British Virgin Islands

British overseas territory in the Caribbean

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

Virgin Islands
Overseas territory of the United Kingdom
Flag of British Virgin Islands
Coat of arms of British Virgin Islands
Coat of arms
Motto: "Vigilate" (Latin)
"Be Vigilant"
Anthem: God Save the Queen  (official)
Territorial song: Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands  (official)
Location of British Virgin Islands
and largest city
Road Town
18°25.883′N 64°37.383′W / 18.431383°N 64.623050°W / 18.431383; -64.623050
Official languagesEnglish
Ethnic groups
Demonym(s)British Virgin Islander
GovernmentBritish Overseas Territoryc
• Monarch
Charles III
• Governor
William Boyd McCleary
Vivian Inez Archibald
• Premier
Orlando Smith
• Responsible Ministerd (UK)
Mark Simmonds MP
LegislatureHouse of Assembly
British Overseas Territory
• Separate
• Autonomous territory
• Total
153 km2 (59 sq mi) (216th)
• Water (%)
• 2012 estimate
• 2005 census
27,000[2] (212th)
• Density
260/km2 (673.4/sq mi) (68th)
GDP (PPP)estimate
• Total
$853.4 million[3]
• Per capita
CurrencyUnited States dollar (USD)
Time zoneUTC-4 (AST)
• Summer (DST)
UTC-4 (not observed)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+1-284
ISO 3166 codeVG

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 include Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.



The islands were originally lived in by Caribbean Indians called Arawaks. 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.



The British Virgin Islands are mostly self-governing, but some parts of the government is run by the United Kingdom.

A new constitution was introduced 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 politicians 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.



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.


  1. "Overseas Hiring Reduced; Census Report Likely To Show Population At 27,800 - |". Archived from the original on 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  2. "Country Profile: British Virgin Islands (British Overseas Territory)". Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  3. "Central America :: British Virgin Islands — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". Archived from the original on 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  4. "The Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007". Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament. Retrieved 2007-08-13.

Other websites


  Media related to British Virgin Islands at Wikimedia Commons