Little Cayman is the smallest of the three Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman). Located in the western Caribbean, south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, the three islands were designated a British Overseas Territory in 1962 . At only 10 square miles, Little Cayman is the smallest of the three islands. It is located almost 90 miles northeast of Grand Cayman Island and is separated from Cayman Brac by a seven mile wide channel. Little Cayman is accessible via Cayman Airways or by boat from both Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman. The majority of the island is just above sea level with its highest elevation about 56 feet.
Christopher Columbus first discovered the group of the three Cayman Islands for the Spanish in 1503. They were originally named Las Tortugas (The Turtles) due to the numerous sea turtles. The first Englishman to land on the islands was Sir Francis Drake in 1586. He called them the Cayman Islands after the caiman which were once found there. Caiman is the Carib Indian word for the marine crocodile. Great Britain was awarded control of the islands by a treaty with Spain in 1670. Until the 17th century, the islands remained uninhabited for the most part. Although recorded settlements existed on the Little Cayman Island and Cayman Brac between 1661 and 1671, pirate attacks forced the colonies to be abandoned. It wasn't until 1833 that a permanent settlement was established at Blossom Village.
The people of Little Cayman Island are primarily of British and African descent. The official language is English. The resident population of Little Cayman is less than 170 people. The least developed of the three islands, it only has a few restaurants.
Little Cayman is mostly known for its spectacular scuba diving sites. Although Little Cayman is a low, flat island, it is actually the barely exposed summit of a massive undersea mountain. The Cayman Ridge is an undersea chain of mountains extending westward from Cuba. The deepest part of the Caribbean Sea is the nearby Cayman Trench which is at a little over 4 miles deep. These geographical features were formed as part of the boundary between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates.
Because of these undersea geographical features, Little Cayman is world renowned for scuba diving. The Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park has been called one of the world's best dive sites. With a drop-off that goes from 18 feet to about 1000 feet deep, it has been ranked as one of the world's finest sites for wall diving. Although local dive operators have claimed that the depths reach from the 3000 to 5000 foot range, these depths are well off shore, away from recreational dive sites. There are about 50 recognized dive sites around the island.
Other water sports are also offered. Inland can be found the Booby Pond Nature Reserve which is a nesting ground for the Caribbean's largest population of Red Footed Boobies. There island is also home to the Little Cayman Rock Iguana.
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