Coordinates: 18°30′N 64°30′W

Virgin Islands
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Vigilate" (Latin)
"Be Vigilant"
Anthem: "God Save the Queen"
Territorial song: "Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands"
Location of  British Virgin Islands  (circled in red)in the Caribbean  (light yellow)
Location of British Virgin Islands  (circled in red)

in the Caribbean  (light yellow)

Status British Overseas Territory
Capital
and largest city
Road Town
18°25.883′N 64°37.383′W
Official languages English
Ethnic groups
Demonym Virgin Islander
Government Parliamentary dependency under constitutional monarchy
 •  Monarch Elizabeth II
 •  Governor John Duncan
 •  Deputy Governor V. Inez Archibald
 •  Premier Orlando Smith
 •  Responsible Ministerb (UK) James Duddridge MP
Legislature House of Assembly
Established as a dependency of the United Kingdom
 •  Separate 1960 
 •  Autonomy 1967 
Area
 •  Total 153 km2 (216th)
59 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 1.6
Population
 •  2010 census 28,054[1] (212th)
 •  Density 260/km2 (68th)
673/sq mi
GDP (PPP) estimate
 •  Total $853.4 million[2]
 •  Per capita $43,366
Currency United States dollar (USD)
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
Drives on the left
Calling code +1-284
ISO 3166 code VG
Internet TLD .vg
a. Source for all ethnic groups including labels: 2010 Census of Population
b. For the Overseas Territories.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI), officially the Virgin Islands, is a British overseas territory located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands make up part of the Virgin Islands archipelago; the remaining islands constitute the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands.

The official name of the Territory is still simply the "Virgin Islands", but the prefix "British" is often used to distinguish it from the neighbouring American territory which changed its name from the "Danish West Indies" to "Virgin Islands of the United States" in 1917. British Virgin Islands government publications continue to begin with the name "The Territory of the Virgin Islands", and the Territory's passports simply refer to the "Virgin Islands", and all laws begin with the words "Virgin Islands". Moreover, the Territory's Constitutional Commission has expressed the view that "every effort should be made", to encourage the use of the name "Virgin Islands".

The 150-square-kilometre (58-square-mile) British Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, along with over fifty other smaller islands and cays. About 15 of the islands are inhabited. The capital, Road Town, is situated on Tortola, the largest island, which is approximately 20 km (12 mi) long and 5 km (3 mi) wide. The islands have a population of about 28,000, of whom approximately 23,500 live on Tortola.

British Virgin Islanders are classed as British Overseas Territories citizens and since 2002 have had an entitlement to take up full UK citizenship. Although the territory is not part of the European Union and not directly subject to EU law, its citizens are deemed to be citizens of the EU as well.

Tortola /tɔːrˈtlə/ is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands, a group of islands that form part of the archipelago of the Virgin Islands. It has a surface area of 55 square kilometres (21 square miles) with a total population of 23,908, with 9400 residents in Road Town. Mount Sage is its highest point at 530 metres (1,740 feet) above sea leve

Etymology

Local tradition recounts that Christopher Columbus named the island Tortuga, meaning "Turtle Dove" in Spanish. In fact, Columbus named the island as Santa Ana. Dutch colonists called it Ter Tholen, after a coastal island that is part of the Netherlands. When the British took over, the name evolved to Tortola.

History

 

On his second voyage for the Spanish Crown to the Caribbean or West Indies, Christopher Columbus spotted what are now called the British and US Virgin Islands. He named the archipelago after the 11,000 virgins of the 5th-century Christian martyr St. Ursula. The Spanish made a few attempts to settle the islands, but pirates such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd were the first permanent residents.

In the late 16th century, the English, who had successfully usurped control of the area from the Dutch, established a permanent plantation colony on Tortola and the surrounding islands. Settlers developed the islands for the sugarcane industry, with large plantations dependent on the slave labor of Africans transported across the Atlantic. The majority of early settlers came in the late eighteenth century: Loyalists from the Thirteen Colonies after the American Revolutionary War were given land grants here by the Crown to encourage development. They brought their African-American slaves with them, who outnumbered the British colonists. The sugar industry dominated Tortola economic history for more than a century.

In the early 19th century, after Britain abolished the international slave trade, the Royal Navy patrolled the Caribbean to intercept illegal slave ships. The colony settled liberated Africans from these ships on Tortola, in the then-unsettled Kingstown area. St. Phillip's Church was built in the early 19th century in this community as one of the earliest free black churches in the Americas.

In the late 1970s, the British businessman Ken Bates attempted to lease a large part of the island on a 199-year lease, but this action was blocked. Noel Lloyd, a local activist, led a protest movement forcing the local government to drop the plan. Today, a park on Tortola is named after Noel Lloyd and features a statue in his honour.

Geography

Tortola is a mountainous island 19 km long and 5 km wide, with an area of 55.7 square km. Formed by volcanic activity, its highest peak is Mount Sage at 530 metres (1,740 feet). Tortola lies near an earthquake fault, and minor earthquakes are common.

 

Economy and demographics

The population of Tortola is 23,908. The principal settlement is Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands, with a population of 9400. Approximately 90 percent of the population identify as of African descent.

Provision of financial services is a major part of the economy. The International Business Companies Act, passed in the early 1980s, encouraged such businesses and has generated significant growth in professional jobs and related revenues. BVI residents are amongst the most affluent in the Eastern Caribbean. Numerous residents from other Caribbean islands also work here.

Although the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are under the British flag, it uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency due to its proximity to and frequent trade with the US Virgin Islands. The island is home to many offshore companies that do business worldwide.

Attractions

The Northern coast has the best beaches on the island, including Smuggler's Cove, Long Bay, Cane Garden Bay, Brewer's Bay, Josiah's Bay, and Lambert beach. In addition to beaches, marine activities such as sailing, surfing, scuba diving, kite boarding, and windsurfing are available. Many tourists visit the historic sites and hike in parks. The island is visited regularly by large cruise ships.

Transportation

Tortola can be reached both by sea and by air. The island has taxi services.

Air Sunshine has flights to and from Tortola(EIS),Virgin Gorda( VIJ),St.Thomas (STT),San Juan(SJU),St.Maarten(SXM),Dominica(DOM),Nevis(NEV) on a regular basis and any other destination on demand

Many ferry companies provide travelers with the opportunity to arrive by sea. The ferries run between Charlotte Amalie in the center of St. Thomas, and Red Hook in the East End of St. Thomas and St. John, and either Road Town or the West End of Tortola.

Images

 

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