BVI Facts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACKBROUND:

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.

GEOGRAPHY:

Location:

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

Geographic Coordinates:

18 30 N, 64 30 W

Map Reference:

Central America and the Caribbean

Area:

total: 151 sq km

country comparison to the world:219

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
Area – Comparative:
about 0.9 times the size of Washington, DC
Land Boundaries:
0km
Coastal:
80km
Maritime Claims:
territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 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: 6.67%
other: 73.33% (2005)
Natural Hazzards:
hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October)
Environment Current Issues:
limited natural freshwater 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 & SOCIETY:
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)
Languages:
English (official)
Religions:
Protestant 84% (Methodist 33%, Anglican 17%, Church of God 9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 6%, Baptist 4%, other 15%), Roman Catholic 10%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 2%, other 2%, none 2% (1991)
Population:
31,148 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214
Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.6% (male 2,526/female 2,457)
15-64 years: 74.1% (male 9,631/female 9,174)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 827/female 768) (2011 est.)
Median age:
total: 32.9 years
male: 32.9 years
female: 32.8 years (2011 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.443% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
Birth rate:
10.69 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
Death rate:
4.82 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 190
Net migration rate:
18.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
Urbanization:
urban population: 41% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities – population:
ROAD TOWN (capital) 9,000 (2009)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2012 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 14.43 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 121
male: 16.41 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.95 years
country comparison to the world: 57
male: 76.73 years
female: 79.24 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.22 children born/woman (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 218
Drinking water source:
improved:
urban: 98% of population
rural: 98% of population
total: 98% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2% of population
rural: 2% of population
total: 2% of population (2008)
Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population (2008)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths:
NA
Education expenditures:
3.2% of GDP (2007)
country comparison to the world: 126
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.8%
male: NA
female: NA (1991 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2009)

GOVERNMENT:

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:
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)

Independence:
none (overseas territory of the UK)
National holiday:
Territory Day, 1 July (1956)

Constitution:
13 June 2007

Legal system:
English common law

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Boyd MCCLEARY (since 20 August 2010)
head of government: Premier Orlando SMITH (since 9 November 2011)
cabinet: Executive Council appointed by the governor from members of the House of Assembly
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually appointed premier by the governor

Legislative branch:
unicameral House of Assembly (13 elected seats, a speaker elected by the 13 members of the House of Assembly, and 1 non-voting ex officio member in the attorney general; members are elected by direct popular vote, 1 member from each of nine electoral districts, 4 at-large members; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 November 2011 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party – NDP 49.4%, VIP 42%, other 8.6%; seats by party – NDP 9, VIP 4

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:
The Family Support Network; The Women’s Desk
other: environmentalists
International organization participation:

Caricom (associate), CDB, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, OECS, UNESCO (associate), UPU
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); the islands were named by COLUMBUS in 1493 in honor of Saint Ursula and her 11 virgin followers (some sources say 11,000) who reputedly were martyred by the Huns in the 4th or 5th century; the figure on the banner holding a lamp represents the saint, the other lamps symbolize her followers