capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands is Cockburn Town on
Grand Turk. The islands were under Jamaican jurisdiction until
1962, when they assumed the status of a crown colony. The
governor of the Bahamas oversaw affairs from 1965 to 1973.
With Bahamian independence, the islands received a separate
governor in 1973. Although independence was agreed upon for
1982, the policy was reversed and the islands are presently
a British overseas territory. The islands adopted a constitution
on August 30, 1976, which is Constitution Day, the national
holiday. The constitution was suspended in 1986, but restored
and revised March 5, 1988. The territory's legal system is
based on English common law, with a small number of laws adopted
from Jamaica and the Bahamas. Suffrage is universal for those
over 18 years of age. English is the official language.
As a British territory, Queen Elizabeth II of the United
Kingdom is the sovereign, represented by a governor. The head
of government is the chief minister. The Executive Council
consists of three ex officio members and five appointed by
the governor from among the members of the Legislative Council.
No elections are held; the monarch is hereditary, the governor
appointed by the monarch, and the chief minister appointed
by the governor.
The unicameral Legislative Council consists
of 19 seats, 13 popularly elected; members servefour-year
terms. Elections were held March 4, 1999, and again in 2003.
The Progressive National Party, led by Hon. Dr. Michael Misick
holds eight seats, and the People's Democratic Movement, led
by Derek H. Taylor, holds five seats. The United Democratic
Party, led by Wendal Swann, received a small fraction of the
popular vote, but not enough to earn a seat.
The judicial branch of government is headed by a Supreme
Turks and Caicos participates in the Caribbean Development
Bank, is an associate in Caricom, and maintains an International
Criminal Police Organization - Interpol sub-bureau. Defence
is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. In December of
2004 the Turks and Caicos Islands sought to become a new associate
member to the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) article.