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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 the Cayman Islands inhabitants are of African and British descent, with considerable interracial mixing.
The highest point in the Cayman Islands is the Bluff on the island of Cayman Brac. Grand Cayman is the largest of the islands, measuring seven miles across, at its widest, and twenty-eight miles long. Cayman Brac is the second largest island. All three Cayman Islands are submerged mountains tops. Cayman Islands, along with Jamaica, were ceded to Britain by Spain in 1670. The Cayman Islands were colonized from Jamaica by the British during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In 2004 Hurricane Ivan, a Category 5 hurricane, hit the Cayman Islands damaging many structures on Grand Cayman. It is estimated that up to a quarter of the buildings were destroyed. The Head of State of the Cayman Islands is Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a Governor.