About British Virgin Islands [ Territory ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of British Virgin Islands; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this territory.

Location

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

Climate

Subtropical; humid; temperatures moderated by trade winds

Terrain

Coral islands relatively flat; volcanic islands steep, hilly

Elevation

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

Geo Notes

Strong ties to nearby US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

Approved Official Names

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

Capital City

name: Road Town
geographic coordinates: 18 27 N, 64 37 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions

None (overseas territory of the UK)

Natuaral Hazards

Hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October)

Environmental 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)

Life Expectancy

total population: 77.45 years
male: 76.18 years
female: 78.78 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.045 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.07 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

English (official)

Religions Practiced

Protestant 86% (Methodist 33%, Anglican 17%, Church of God 9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 6%, Baptist 4%, Jehovah's Witnesses 2%, other 15%), Roman Catholic 10%, other 2%, none 2% (1991)

Legal System

English law

National Holiday

Territory Day, 1 July (1956)

Illicit Drugs

Transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe; large offshore financial center makes it vulnerable to money laundering

Telephone System

general assessment: worldwide telephone service
domestic: fixed line connections exceed 80 per 100 persons and mobile cellular subscribership is approaching 100 per 100 persons
international: country code - 1-284; connected via submarine cable to Bermuda; the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) submarine cable provides connectivity to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean (2008)

Broadcast Media

1 private TV station; multi-channel TV is available from cable and satellite subscription services; about a half dozen private radio stations operating (2007)

Background

First inhabited by Arawak and later by Carib Indians, the Virgin Islands were settled by the Dutch in 1648 and then annexed by the English in 1672. The islands were part of the British colony of the Leeward Islands from 1872-1960; they were granted autonomy in 1967. The economy is closely tied to the larger and more populous US Virgin Islands to the west; the US dollar is the legal currency.

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. More than 934,000 tourists, mainly from the US, visited the islands in 2008. 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, made 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 US dollar as its currency since 1959.

National Anthem

note: as a territory of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)

British Virgin Islands location map
Size

total: 151 sq km
land: 151 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: comprised of 16 inhabited and more than 20 uninhabited islands; includes the islands of Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke

British Virgin Islands flag
Population

24,939 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

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

Ethnic Groups

black 82%, white 6.8%, other 11.2% (includes Indian and mixed) (2008)

HIV/AIDS Rate

NA

Dependency Of

Overseas territory of the UK; internal self-governing

Independence Date

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Government Type

NA

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

4,000 (2002)

Internet Hosts

497 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.vg

Number Airports

4 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2010)

Roadways

total: 200 km
paved: 200 km (2007)

Ports & Terminals

Road Harbor

National Budget

revenues: $204.7 million
expenditures: $180.4 million (2004)

Account Balance

$134.3 million (1999)

Exchange Rates

the US dollar is used

Inflation Rate

7.1% (2008)
2% (2005)

Main Industries

Tourism, light industry, construction, rum, concrete block, offshore financial center

Agricultural Products

Fruits, vegetables; livestock, poultry; fish

Labor Force

12,770 (2004)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 0.6%
industry: 40%
services: 59.4% (2005)

Unemployment Rate

3.6% (1997)

GDP (USD Parity)

$853.4 million (2004 est.)

GDP Per Capita

$38,500 (2004 est.)

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Below Poverty

NA%