British Virgin Islands

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Virgin Islands
Overseas territory of the United Kingdom

Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Vigilate" (Latin)
"Be Vigilant"
Anthem: God Save the Queen  (official)
Territorial song: Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands  (official)
and largest city
Road Town
18°25.883′N 64°37.383′W / 18.431383°N 64.62305°W / 18.431383; -64.62305
Official languages English
Ethnic groups
Demonym Virgin Islander
Government British Overseas Territoryc
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Governor William Boyd McCleary
 -  Deputy Governor Vivian Inez Archibald
 -  Premier Orlando Smith
 -  Responsible Ministerd (UK) Mark Simmonds MP
Legislature House of Assembly
British Overseas Territory
 -  Separate 1960 
 -  Autonomous territory 1967 
 -  Total 153 km2 (216th)
59 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 1.6
 -  2012 estimate 27,800[1]
 -  2005 census 27,000[2] (212th)
 -  Density 260/km2 (68th)
673/sq mi
GDP (PPP) estimate
 -  Total $853.4 million[3]
 -  Per capita $43,366
Currency United States dollar (USD)
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC-4)
Calling code +1-284
Internet TLD .vg
a. Mostly British and Portuguese.
b. Mostly Puerto Ricans.
c. Parliamentary democratic dependency under constitutional monarchy.
d. For the Overseas Territories.

The British Virgin Islands are part of the Virgin Islands, which are chain of islands in the Caribbean. The British Virgin Islands are the Eastern half of the island chain, and they are a British Overeas Territory. The British Virgin Islands has sixteen inhabited and more than twenty uninhabited islands. Over 22,000 people live there, which is many fewer than the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands.

The capital city, Road Town, is on Tortola, one of the islands in the group. Most of the people live on Tortola, but the other main inhabited islands are Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.

History[change | change source]

The islands were originally inhabited by Caribbean indians called Arawaks. But by the time the first European explorers discovered the British Virgin Islands all of the Arawaks had left. The first Europeans to try and settle in the British Virgin Islands were the Dutch, but the English came soon after and the English and the Dutch settlers used to fight. The Spanish also claimed the islands, but no Spanish people ever tried to settle there. But the Spanish did attack the British and Dutch settlers.

In 1672 the British took control of the islands during a war against the Dutch and they have held on to them ever since.

During the early years after European settlement the British Virgin Islands was a plantation economy which relied heavily upon slave labour. After slavery was abolished in the British Virgin Islands there was a long period of decline and many people left. Those who remained were mostly descended from African slaves, although many of them also left to try and find better lives elsewhere.

In the 1950s the British Virgin Islands got its own government, and the economy of the islands began to get better with the introduction of tourism and financial services.

Government[change | change source]

The British Virgin Islands are mostly indepependent, but some parts of the Government is run by the United Kingdom.

A new constitution was given in 2007.[4] It grants more control over everyday life to the Islanders, and lists the protection a person can expect from the government. The head of Government in the British Virgin Islands is called the Premier, and he is in charge of a group of ministers of Government which is called the Cabinet. Laws are passed by a group of elected politicans in the House of Assembly. Most of the international relations are still dealt with by the British Government in London on behalf of the people of the British Virgin Islands.

Economy[change | change source]

Most people in the British Virgin Islands work in the tourist trade or in financial services. There are also a small number of farmers and fishermen.

References[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

A visual guide to the British Virgin Islands