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Just twenty years ago, the
Turks and Caicos Islands
were one of the quietest and least-known destinations in the West Indies. Today, on the back of classy development on Providenciales, and great beaches and diving on all of the islands, they have become one of the most fashionable places to visit in the region.
The country comprises two groups of islands - eight inhabited and around forty uninhabited - separated by the Columbus Passage, a deep-water channel 22 miles wide and up to 6000 feet deep. To the east, the Turks Islands include
, the former the long-time home to government, the latter a tiny island named for the salt industry that once dominated the country. To the west, the chain of Caicos Islands includes inhabited
- each with its own charms - and the fast-growing island of
, known as Provo and home to the great majority of the nation's tourist development.
The major attractions on all of the islands are concentrated along their coasts: truly sensational white-sand beaches that stretch for miles, and world-class diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing and bonefishing. Inland, there's not much to see other than low-lying scrubby vegetation and, particularly in the Turks Islands, large expanses of featureless salinas, from which Bermudian settlers and traders harvested salt during the islands' early development
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