coastal trail on Middle Caicos between Conch Bar and Bambarra The beachfront road at Conch Bar Village, Middle Caicos.
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Turks and Caicos Population

a quiet road in the settlement of Cockburn Harbour on South Caicos
All of the main streets in Cockburn Harbour are paved.

The population of the Turks and Caicos is 44,543, according to the 2020 estimate by the Department of Statistics. The last census was in 2012 which reported a population of 31,458 persons. Previous censuses were held in 2001 and 1990.

The growth in population is not spread evenly throughout the country. Providenciales continues to see the overwhelming majority of population growth, with Grand Turk experiencing modest gains in population. Most other islands in the archipelago have seen little change in the population since the mid-1990s.

National Population

The last census was held in 2012. Preliminary data was published, but the final report was never published.

Data below is compiled from a variety of sources, including archive records and national censuses. Data from 2012 onwards are estimates from the Department of Statistics and ECLAC.

Turks and Caicos Population

Year Population
1781 921
1829 2046
1842 2495
1851 3250
1861 4372
1871 4723
1881 4732
1891 4785
1901 5287
1911 5616
1921 5612
1943 6138
1960 5668
1970 5558
1980 7413
1990 11465
2001 19886
2012 32458
2020 44543 (estimate)
2022 47677 (estimate)

Population by Island

6 major islands and 3 cays are inhabited: Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, South Caicos, Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and Pine Cay, Parrot Cay, and Ambergris Cay.

Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and South Caicos were the ‘salt islands’, which was the first industry in the country. Later on, plantations were developed on the Caicos Islands of North Caicos, Middle Caicos, Providenciales, and West Caicos.

The salt industry ended in the early 1940s, and the years afterwards saw large scale migration from the islands, mostly to neighboring Bahamas (particularly Grand Bahama).

The mid 1980s saw the construction of Club Med, which started the tourism boom of the 1990s and early 2000s. Along with increased international tourism came large scale migration to meet demand for service workers. This rapidly began to change the demographics of the islands.

Migration and Demographics

Haitians make up the overwhelming majority of migrants. Citizens of Haiti accounted for 34.7% of all residents in 2012 (compared to 38.9% Turks and Caicos Citizens). It is projected that Haitian nationals have become the largest demographic group in the Turks and Caicos. Citizens of other Caribbean countries make up the majority of the remaining migrants.

The other main demographic groups, as noted in the 2012 Census, by country were:

  • Dominican Republic - 4.9%
  • United States - 2.8%
  • Bahamas - 1.8%
  • Canada - 1.3%
  • United Kingdom - 1.2%

Population by Island

Year Providenciales North Caicos Middle Caicos South Caicos Grand Turk Salt Cay
1960 518 1150 532 840 2180 438
1970 558 999 362 1018 2287 334
1980 977 1278 396 1380 3098 284
1990 4821 1275 272 1198 3691 208
2001 13021 1347 301 1063 3976 120
2012 23769 1312 168 1139 4831 108

Belongers - Turks and Caicos Islanders

Belongership was renamed Turks and Caicos Islander Status.

The Turks and Caicos is not a sovereign country, instead being a British Overseas Territory. British Overseas Territory Citizenship (BOTC) is issued by the United Kingdom, and the majority of Belongers are BOTCs, which is the citizenship of their passport.

However, being a BOTC doesn’t grant rights normally associated with citizenship, such as voting and the right to hold political office. The local government grants Turks and Caicos Islander Status (previously titled Belongership), which grants the rights normally associated with citizenship.

The data below is from the census and estimates from the Department of Statistics, UN, and ECLAC. For the census, individuals self-reported their status, and it is commonly accepted that some persons, such as those born in the country, state that they hold Belongership, when they only hold citizenship.

Belonger vs Non-Belonger Population Share

Turks and Caicos Population Policies

Successive local government administrations have either initiated or proposed a population policy, most recently in 2019 when a Trinidadian consulting company was hired to produce a report and policy.

Various policies have been put in place with the goal of reducing the need for migrant workers and encouraging the hiring and empowerment of Belongers, however the Government’s lack of serious investment in education hinders this goal.