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The Turks and Caicos Islands are a group of more than 40 islands and cays. The extremely hot, dry conditions led to natural salt production in the interior wetlands of the islands, leading to one of the first and major international salt industries in the Americas. The smaller cays are important for breeding seabirds, and endemic reptiles, invertebrates and plants. The wetlands are globally important for shorebirds.
The Turks and Caicos have a high number of endemic species and others of international importance, partially dependent on the conditions created by the oldest established salt-pan development in the Caribbean. The property has a high number of endemic species of lizards, snakes, insects and plants, showing genetic differences between the different islands. The islands are also important as a breeding area for seabirds - one of the three most important in the Caribbean - and is a wetland site of international importance containing a variety of marine and coastal habitat types and complex natural transitions. There are also shallow inland ponds of various sizes linked to the sea in times of storm and/or via subterranean channels.
The islands have several species of endemic plants, reptiles, insects and birds which depend on the salt islands and the small cays as rich feeding and nesting grounds. Iguanas and other reptiles include remnant populations on Salt Cay and South Caicos and more robust populations on some other cays. The site is globally important as the habitat for the most important populations in the Caribbean of several bird species, and for several species and sub-species of threatened endemic reptiles, insects, plants and birds.
(x) The islands have several species of endemic plants, reptiles, insects and birds which depend on the salt islands and the small cays as rich feeding and nesting grounds. Iguanas and other reptiles include remnant populations on Salt Cay and South Caicos and more robust populations on some other cays.
Integrity: the site represents a complex mixture of human activities associated with salt pan construction and related dependencies of endemic reptiles, insects, plants and birds. The proposed site is of sufficient size, and contains the necessary habitats, to maintain a diverse fauna and viable populations.
Marine salt pan ecosystems are under-represented on the World Heritage List. Peninsula Valdes (Argentina) Shark Bay (Australia), coastal sites, have salt pan components and Wood Buffalo National Park (Canada) has freshwater salt flats The Makgadikgadi Pans Landscape Tentative List site (Botswana) is the largest salt pan in the world but represents a former inland sea in the world, and is supplied with fresh water, rather than a coastal marine pan system.