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Virgin Islands British
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Flag of British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands

Country Profile

Capital City: Road Town (on Tortola)

Other Towns: Spanish Town (on Virgin Gorda)

Local Time
: UTC -4h

Location: Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico.
Area: 153 sq km (59 sq miles)
Terrain: Coral islands are relatively flat; the volcanic islands steep and hilly.

Climate: Subtropical; humid; temperatures moderated by trade winds.

Government: Overseas territory of the UK with internal self-governing.

Nationality: British Virgin Islander(s)
Population: 22 000
Ethnic Groups: Black 83%, White, Indian, Asian and mixed.
Religions: Christianity
Languages: English, Spanish
Literacy: 98%


Currency: US Dollar (USD)

Natural resources: Sun, sand, sea, surf.

Agriculture products: Fruits, vegetables; livestock, poultry; fish.

Industries: Tourism, light industry, construction, rum, concrete block, offshore financial sevice.

Exports partners:
Virgin Islands (US), Puerto Rico, USA

Imports partners: Virgin Islands (US), Puerto Rico, USA

Internet Links

Official Sites of British Virgin Islands

BVI Government Information Service

British Virgin Islands Useful Information

UK Government
Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
UK Embassies Overseas

Map of the Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands Maps

Map of Central America and the Caribbean


British Virgin Islands

Background:  First settled by the Dutch in 1648, the islands were annexed
in 1672 by the English. The economy is closely tied to the larger and
more populous US Virgin Islands to the west; the US dollar is the legal

Geography British Virgin Islands

Location:  Caribbean, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic
Ocean, east of Puerto Rico

Geographic coordinates:  18 30 N, 64 30 W

Map references:  Central America and the Caribbean

Area:  total: 153 sq km note: comprised of 16 inhabited and more than 20
 0 sq km land:
Area - comparative:  about 0.9 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:  0 km

Coastline:  80 km

Maritime claims:  exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 3 NM

Climate:  subtropical; humid; temperatures moderated by trade winds

Terrain:  coral islands relatively flat; volcanic islands steep, hilly

Elevation extremes:  lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point:
Mount Sage 521 m

Natural resources:  NEGL

Land use:  arable land: 20% permanent crops: 7% other: 73% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  NA sq km

Natural hazards:  hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October)

Environment - current issues:  limited natural fresh water resources
(except for a few seasonal streams and springs on Tortola, most of the
islands' water supply comes from wells and rainwater catchments)

Geography - note:  strong ties to nearby US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

People British Virgin Islands

Population:  21,272 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 22.4% (male 2,401; female 2,351) 15-64 years:
72.7% (male 7,962; female 7,509) 65 years and over: 4.9% (male 565;
female 484) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  2.16% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  15.09 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  4.42 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  10.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
1.17 male(s)/female total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  19.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   76.84 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  1.72 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  NA%

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  NA

Nationality:  noun: British Virgin Islander(s) adjective: British
Virgin Islander

Ethnic groups:  black 83%, white, Indian, Asian and mixed

Religions:  Protestant 86% (Methodist 33%, Anglican 17%, Church of God 9%,
Seventh-Day Adventist 6%, Baptist 4%, Jehovah's Witnesses 2%, other 2%),
Roman Catholic 10%, none 2%, other 2% (1991)

Languages:  English (official)

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 97.8% (1991 est.)  male: NA% female: NA%

Government British Virgin Islands

Country name:  conventional long form: none conventional short form:
British Virgin Islands abbreviation: BVI

Dependency status:  overseas territory of the UK; internal self-governing

Government type:  NA

Capital:  Road Town

Administrative divisions:  none (overseas territory of the UK)

Independence:  none (overseas territory of the UK)

National holiday:  Territory Day, 1 July

Constitution:  1 June 1977

Legal system:  English law

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February
1952), represented by Governor Francis J. SAVAGE (since NA) elections:
none; the monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch;
chief minister appointed by the governor from among the members of the
Legislative Council head of government: Chief Minister Ralph T. O'NEAL
(since 15 May 1995) cabinet: Executive Council appointed by the governor
from members of the Legislative Council

Legislative branch:  unicameral Legislative Council (13 seats; members
are elected by direct popular vote, one member from each of 9 electoral
districts, four at-large members; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 17 May 1999 (next to be held NA 2003) election
results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - VIP 7, CCM 1,

Judicial branch:  Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, consisting of the
High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal (one judge of the Supreme
Court is a resident of the islands and presides over the High Court);
Magistrate's Court; Juvenile Court; Court of Summary Jurisdiction

Political parties and leaders:  Concerned Citizens Movement or CCM [Ethlyn
SMITH]; National Democratic Party or NDP [Orlando SMITH]; United Party
or UP [Gregory MADURO]; Virgin Islands Party or VIP [Ralph T. O'NEAL]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA

International organization participation:  Caricom (associate), CDB,
ECLAC (associate), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, OECS (associate), UNESCO

Diplomatic representation in the US:  none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US:  none (overseas territory of
the UK)

Flag description:  blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side
quadrant and the Virgin Islander coat of arms centered in the outer half
of the flag; the coat of arms depicts a woman flanked on either side by
a vertical column of six oil lamps above a scroll bearing the Latin word
VIGILATE (Be Watchful)

Economy British Virgin Islands

Economy - overview:  The economy, one of the most stable and prosperous in
the Caribbean, is highly dependent on tourism, generating an estimated 45%
of the national income. An estimated 350,000 tourists, mainly from the
US, visited the islands in 1998. In the mid-1980s, the government began
offering offshore registration to companies wishing to incorporate in the
islands, and incorporation fees now generate substantial revenues. Roughly
400,000 companies were on the offshore registry by yearend 2000. The
adoption of a comprehensive insurance law in late 1994, which provides
a blanket of confidentiality with regulated statutory gateways for
investigation of criminal offenses, is expected to make the British Virgin
Islands even more attractive to international business. Livestock raising
is the most important agricultural activity; poor soils limit the islands'
ability to meet domestic food requirements. Because of traditionally
close links with the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands has
used the dollar as its currency since 1959.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $311 million (2000 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  4.4% (2000 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $16,000 (2000 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 1.8% industry: 6.2% services:
92% (1996 est.)

Population below poverty line:  NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  3.3% (2000)

Labor force:  4,911 (1980)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%

Unemployment rate:  3% (1995)

Budget:  revenues: $121.5 million expenditures: $115.5 million, including
capital expenditures of $NA (1997)

Industries:  tourism, light industry, construction, rum, concrete block,
offshore financial center

Industrial production growth rate:  4% (1985)

Electricity - production:  42 million kWh (1999)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0%
(1999) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  39.1 million kWh (1999)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (1999)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (1999)

Agriculture - products:  fruits, vegetables; livestock, poultry; fish

Exports:  $6.2 million (2000 est.)

Exports - commodities:  rum, fresh fish, fruits, animals; gravel, sand

Exports - partners:  Virgin Islands (US), Puerto Rico, US

Imports:  $230 million (2000 est.)

Imports - commodities:  building materials, automobiles, foodstuffs,

Imports - partners:  Virgin Islands (US), Puerto Rico, US

Debt - external:  $36.1 million (1997)

Economic aid - recipient:  NA

Currency:  US dollar (USD)

Currency code:  USD

Exchange rates:  the US dollar is used

Fiscal year:  1 April - 31 March

Communications British Virgin Islands

Telephones - main lines in use:  10,000 (1996)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  NA

Telephone system:  general assessment: worldwide telephone service
domestic: NA international: submarine cable to Bermuda

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios:  9,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  1 (plus one cable company) (1997)

Televisions:  4,000 (1997)

Internet country code:  .vg

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  16 (2000)

Internet users:  NA

Transportation British Virgin Islands

Railways:  0 km

Highways:  total: 177 km paved: 177 km unpaved: 0 km (2000)

Waterways:  none

Ports and harbors:  Road Town

Merchant marine:  total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 70,285
GRT/6,946 DWT ships by type: passenger 1 (2002 est.)

Airports:  3 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 2 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m:
1 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001)

Military British Virgin Islands

Military - note:  defense is the responsibility of the UK

Transnational Issues British Virgin Islands

Disputes - international:  none

Illicit drugs:  transshipment point for South American narcotics destined
for the US and Europe

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

Island Sun

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The British Virgin Islands

Guide to British Virgin Islands


Virgin Gorda

Jost Van Dyke


Limin' Times

H. Lavity Stoutt Community College - HLSCC

Association of Reef Keepers

National Parks Trust of the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands - History

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Virgin Islands History




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