The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea. The 264-square-kilometre territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman located south of Cuba, northeast of Costa Rica, north of Panama, east of Mexico and northwest of Jamaica. Its population is approximately 60,000, and its capital is George Town.
The first recorded settlements were located on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac during 1661-71. Because of the depredations of Spanish privateers, the governor of Jamaica called the settlers back to Jamaica, though by this time Spain had recognised British possession of the Islands in the 1670 Treaty of Madrid. Often in breach of the treaty, British privateers roamed the area taking their prizes, probably using the Cayman Islands to replenish stocks of food and water and careen their vessels.
Though Cayman was regarded as a dependency of Jamaica, the reins of government by that colony were loosely held in the early years, and a tradition grew of self-government, with matters of public concern decided at meetings of all free males. In 1831 a legislative assembly was established.
The constitutional relationship between Cayman and Jamaica remained ambiguous until 1863 when an act of the British parliament formally made the Cayman Islands a dependency of Jamaica. When Jamaica achieved independence in 1962, the Islands opted to remain under the British Crown, and an administrator appointed from London assumed the responsibilities previously held by the governor of Jamaica
The Cayman Islands are considered to be part of the geographic Western Caribbean Zone as well as the Greater Antilles. The territory is often considered a major world offshore financial haven for many wealthy individuals.