The British overseas territory, Turks and Caicos, consists of two groups of tropical islands in the West Indies; Caicos is the larger of the islands and Turks being the smaller one. Even though they are geographically very close to the Bahamas, they are politically independent. The islands were first inhabited by the Taino and Lucayan Indians, and discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. This was followed by thirty years of relatively sparse inhabitance. However, during this time the Bermudians came to rake salt and take it back to Bermuda, establishing the salt industry which was a major source of economic success for a long time. That has now been replaced with tourism and offshore finance. Turks and Caicos is now a British overseas territory; in 2009 the British government discovered widespread corruption amongst the political elite and established direct rule.
Today, Turks and Caicos is becoming the ideal place for international offshore investment because there are no taxes on income, capital gains, corporate profits, inheritance or estates; this is one of the reasons the country also has one of the fastest growing economies in the Caribbean. That being said, development on the island is controlled because the island prides itself on conserving and protecting its nature and heritage; once again making it an enjoyable place for tourists but also for the local residents. Julia and Phil Davies have published a visual example of this in their photography book called, The Turks and Caicos Islands: Beautiful by Nature. The official language on the island is English, however most of the people also speak Turks and Caicos Creole. Culturally, Turks and Caicos are best known for their ripsaw music, which literally involves playing a saw as an instrument; it hosts an annual Music and Cultural Festival.