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National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos – October 14, 2024

National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos is celebrated every second Monday of October and this year, it falls on October 14. It honors the history and culture of the islands.

The holiday is a part of National Heritage Month, usually celebrated with festivities across the islands. It replaced the now obsolete Columbus Day in 2014.

History of National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos

The Turks and Caicos were first inhabited by Taíno and Lucayan people, who were thought to have migrated from Hispaniola. These original inhabitants engaged in seafaring, salt raking, and farming, which are still practiced by Turks and Caicos Islanders today. The name of the country was derived from these early settlers. ‘Turks’ refers to the indigenous Turk’s ‘head cactus,’ and ‘Caicos’ is from the Lucayan term ‘caya hico,’ meaning ‘strings of islands.’ The Taíno and Lucayan people remained the sole occupants of the islands for 700 years.

A few years after Christopher Columbus made landfall on the islands in 1492, the population of the indigenous people drastically dwindled, and the islands were left unpopulated for 30 years. These were attributed to the ill effects of colonization, including newly introduced diseases and the Spanish enslavement of the indigenous people. In 1678, people from Bermuda came to the islands and started a solar-evaporated salt industry. Salt was a precious commodity at the time as it was the primary means of preserving food. Later, in 1681, the Bermudian salt collectors built the first permanent settlement on Grand Turk Island. Between the early- and mid-18th century, the islands changed hands between the French, Spanish, and British.

In 1766, Turks and Caicos became part of the Bahamas colony but was given to Jamaica in 1873. After Jamaica’s independence from Britain in 1962, Turks and Caicos fell back under the administration of the Bahamas and became a crown colony. In 1973, the Bahamas gained independence, and Turks and Caicos became administered by a British governor at Grand Turk. However, on August 30, 1976, the islands adopted their first constitution, which has since been celebrated as Constitution Day. The country’s government is headed by a premier and ruled by the British Queen.

National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos timeline

Columbus Makes Landfall

Christopher Columbus arrives in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

17th Century
Soil Collectors Start a Salt Factory

Soil collectors from Bermuda start a solar-evaporated salt industry on the islands.

The British Colonize the Islands

The British make Turks and Caicos one of their overseas colonies.

The Islanders Achieve Autonomy

The Turks and Caicos Islands adopt their first constitution on August 30, becoming an independent country.

National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos FAQs

What are the Turks and Caicos Islands known for?

The Turks and Caicos Islands are known for their clear turquoise waters, making them the ultimate travel destination for snorkeling and scuba diving lovers.

What country owns Turks and Caicos?

The Turks and Caicos Islands are part of the British Overseas Territories. While the Queen is the head of state, the islands are governed by a democratically elected Premier and House of Assembly.

What is the best time to go to the Turks and Caicos Islands?

The best time to take a trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands is during the spring season — between February and April.

National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos Activities

  1. Take a trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands

    The Turks and Caicos Islands are the perfect spring break destination for you and your family or friends. During this season, the weather is clear, and the water temperature is about that of a bathtub. You can spend your time exploring places like Taylor Bay Beach, Smith’s Reef, and Chalk Sound.

  2. Try the local cuisine

    The local cuisine is a blend of West African, South Asian, European, and South American dishes, meaning you get a taste of several different cultures on one plate. While cracked conch is the local favorite, the Islands also offer exciting dishes like jerk chicken, grilled lobster tail, red snapper, and conch salad.

  3. Share your best wishes

    Show some love for the Turks and Caicos by sharing beautiful photos of their popular tourist attractions. Wish them a fantastic National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos.

5 Unique Facts About The Turks And Caicos Islands

  1. A British territory using American currency

    While the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory, the most commonly used currency is the U.S. dollar.

  2. A space landing

    The Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos is where John Glenn touched down on his return to Earth.

  3. The world’s widest blue hole

    The Middle Caicos Ocean Hole is thought to be the widest blue hole in the world.

  4. No rivers or lakes

    The Islanders depend on rainfall or expensive desalinated water for their freshwater needs.

  5. They aren’t part of the Caribbean

    Often considered part of the Caribbean, the Turks and Caicos Islands are actually located in the Atlantic Ocean.

Why We Love National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos

  1. It promotes the nation’s history and culture

    Having replaced Columbus Day in 2014, National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos has since become the focal point of the Islands’ National Heritage Month. It brings the Islands’ cultural heritage to global prominence and celebrates the people who have contributed to the Island’s collective growth and development.

  2. It is fun

    National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos is at the center of a month-long celebration filled with fun events and festivities. It’s a time to be with friends and family, attend social gatherings, or tour the length and breadth of the islands together.

  3. It encourages tourism

    National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos encourages tourists from Europe and the U.S. to enjoy the Islands’ soft white beaches, turquoise waters, and Caribbean cuisines. Some popular tourist attractions include Taylor Bay Beach and Smith’s Reef. Book that vacation and take a trip to Turks and Caicos today!

National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos dates

2022October 10Monday
2023October 9Monday
2024October 14Monday
2025October 13Monday
2026October 12Monday

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