While researching the Turkish named settlements in the world as a professional tourist guide years ago, I also coincided with Grand Turk name in the Caribbean Sea along with Belgium-Liege- Faymonville Turkish village. According to the answer given by our people when asked “Who knows better? The one who reads a lot or the one who travels a lot?”; I who travel a lot turned my course to the Caribbean Islands which is also called as the West Indies. I booked a cruise tour departing from Miami. At the end of this travel, I realized that there is a historical mistake through research I have conducted in Grand Turk Island.
THE FIRST STOP OF COLOMBUS’ TRAVEL TO THE “NEW WORLD”: GRAND TURK
Grand Turk Island is the island where Cockburn Town, the capital of Turks and Caicos Islands. Turks and Caicos Islands is independent in domestic affairs but dependent on England in foreign affairs. The official language of the country is English and its monetary unit is American Dollar. The space capsule of the first American Astronaut John Glenn who completed earth’s orbit is exhibited in Grand Turk Island and it is placed at the entrance of the port.
CACTUS, TARBOOSH AND TURK
“Caicos” is thought to come from “caya hico” meaning “blocks of islands” in the local language. Whereas encyclopedias state that the island is named as Turk because of the resemblance of the top of a cactus (Melocactus) to tarboosh, there is a historical mistake here. That is to say, we, Turkish people, got to know tarboosh during the period of Sultan Mahmud the 2nd for the first time. However, the word Turk existed in the 15th century. Grand Admiral Koca Hüsrev Pasha brought tarboosh from Morocco with the firman of Mahmud the 2nd.
A couple of stories are told about Turks and Caicos Islands which remind Turks and boats and the roots of the name Grand Turk. One of them is that the island is named after a cactus unique to the region which resemble a tarboosh, thus reminds of a Turkish man. Based on another narration, the name results from a pirate’s story. In the past, the word “Turkish” is used to mean “pirate”. In the 15th and 16th centuries, pirates who sailed to oceans in a period when the Ottoman kept a sharp lookout in the Mediterranean are said to choose Turks and Caicos Islands as a hiding place.
CRISTOPHER COLOMBUS AND MEZQUITA
Christopher Colombus who discovered America marked a place in the region where today’s Cuba was located in the Caribbean Sea in the map he prepared as “Mezquita”. The Turkish equivalent of this word is “Mescid-Mosque” in Turkish. And then, “Mescid” can also be seen in the map prepared by Piri Reis based on Colombus’ map. This reinforces my claim that “Caribbean Islands were known by Piri Reis and other Muslim Turkish sailors since 15th century”.
RECOLLECTIONS OF GRAND TURK
• More than half of the residents of Turk and Caicos Islands is formed of people coming from Haiti and Dominican Republic.
- A great part of tourism investments comes from Canada, ABD and Europe.
- Grand Turk is also known as the paradise of money laundering for shell companies.
- Offshore Banking is quite widespread in Grand Turk.
- The head of the country is Queen Elizabeth.
- Remember traffic flows from left since it is dependent on England.
- Along with tourism, fundamental source of income is fishery and fruit growing.
- It hosts 500 foreign banks with tax-free finance services.
- The best time to see these islands is February-March.
- As is the case in Red Sea- Sharm-El Sheik, the longest coral reefs of the world are located here. Of course, diving
sports are also developped in these islands.
• Their t-shirts and hats have number 1492 and iguana symbol. Endangered rock iguanas are located inside the digit
9. Figure 1492 is the date when America was discovered.
- The only shellfish breeding farm of the world is in Grand Turk.
- The specialty of Grand Turk is “Kuskus”.