George Town, the capital city of the Cayman Islands, is located in the British West Indies, and with a population of just over 40,000, it is the largest city in all of the British Overseas Territories. Nestled in the southwest elbow of Grand Cayman, the country’s largest island, George Town is also home to the offices of the Caymanian Government, including the Parliament, the court houses, and the Government Administration Building, which itself houses the offices of the Premier, the Cabinet, and the Deputy Governor, as well as numerous other elected officials and civil servants. Also, built over 150 years ago, the former Old Courts Building, which once served as a jail as well as the island’s first official post office, is now the site of the National Museum of Grand Cayman.
The city is also the heart of the islands’ financial services industry, with close to 600 banks and trust companies, including branches of 40 of the world’s 50 largest banks. As recently as 2007, these financial services generated around 55% of the territory’s total economy, as well as 36% of all employment and 40% of all government revenue. The Cayman Islands ranks 5th internationally in terms of value of liabilities booked and 6th in terms of assets booked. Major law firms, as well as large accounting firms (such as KPMG, Ogier, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte), have also established themselves in the Caymans.
Culturally, George Town is known to be a major melting pot, with over 100 nationalities calling the city home. Most of the city’s residents are expatriates, with Jamaicans making up the largest immigrant group. However, there are also sizable communities of Asians, especially Filipinos and Indians.
George Town is also a popular Caribbean port-of-call, with many large cruise ships anchoring offshore and ferrying their passengers to the center of the town’s shopping district. These ships usually remain anchored from early morning until the mid-afternoon. Popular tourist activities include: submarine tours of the harbor, glass-bottom boat tours, charter boat tours, snorkeling and scuba-diving trips, parasailing, rum distillery tours, art galleries, a historical museum, and of course, souvenir and jewelry shopping along Church Street (above). The waterfront is also home to a Harley-Davidson shop, a Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and a Guy Harvey art studio and restaurant. In terms of nightlife, Seven Mile Beach is home to numerous nightclubs and bars. The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman is the largest hotel on the island. Popular day-trips include a visit to Hell as well as the Cayman Turtle Centre.
- Visited: Jan 2010, Feb 2020