The British overseas territory of the Cayman Islands is well known for being one of the world’s largest offshore finance centers. Comprised of three islands; Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the territory is also considered part of the Greater Antilles. It is located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. First sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1503, who named the islands ‘Las Tortugas’ after the abundance of sea turtles sighted in the surrounding waters, the islands got the name Cayman in 1540, which means ‘crocodile’ in the Carib language. The Cayman Islands were once a dependency of Jamaica under British control since 1670, but after Jamaica’s independence in 1962 they came under direct British rule. In 1972 the islands were granted autonomy and now maintain a strong economy that is primarily based on tourism and international finance. Before tourism and banking, however, the traditional trades of the islands were based on the marine environment, such as fishing, turtle hunting and shipbuilding.
Culture and the arts on the islands are encouraged and preserved through the Cayman Islands’ Cultural Foundation; they specifically promote Caymanian performing, visual and literary arts. Every year the Harquail Theatre produces events and is also rented out to people interested in using this space, which the Cultural Foundation also manages. Each April the islands host the Cayman Islands Arts Festival, the Carib Art Exhibition and also participate in the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts. Furthermore, the Foundation supports artists, dancers, creative writers and teachers through sponsored workshops. Alongside promoting the flourishing visual arts, theatre and dance scene, the Foundation also helps preserve traditional Cayman music, jazz and storytelling through many other festivals and events.Some feature films that were filmed here are The Firm, Haven and Cayman Went and some books are The Other Side of Hell by Bob Adamov, The Diver by Alfred Neven DuMont and Cayman Coyboys by Eric Douglas.