Sunday, July 4, 2010

The National Anthem of the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. It is considered a part of the geographic Western Caribbean Zone. The territory is a major offshore financial centre in the Caribbean.

The Cayman Islands were sighted by Christopher Columbus, on 10 May 1503 on his fourth and final voyage to the New World. He named the islands Las Tortugas after the numerous sea turtles there. The first recorded English visitor to the islands was Sir Francis Drake, who landed there in 1586 and named them the Cayman Islands after caiman, the Neo-Taino nations' term for alligator.

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. A variety of people settled on the islands, including pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, deserters from Oliver Cromwell's army in Jamaica, and slaves. The majority of Caymanians are of African and British descent, with considerable interracial mixing.

Great Britain took formal control of the Cayman Islands, along with Jamaica, under the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts, permanent settlement of the islands began in the 1730s. The islands, along with nearby Jamaica, were captured from the Spanish Empire, then ceded to England under the Treaty of Madrid (1670). They were governed as a single colony with Jamaica until 1962 when they became a separate British Overseas Territory and Jamaica became an independent Commonwealth realm.

The local anthem of this British colony is entitled "Beloved Isles Cayman". The words of the national song were written and put to music by Leila Ross-Shier. An organist in the Presbyterian Church, she had a great love and talent for music. "Beloved Isle Cayman" was composed in 1930 and she sang it for years accompanying herself on the guitar before it was adopted as a national song.

The stamp above is part of a set of stamps; this features the score of the national anthem and the guitar, which was used by Leila Ross to compose the song.