British Virgin Islands
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 Overseas 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.
Motto: "Vigilate" (Latin)
and largest city
|Government||British Overseas Territoryc|
|William Boyd McCleary|
|Vivian Inez Archibald|
• Responsible Ministerd (UK)
|Mark Simmonds MP|
|Legislature||House of Assembly|
|British Overseas Territory|
• Autonomous territory
|153 km2 (59 sq mi) (216th)|
• Water (%)
• 2012 estimate
• 2005 census
|260/km2 (673.4/sq mi) (68th)|
• Per capita
|Currency||United States dollar (USD)|
|Time zone||UTC-4 (AST)|
• Summer (DST)
|UTC-4 (not observed)|
|ISO 3166 code||VG|
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.
The British Virgin Islands are mostly indepependent, but some parts of the Government is run by the United Kingdom.
A new constitution was introduced in 2007. 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.
- "Central America :: British Virgin Islands — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". www.cia.gov.
- "The Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007". Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament. Retrieved 2007-08-13.