Info & Resources

British Virgin Islands

Written by Staff Writer

Country Overview:
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.

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

Geographic coordinates:
18 30 N, 64 30 W

Area:
Total: 153 sq km, land: 153 sq km, water: 0 sq km

Area – Comparative:
About 0.9 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:
0 km

Coastline:
80 km

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:
Highest point: Mount Sage 521 m

Natural Resources:
NEGL

Population:
24,041 (July 2008 est.)

Nationality:
Noun: British Virgin Islander(s)

Nationality:
Adjective: British Virgin Islander

Ethnic groups:
Black 83.4%, white 7%, mixed 5.4%, Indian 3.4%, other 0.8% (1991 census)

Religions:
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)

Languages:
English (official)

Country Name:
British Virgin Islands

Government Type:
NA (overseas territory of the UK)

Capital Name:
Road Town

Independence:
None (overseas territory of the UK)

National Holiday:
Territory Day, 1 July (1956)

Constitution:
13 June 2007

Legal System:
English law

Executive Branch:
Chief of State: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor David PEAREY (since 18 April 2006)

Head of Government:
Premier Ralph T. O’NEAL (since 23 August 2007)

Cabinet:
Executive Council appointed by the governor from members of the House of Assembly

Elections:
The monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed premier by the governor

About the author

Staff Writer