Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine, located in the north-central part of the country on the Dnieper. The population in July 2015 was 2,887,974. Kiev is an important industrial, scientific and cultural center of Eastern Europe, it is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions, world-famous historical landmarks. The city has an extensive infrastructure and developed system of public transport, including the Kiev Metro; the city's name is said to derive from the name of one of its four legendary founders. During its history, one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of great prominence and relative obscurity; the city existed as a commercial centre as early as the 5th century. A Slavic settlement on the great trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople, Kiev was a tributary of the Khazars, until its capture by the Varangians in the mid-9th century. Under Varangian rule, the city became a capital of the first East Slavic state.
Destroyed during the Mongol invasions in 1240, the city lost most of its influence for the centuries to come. It was a provincial capital of marginal importance in the outskirts of the territories controlled by its powerful neighbours; the city prospered again during the Russian Empire's Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. In 1917, after the Ukrainian National Republic declared independence from the Russian Empire, Kiev became its capital. From 1921 onwards Kiev was a city of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, proclaimed by the Red Army, from 1934, Kiev was its capital. During World War II, the city again suffered significant damage, but recovered in the post-war years, remaining the third largest city of the Soviet Union. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian independence in 1991, Kiev remained the capital of Ukraine and experienced a steady migration influx of ethnic Ukrainians from other regions of the country. During the country's transformation to a market economy and electoral democracy, Kiev has continued to be Ukraine's largest and richest city.
Kiev's armament-dependent industrial output fell after the Soviet collapse, adversely affecting science and technology. But new sectors of the economy such as services and finance facilitated Kiev's growth in salaries and investment, as well as providing continuous funding for the development of housing and urban infrastructure. Kiev emerged as the most pro-Western region of Ukraine where parties advocating tighter integration with the European Union dominate during elections. Kiev is the traditional and most used English name for the city; the Ukrainian government however uses Kyiv as the mandatory romanization where legislative and official acts are translated into English. As a prominent city with a long history, its English name was subject to gradual evolution; the early English spelling was derived from Old East Slavic form Kyjevŭ. The name is associated with that of the legendary eponymous founder of the city. Early English sources use various names, including Kiou, Kiew, Kiovia. On one of the oldest English maps of the region, Moscoviae et Tartariae published by Ortelius the name of the city is spelled Kiou.
On the 1650 map by Guillaume de Beauplan, the name of the city is Kiiow, the region was named Kÿowia. In the book Travels, by Joseph Marshall, the city is referred to as Kiovia; the form Kiev is based on Russian orthography and pronunciation, during a time when Kiev was in the Russian Empire. In English, Kiev was used in print as early as in 1804 in the John Cary's "New map of Europe, from the latest authorities" in "Cary's new universal atlas" published in London; the English travelogue titled New Russia: Journey from Riga to the Crimea by way of Kiev, by Mary Holderness was published in 1823. By 1883, the Oxford English Dictionary included Kiev in a quotation. Kyiv is the romanized version of the name of the city used in modern Ukrainian. Following independence in 1991, the Ukrainian government introduced the national rules for transliteration of geographic names from Ukrainian into English. According to the rules, the Ukrainian Київ transliterates into Kyiv; this has established the use of the spelling Kyiv in all official documents issued by the governmental authorities since October 1995.
The spelling is used by the United Nations, European Union, all English-speaking foreign diplomatic missions, several international organizations, Encarta encyclopedia, by some media in Ukraine. In October 2006, the United States Board on Geographic Names unanimously voted to change its standard transliteration to Kyiv, effective for the entire U. S. government, although'Kiev' remains the BGN conventional name for this city. The alternate romanizations Kyyiv and Kyjiv are in use in English-language atlases. Many major English-language news sources like the BBC, The New York Times continue to prefer Kiev, but others have adopted Kyiv in their style guides, including The Economist and The Guardian. Kiev, one of the oldest cities of Eastern Europe, played a pivotal role in the development of the medieval East Slavic civilization as well as in the modern Ukrainian nation. Scholars debate as to period of the foundation of the city: some date the founding to the late 9th century, other historians
Béziers is a town and commune in the Occitanie region of Southern France. In 2014, it had a population of 75,701. Béziers hosts the famous Feria de Béziers, centred on bullfighting, every August. A million visitors are attracted to the five-day event. Béziers is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network; the town is located on a small bluff above the river Orb, about 10 km from the Mediterranean coast, 75 km southwest of Montpellier. At Béziers, the Canal du Midi spans the river Orb as an aqueduct called the Pont-canal de l'Orb, claimed to be the first of its kind. Béziers is one of the oldest cities in France. Research published in March 2013 shows that Béziers dates from 575 BC, making it older than Agde and a bit younger than Marseille The site has been occupied since Neolithic times, before the influx of Celts. Roman Betarra was on the road that linked Provence with Iberia; the Romans refounded the city as a new colonia for veterans in 36–35 BC and called it Colonia Julia Baeterrae Septimanorum.
Stones from the Roman amphitheatre were used to construct the city wall during the 3rd century. White wine was exported to Rome. A dolia discovered in an excavation near Rome is marked "I am a wine from Baeterrae and I am five years old", it was occupied by the Moors between 720 and 752. From the 10th to the 12th century, Béziers was the centre of a Viscountship of Béziers; the viscounts ruled most of the coastal plain around Béziers, including the town of Agde. They controlled the major east-west route through Languedoc, which follows the old Roman Via Domitia, with the two key bridges over the Orb at Béziers and over the Hérault at Saint-Thibéry. After the death of Viscount William around 990, the viscounty passed to his daughter Garsendis and her husband, count Raimond-Roger of Carcassonne, it was ruled by their son Peter-Raimond and his son Roger, both of whom were Counts of Carcassonne. Roger died without issue and Béziers passed to his sister Ermengard and her husband Raimond-Bertrand Trencavel.
The Trencavels ruled for the next 142 years, until the Albigensian Crusade, a formal crusade authorised by Pope Innocent III. Béziers was a Languedoc stronghold of Catharism, which the Catholic Church condemned as heretical and which Catholic forces exterminated in the Albigensian Crusade. Béziers was the first place to be attacked; the crusaders reached the town on July 21, 1209. Béziers' Catholics were given an ultimatum to hand over the heretics or leave before the crusaders besieged the city and to "avoid sharing their fate and perishing with them". However, they resisted with the Cathars; the town was sacked the following day and in the bloody massacre, no one was spared, not Catholic priests and those who took refuge in the churches. One of the commanders of the crusade was the Papal Legate Arnaud-Amaury; when asked by a crusader how to tell Catholics from Cathars once they had taken the city, the abbot replied, "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius". Amalric's own version of the siege, described in his letter to Pope Innocent III in August 1209, states: While discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low rank and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders.
To our amazement, crying "to arms, to arms!", within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, put to the sword 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt... The invaders burned the Cathedral of Saint Nazaire, which collapsed on those who had taken refuge inside; the town was burnt. By some accounts, none was left alive - by others, there were a handful of survivors. Despite the massacre, the city was repopulated. A few parts of the Romanesque cathedral of St-Nazaire had survived the carnage, repairs started in 1215; the restoration, along with that of the rest of the city, continued until the 15th century. Béziers became part of the royal domain in 1247. Rule of the city was for a long time divided among three powers: the Bishopric, which reached its apogee in the 16th and 17th centuries when it was held by the Bonsi family, allied to the Medici. Béziers was not damaged in the Hundred Years War.
On September 8, 1381, a riot broke out at the seat of the municipal council, rioters setting the Town House on fire. The councillors tried to take refuge in the tower, but fire spread there as well, they all died either by fire or in jumping from the tower to the square. King Charles IX passed through the city during his royal tour of France, accompanied by the Court and the great men of the kingdom: his brother the Duke of Anjou, Henri of Navarre, the cardinals of Bourbon and Lorraine. In 1551, Béziers became the seat of a Seneschal, being removed from the jurisdiction
Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States is the world's longest bi-national land border, its capital is Ottawa, its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra, its population is urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. Canada's climate varies across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons. Various indigenous peoples have inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years prior to European colonization. Beginning in the 16th century and French expeditions explored, settled, along the Atlantic coast.
As a consequence of various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces; this began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament. Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition, with Elizabeth II as its queen and a prime minister who serves as the chair of the federal cabinet and head of government; the country is a realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie and bilingual at the federal level. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, education.
It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture. A developed country, Canada has the sixteenth-highest nominal per capita income globally as well as the twelfth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index, its advanced economy is the tenth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. While a variety of theories have been postulated for the etymological origins of Canada, the name is now accepted as coming from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement".
In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier to the village of Stadacona. Cartier used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village but to the entire area subject to Donnacona. From the 16th to the early 18th century "Canada" referred to the part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River. In 1791, the area became two British colonies called Upper Canada and Lower Canada collectively named the Canadas. Upon Confederation in 1867, Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country at the London Conference, the word Dominion was conferred as the country's title. By the 1950s, the term Dominion of Canada was no longer used by the United Kingdom, which considered Canada a "Realm of the Commonwealth"; the government of Louis St. Laurent ended the practice of using'Dominion' in the Statutes of Canada in 1951. In 1982, the passage of the Canada Act, bringing the Constitution of Canada under Canadian control, referred only to Canada, that year the name of the national holiday was changed from Dominion Day to Canada Day.
The term Dominion was used to distinguish the federal government from the provinces, though after the Second World War the term federal had replaced dominion. Indigenous peoples in present-day Canada include the First Nations, Métis, the last being a mixed-blood people who originated in the mid-17th century when First Nations and Inuit people married European settlers; the term "Aboriginal" as a collective noun is a specific term of art used in some legal documents, including the Constitution Act 1982. The first inhabitants of North America are hypothesized to have migrated from Siberia by way of the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 14,000 years ago; the Paleo-Indian archeological sites at Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are two of the oldest sites of human habitation in Canada. The characteristics of Canadian indigenous societies included permanent settlements, complex societal hierarchies, trading networks; some of these cultures had collapsed by the time European explorers arrived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and have only been discovered through archeological investigations.
The indigenous population at the time of the first European settlements is estimated to have been between 200,000
Shermine Shahrivar is an Iranian-born model and beauty pageant titleholder who won Miss Europe 2005. She became Miss Germany in 2004 and won the overall title of Miss Europe in 2005 while competing in France, she was born to Iranian parents. Her family moved to Germany, her mother and brothers live in Germany. She was raised speaking German and Persian, she is fluent in French and English. Shahrivar has a university degree in social sciences. Shermine Shahrivar was selected to be the host of the Oberhausen, Germany Nowruz celebration, said to be the largest in the World, on March 19, 2005, she hosted Traumpartner TV in Germany from December 2004 to August 2005. Shermine at Model Management Iran-Plus photos Persian Mirror article American Apparel Models
A beauty pageant or beauty contest is a competition that has traditionally focused on judging and ranking the physical attributes of the contestants, although most contests have evolved to incorporate personality traits, intelligence and answers to judges' questions as judged criteria. The term refers to contests for women such as the Big Four international beauty pageants; the organizers of each pageant may determine the rules of the competition, including the age range of contestants. The rules may require the contestants to be unmarried, be "virtuous", "amateur", available for promotions, besides other criteria, it may set the clothing standards in which contestants will be judged, including the type of swimsuit. Beauty pageants are multi-tiered, with local competitions feeding into the larger competitions. For example, the international pageants have thousands of local competitions. Child beauty pageants focus on beauty, sportswear modelling and personal interviews. Adult and teen pageants focus on makeup and gowns, swimsuit modelling, personal interviews.
A winner of a beauty contest is called a beauty queen. The rankings of the contestants are referred to as placements. Possible awards of beauty contests include titles, tiaras or crowns, scepters, savings bonds and cash prizes; however and teen pageants have been moving more towards judging speaking. Some pageants award college scholarships, to multiple runners-up. European festivals dating to the medieval era provide the most direct lineage for beauty pageants. For example, English May Day celebrations always involved the selection of a May Queen. In the United States, the May Day tradition of selecting a woman to serve as a symbol of bounty and community ideals continued, as young beautiful women participated in public celebrations. A beauty pageant was held during the Eglinton Tournament of 1839, organized by Archibald Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton, as part of a re-enactment of a medieval joust, held in Scotland; the pageant was won by Georgiana Seymour, Duchess of Somerset, the wife of Edward Seymour, 12th Duke of Somerset, sister of Caroline Norton, she was proclaimed as the "Queen of Beauty".
Entrepreneur Phineas Taylor Barnum staged the first modern American pageant in 1854, but his beauty contest was closed down after public protest. Beauty contests became more popular in the 1880s. In 1888, the title of'beauty queen' was awarded to an 18-year-old Creole contestant at a pageant in Spa, Belgium. All participants had to supply a photograph and a short description of themselves to be eligible to enter and a final selection of 21 was judged by a formal panel; such events were not regarded as respectable. Beauty contests came to be considered more respectable with the first modern "Miss America" contest held in 1921; the oldest pageant still in operation today is the Miss America pageant, organized in 1921 by a local businessman as a means to entice tourists to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The pageant hosted the winners of local newspaper beauty contests in the "Inter-City Beauty" Contest, attended by over one hundred thousand people. Sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman of Washington, D. C. was crowned Miss America 1921, having won both the popularity and beauty contests, was awarded $100.
In May 1920, promoter C. E. Barfield of Galveston, Texas organized a new event known as "Splash Day" on the island; the event featured a "Bathing Girl Revue" competition as the centerpiece of its attractions. The event was the kick-off of the summer tourist season in the city and was carried forward annually; the event became known outside of Texas and, beginning in 1926, the world's first international contest was added, known as the International Pageant of Pulchritude. This contest is said to have served as a model for modern pageants, it featured contestants from England, Russia and many other nations and the title awarded at the time was known as "Miss Universe". The event was discontinued in the United States in 1932 because of the Depression; the popularity of the Miss America pageant prompted other organizations to establish similar contests in the 1950s and beyond. Some were significant; the Miss World contest started in 1951, Miss Universe started in 1952 as did Miss USA. Miss International started in 1960.
Miss Asia Pacific International started in 1968. The Miss Black America contest started in 1968 in response to the exclusion of African American women from the Miss America pageant; the Miss Universe Organization started the Miss Teen USA in 1983 for the 14-19 age group. Miss Earth started in 2001, which channels the beauty pageant entertainment industry as an effective tool to promote the preservation of the environment; these contests continue to this day. The requirement for contestants to wear a swimsuit was a controversial aspect of the various competitions; the controversy was heightened with the increasing popularity of the bikini after its introduction in 1946. The bikini was banned for the Miss America contest in 1947 because of Roman Catholic protesters; when the Miss World contest started in 1951, there was an outcry when the winner was crowned in a bikini. Pope Pius XII condemned the crowning as sinful, countries with religious traditions threatened to withdraw delegates; the bikini was banned for other contests.
It was not until the late 1990s that they became permitted again, but still generated controversy when finals were held in countries where bikinis were disapproved. For example, in 2003, Vida Samadzai from Afghanistan caused
Angola the Republic of Angola, is a west-coast country of south-central Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola has an exclave province, the province of Cabinda that borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda. Although inhabited since the Paleolithic Era, what is now Angola was molded by Portuguese colonisation, it began with, was for centuries limited to, coastal settlements and trading posts established starting in the 16th century. In the 19th century, European settlers and hesitantly began to establish themselves in the interior; the Portuguese colony that became Angola did not have its present borders until the early 20th century because of resistance by groups such as the Cuamato, the Kwanyama and the Mbunda. After a protracted anti-colonial struggle, independence was achieved in 1975 as the Marxist–Leninist People's Republic of Angola, a one-party state supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba.
The civil war between the ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola and the insurgent anti-communist National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, supported by the United States and South Africa, lasted until 2002. The sovereign state has since become a stable unitary, presidential constitutional republic. Angola has vast mineral and petroleum reserves, its economy is among the fastest-growing in the world since the end of the civil war. Angola's economic growth is uneven, with most of the nation's wealth concentrated in a disproportionately small sector of the population. Angola is a member state of the United Nations, OPEC, African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Southern African Development Community. A multiethnic country, Angola's 25.8 million people span tribal groups and traditions. Angolan culture reflects centuries of Portuguese rule, in the predominance of the Portuguese language and of the Catholic Church; the name Angola comes from the Portuguese colonial name Reino de Angola, which appeared as early as Dias de Novais's 1571 charter.
The toponym was derived by the Portuguese from the title ngola held by the kings of Ndongo. Ndongo in the highlands, between the Kwanza and Lukala Rivers, was nominally a possession of the Kingdom of Kongo, but was seeking greater independence in the 16th century. Modern Angola was populated predominantly by nomadic Khoi and San prior to the first Bantu migrations; the Khoi and San peoples hunter-gatherers. They were displaced by Bantu peoples arriving from the north, most of whom originated in what is today northwestern Nigeria and southern Niger. Bantu speakers introduced the cultivation of bananas and taro, as well as large cattle herds, to Angola's central highlands and the Luanda plain. Hendese Bantu established a number of political entities, it established trade routes with other city-states and civilisations up and down the coast of southwestern and western Africa and with Great Zimbabwe and the Mutapa Empire, although it engaged in little or no transoceanic trade. To its south lay the Kingdom of Ndongo, from which the area of the Portuguese colony was sometimes known as Dongo.
Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão reached the area in 1484. The previous year, the Portuguese had established relations with the Kongo, which stretched at the time from modern Gabon in the north to the Kwanza River in the south; the Portuguese established their primary early trading post at Soyo, now the northernmost city in Angola apart from the Cabinda exclave. Paulo Dias de Novais founded São Paulo de Loanda in 1575 with a hundred families of settlers and four hundred soldiers. Benguela was fortified in 1587 and became a township in 1617; the Portuguese established several other settlements and trading posts along the Angolan coast, principally trading in Angolan slaves for Brazilian plantations. Local slave dealers provided a large number of slaves for the Portuguese Empire in exchange for manufactured goods from Europe; this part of the Atlantic slave trade continued until after Brazil's independence in the 1820s. Despite Portugal's territorial claims in Angola, its control over much of the country's vast interior was minimal.
In the 16th century Portugal gained control of the coast through a series of wars. Life for European colonists was progress slow. John Iliffe notes that "Portuguese records of Angola from the 16th century show that a great famine occurred on average every seventy years. During the Portuguese Restoration War, the Dutch West India Company occupied the principal settlement of Luanda in 1641, using alliances with local peoples to carry out attacks against Portuguese holdings elsewhere. A fleet under Salvador de Sá retook Luanda in 1648. New treaties with the Kongo were signed in 1649.
The Cayman Islands is an autonomous British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea. The 264-square-kilometre territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are located to the south of Cuba and northeast of Honduras, between Jamaica and the Yucatán Peninsula; as of spring 2018, the total population of the Cayman Islands is estimated to be 64,420 making it the second-most populated British overseas territory after Bermuda. The capital city is George Town, situated on Grand Cayman, by far the most populous of the three islands; the Cayman Islands is considered to be part of the geographic Western Caribbean Zone as well as the Greater Antilles. The territory is considered a major world offshore financial haven for international businesses and many wealthy individuals; the Cayman Islands remained uninhabited until the 17th century. While there is no archaeological evidence for an indigenous people on the islands, a variety of settlers from various backgrounds made their home on the islands, including pirates, shipwrecked sailors, deserters from Oliver Cromwell's army in Jamaica.
The first recorded permanent inhabitant of the Cayman Islands, Isaac Bodden, was born on Grand Cayman around 1661. He was the grandson of the original settler named Bodden, one of Oliver Cromwell's soldiers at the taking of Jamaica in 1655. England took formal control of the Cayman Islands, along with Jamaica, as a result of the Treaty of Madrid of 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts at settlement, a permanent English-speaking population in the islands dates from the 1730s. With settlement, after the first royal land grant by the Governor of Jamaica in 1734, came the perceived need for slaves. Many were brought to the islands from Africa; the results of the first census taken in the islands in 1802 showed the population on Grand Cayman to be 933 with 545 of those inhabitants being enslaved. Slavery was abolished in the Cayman Islands in 1833. At the time of abolition, there were over 950 Blacks of African ancestry enslaved by 116 white families of English ancestry; the islands continued to be governed as part of the Colony of Jamaica until 1962, when they became a separate Crown colony while Jamaica became an independent Commonwealth realm.
On 8 February 1794, the Caymanians rescued the crews of a group of ten merchant ships, including HMS Convert, an incident that has since become known as the Wreck of the Ten Sail. The ships had struck a run aground during rough seas. Legend has it that King George III rewarded the island with a promise never to introduce taxes as compensation for their generosity, as one of the ships carried a member of the King's own family. While this remains a popular legend, the story is not true; the Cayman Islands has been a tax-exempt destination. The government of the Cayman Islands has always relied on not direct taxes; the territory has never levied income tax, capital gains tax, or any wealth tax, making them a popular tax haven. On 11 September 2004 the island of Grand Cayman, which lies unprotected at sea level, was hit by Hurricane Ivan, creating an 8-ft storm surge which flooded many areas of Grand Cayman. An estimated 83% of the dwellings on the island were damaged including 4% requiring complete reconstruction.
A reported 70 % of all dwellings suffered severe damage from wind. Another 26% sustained minor damage from partial roof removal, low levels of flooding, or impact with floating or wind driven hurricane debris. Power and communications were disrupted for months in some areas as Ivan was the worst hurricane to hit the islands in 86 years. Grand Cayman began a major rebuilding process and within two years its infrastructure was nearly returned to pre-hurricane status. Due to the tropical location of the islands, more hurricanes or tropical systems have affected the Cayman Islands than any other region in the Atlantic basin; the islands are in the western Caribbean Sea and are the peaks of a massive underwater ridge, known as the Cayman Ridge. This ridge flanks the Cayman Trough, 6,000 m deep; the islands lie in the northwest of the Caribbean Sea, east of Quintana Roo and Yucatán State, northeast of Costa Rica, north of Panama, south of Cuba and west of Jamaica. They are situated about 700 km south of Miami, 750 km east of Mexico, 366 km south of Cuba, about 500 km northwest of Jamaica.
Grand Cayman is by far the largest, with an area of 197 km2. Grand Cayman's two "sister islands", Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, are about 120 km east north-east of Grand Cayman and have areas of 38 and 28.5 km2 respectively. The nearest land mass from Grand Cayman is the Canarreos Archipelago, whereas the nearest from the eastermost island Cayman Brac is the Jardines de la Reina archipelago - both of which are part of Cuba. All three islands were formed by large coral heads covering submerged ice age peaks of western extensions of the Cuban Sierra Maestra range and are flat. One notable exception to this is The Bluff on Cayman Brac's eastern part, which rises to 43 m above sea level, the highest point on the islands. Terrain is a low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs; the mammalian species in the Cayman Islands include the introduced Central American agouti and eight species of bats. At least three now extinct native rodent species were present up until the discovery of the islands by Europeans.