Grand Turk is the easternmost island of the 30 Turks and Caicos islands, islets, and cays. The little waterfront capital of Cockburn Town, with stucco style buildings and traditional West Indian wood-with-shutters, features Governor's Beach, the best known of miles of deserted white sand beaches. Guinep Lodge, probably built in the 1840s, is now the home of the Turks and Caicos National Museum. Featuring a comprehensive display on the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest European Ship to have been found in the New World, there are also exhibits on the Salt industry, the Loyalist Plantation Period and the Taino Arawaks, the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the island.
The islands claim about 166 square miles of land and about 5000 square miles of ocean and lie less than 30 miles southeast of the Bahamas, and about 130 miles north of the coast of Hispaniola. Most of these islands are flat and sand-fringed, with a desert like climate, terrain, and scrub growth. There are salt ponds on some of the islands and limestone cliffs on others. The Turks and Caicos islands make up one British Crown Colony with a self-governing status like that of Bermuda. Presently, 8000 people live throughout the islands.
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