Turks and Caicos Islands Feature

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Geography, Flora, and Fauna

The landscape in the Turks and Caicos is flat—even the hills aren’t very high—and dry; although not a true desert, the chain experiences the least amount of rainfall of any island nation in the southern Atlantic and Caribbean. The sand around the shoreline is made up of crushed coral stone, which has a bright white color and makes the sea appear more turquoise than almost anywhere else in the Caribbean.

Birds

French Cay is a bird-watcher’s dream, protected as a national park. Here you can see dozens of white-cheeked pintail, reddish egrets, and osprey. The country's national bird, the osprey, can be seen on all the islands, but osprey nests are easier to see at Three Mary Cays on North Caicos or at Splitting Rock, also known as Osprey Rock, on Provo. Bright pink flamingos can be spotted on some islands, especially at Flamingo Pond at North Caicos, the pond at West Caicos, and at Provo's only golf course.

Flora

The official national plant is the Turks head cactus, so named because of its shape. The body is round, and it’s topped with a red cylinder, which resembles a Turkish fez (hat). The best place to see fields of them is on Ambergris Cay. Silver palms grow naturally in the scrub, adding a tropical flair to beaches such as Half Moon Bay, but the trees are most numerous on West Caicos. North Caicos is considered the “garden” island, as it receives the most rainfall of the islands and is greener as a result. The cays all have small limestone cliffs that have formed from years of ocean waves.

Other Fauna

Huge blue land crabs come out in the spring after rains. You're more likely to spot one on the sparsely populated islands of North and Middle Caicos, although they can be seen on Provo, too. The queen conchs that thrive in the flats between Provo and Little Water Cay are an important part of the islands' economies. The Turks and Caicos have the largest population of conch in the world, and conch is the most important food on these islands. Conch diving and deep-sea fishing both require fishing permits. The most important indigenous species of the Turks and Caicos is the rock iguana. They're mostly found at Little Water Cay, which is also known as Iguana Island. So beloved are these iguanas that Little Water Cay has been declared a national park. Excursion companies will make a stop to view them.

Updated: 12-2013

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