Cayman Islands profile
One of the world's largest financial centres and a well-known tax haven, this British overseas territory in the Caribbean has more registered businesses than it has people.
Grand Cayman and its sister islands Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have natural attractions too. Beaches, coral reefs and abundant marine life make them a popular haunt for the wealthier visitor.
Once a dependency of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands came under direct British rule after Jamaica declared independence in 1962. Granted greater autonomy in 1972, the islands gained a high degree of self-government under the 2009 constitution. The British-appointed governor retains control over the police and external security.
Tourism, banking and property are big money earners, having overtaken the traditional trades of fishing, turtle hunting and shipbuilding and made the islands financially self-sufficient.
At a glance
- Economics: Major offshore financial centre - capital of the world's hedge fund industry; fifth biggest banking centre. Tourism accounts for three quarters of earnings. Caymanians and Cayman Islands companies pay no direct tax. Government income derived from indirect taxation such as import duties.
- Politics: British overseas territory; self-governing since 2009, first premier McKeeva Bush ousted in corruption scandal in 2012
- International: Sometimes criticised as a haven for tax evaders, in 2009 it was added to a "white list" of jurisdictions using recognised tax standards
Profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring
More than 9,000 mutual funds, some 260 banks and 80,000 companies operate through the islands. The industry has come under scrutiny and the government has enforced stricter banking regulation to counter money laundering.
In May 2013, the islands - along with Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands - signed agreements on sharing tax information with Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain as part of an international drive against tax evasion.Hurricane Ivan
Hurricanes are a natural hazard in the low-lying islands. In September 2004 Hurricane Ivan pounded the main island with winds of up to 200 mph. A national disaster was declared.
The offshore finance industry quickly resumed operations. But the rebuilding of homes and other buildings - 70% of which were damaged - took longer.
Christopher Columbus discovered the islands in 1503 and named them Las Tortugas, after the giant turtles that he sighted in the surrounding seas. The islands were later renamed Caymanas, from the Carib indian word for a crocodile.
Once threatened with extinction from over-hunting, turtles are now bred - mainly for domestic consumption - at the Cayman Turtle Farm. The farm releases hundreds of turtles into the wild every year.