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British Virgin Islands

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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.



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

Geographic coordinates:
18 30 N, 64 30 W

Map references:
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:
0 km

Coastline:
80 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

Climate:
Current Weather
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)

Irrigated land:
NA

Natural hazards:
hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October)

Environment - current 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)

Geography - note:
strong ties to nearby US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico



Population:
24,939 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 215

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.7% (male 2,489/female 2,422)
15-64 years: 74.3% (male 9,494/female 9,031)
65 years and over: 6% (male 777/female 726) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 32.6 years
male: 32.7 years
female: 32.5 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:
1.784% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69

Birth rate:
14.52 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142

Death rate:
4.41 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200

Net migration rate:
7.74 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10

Urbanization:
urban population: 40% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 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.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 14.11 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 128
male: 16.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.12 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.45 years
country comparison to the world: 59
male: 76.18 years
female: 78.78 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.71 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
NA

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)

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)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.8% (1991 est.)
male: NA
female: NA

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 17 years
male: 15 years
female: 19 years (2005)

Education expenditures:
3.7% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 122



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 law

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

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
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
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 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 20 August 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - VIP 45.2%, NDP 39.6%, independent 15.2%; seats by party - VIP 10, NDP 2, independent 1

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, WFTU

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



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.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$853.4 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204

GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.095 billion (2008)

GDP - real growth rate:
-0.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$38,500 (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 0.9%
industry: 10.7%
services: 88.3% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
12,770 (2004)
country comparison to the world: 212

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 0.6%
industry: 40%
services: 59.4% (2005)

Unemployment rate:
3.6% (1997)
country comparison to the world: 30

Population below poverty line:
NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

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

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.1% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 169
2% (2005)

Agriculture - products:
fruits, vegetables; livestock, poultry; fish

Industries:
tourism, light industry, construction, rum, concrete block, offshore financial center

Industrial production growth rate:
NA%

Electricity - production:
45 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198

Electricity - consumption:
41.85 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203

Oil - consumption:
1,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204

Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143

Oil - imports:
691 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107

Current account balance:
$134.3 million (1999)
country comparison to the world: 54

Exports:
$25.3 million (2002)
country comparison to the world: 203

Exports - commodities:
rum, fresh fish, fruits, animals; gravel, sand

Imports:
$187 million f.o.b.

Imports - commodities:
building materials, automobiles, foodstuffs, machinery

Debt - external:
$36.1 million (1997)
country comparison to the world: 188

Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used



Telephones - main lines in use:
18,900 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 196

Telephones - mobile cellular:
23,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 205

Telephone system:
general assessment: worldwide telephone service
domestic: fixed line connections exceed 75 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)

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 0 (2004)

Television broadcast stations:
1 (plus 1 cable company) (1997)

Internet country code:
.vg

Internet hosts:
581 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 169

Internet users:
4,000 (2002)
country comparison to the world: 206



Airports:
4 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 184

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2009)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2009)

Roadways:
total: 200 km
country comparison to the world: 207
paved: 200 km (2007)

Merchant marine:
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 148

Ports and terminals:
Road Town



Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 7,230 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 6,028
females age 16-49: 5,778 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 174
female: 167 (2010 est.)

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the UK



Disputes - international:
none

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


 

Information from the CIA's "The World Fact Book" 2010

 

 

 

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