering the country.
Despite an historically strong economy, the Cayman government imposed a tax on foreign workers in 2012, to augment expenditure reductions in response to UK calls for a sustainable budget. Work permit holders earning more than $20,000 annually will have to pay a 10-percent payroll tax.