Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Timeline: Cayman Islands

A chronology of key events:

1503 - Navigator Christopher Columbus sights the islands.

Blue Iguana
The islands are home to the Blue Iguana, one of the rarest species of reptile

1670 - Spain cedes the islands, along with Jamaica, to the English under the terms of the Treaty of Madrid.

Early 1700s - First permanent settlers arrive.

1794 - Legendary "Wreck of the Ten Sails": A ship hits a reef off Grand Cayman, closely followed by its convoy of nine vessels.

1832 - Legislative assembly set up.

1863 - Caymans become a Jamaican dependency, administered by an appointed commissioner.

1877 - Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman come under common administration.

1932 - Hurricane kills scores of people on Cayman Brac.

1959 - Caymans join short-lived Federation of the West Indies.

Jamaica ties cut

1962 - Federation of the West Indies dissolves. Jamaica declares independence. Caymans stay under British rule; a separate administrator is appointed.

Cruise ship
The islands are popular with cruise ships

1971 - Title of administrator is changed to governor.

1972 - New constitution provides for a greater autonomy.

1994 - Constitution modified.

2001 - Constitutional review launched but later put on hold.

2001 November - United Democratic Party (UDP) is formed. Leader of government business, Kurt Tibbetts, ousted after vote of no-confidence. UDP's McKeeva Bush assumes the role.

2002 May - British Overseas Territories Act grants British citizenship to all Caymanians.

2004 September - Hurricane Ivan, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, causes widespread destruction on Grand Cayman.

Hurricane damage in George Town, September 2004
Hurricane Ivan rendered 25% of buildings uninhabitable

2005 May - Opposition People's Progressive Movement, led by Kurt Tibbetts, wins general election.

2007 March - New constitutional review launched.

2009 May - US President Barack Obama singles out Cayman Islands in an attack on tax havens.

2009 May - United Democratic Party wins elections.

2009 August - Territory joins OECD's global "white list" of countries using internationally recognised tax standards.

2009 September - Britain refuses to allow territory to take out loans to plug a budget deficit, suggesting it raise funds in other ways.

2010 April - British police brought in to help tackle gang-related crime and preserve territory's reputation for safety.

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Compiled by BBC Monitoring

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