British Virgin Islands

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British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands flag
British Virgin Islands Coat of Arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : Vigilate!
( Latin "Be vigilant!")
Official language English
Capital Road Town
Form of government British overseas territory
Head of state Queen Elizabeth II

represented by
Governor Augustus Jaspert
Head of government Prime Minister Andrew Fahie
surface 150 km²
population 28,054 (2010)
Population density 187 inhabitants per km²
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • $ 1,286.3 million
currency US dollar (USD)
National anthem God Save the Queen
Time zone UTC − 4
License Plate VG
ISO 3166 VG , VGB, 092
Internet TLD .vg
Telephone code +1 (284) see NANP
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The British Virgin Islands ( English British Virgin Islands , officially only Virgin Islands ) are a British overseas territory in the Caribbean . They comprise over 60 islands and reefs in the northeastern part of the island group of the Virgin Islands at the northern end of the arch of the Lesser Antilles . The population, which is growing rapidly, especially due to immigration, ( net migration rate 2012: 18.56 per 1000 inhabitants, third highest value worldwide) inhabits 16 of the islands located about 100 km east of Puerto Rico .

The economy is closely linked to the more heavily populated American Virgin Islands , so the official currency is the US dollar. The service sector is dominant, in particular the tourism and offshore financial sectors .


In the 1st century BC Arawak settled the islands, but were subjugated by the Caribs in the 15th century . In 1493, Christopher Columbus discovered the Virgin Islands for the Europeans. In 1555, Spanish troops defeated the indigenous population and exterminated them in the decades to come.

Until the beginning of the 17th century, the islands were visited several times by Spanish and English ships on their expeditions to South and Central America , but initially they were not colonized . It was not until 1615 that a permanent settlement of the Dutch privateer Joost van Dyk appeared in Spanish records on Tortola. Soon after, the Dutch West India Company recognized the strategic importance of the Virgin Islands. Several entrenchments and small forts were built by Dutch settlers in the period that followed; there were numerous armed conflicts with Spanish troops.

After the outbreak of the Third Anglo-Dutch War , the area was annexed by England in 1672 and incorporated into the colony of the British Leeward Islands . The British established plantations for the cultivation of sugar cane , for which it is a growing number of African deported slaves needed. In the middle of the 18th century there were already over 6,000 slaves here. Today around 75% of the population is of black African descent. At the beginning of the 19th century there were several slave revolts; In 1834 slavery was officially abolished.

The Leeward Islands Federation , founded in 1871, was dissolved in 1956. The British Virgin Islands formed their own crown colony from 1960 and gained greater internal autonomy with the 1967 constitution. The territory has been on the UN list of sovereign territories without self-government since 1946 .


The British Virgin Islands have 28,054 inhabitants (as of 2010). The majority of the population is wholly or partly of African descent. 17.6% are Methodists , 10.4% members of God's Church , 9.5% Anglicans , 9% Seventh-day Adventists , 8.9% Catholics , 8.2% Pentecostals , 7.4% Baptists , 6.9 % belong to the New Testament Church of God , 2.5% are Jehovah's Witnesses , 1.9% Hindus , 17.7% profess another religion or no religion (all figures from 2010).


Political Affiliation:
  • Spanish Virgin Islands (to Puerto Rico )
  • American Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico (to USA )
  • British Virgin Islands map

    The area has a size of 150 km² and consists of 16 inhabited and over 20 uninhabited islands. The four main islands are Anegada , Jost Van Dyke , Tortola and Virgin Gorda . Complete list:

    Anegada Beef Island Bellamy Cay Carvel rock
    Cockroach Island Cooper Island Dead Chest Eustatia Island
    Fall Jerusalem Island Frenchman's Cay George Dog Island Ginger Island
    Great Camanoe Great Dog Island Great thatch Great Tobago Island
    Green Cay Guana Island Jost Van Dyke Little Camanoe
    Little Jerusalem Island Little Jost Van Dyke Little Seal Dog Island Little Thatch
    Little Tobago Marina Cay Mosquito Island Necker Island
    Norman Island Oyster Rocks Pelican Island Peter Island
    Prickly Pear Island Saba skirt Salt Island Sandy Cay
    Sandy Spit Scrub Island Seal Dog Island Tortola
    Virgin Gorda West Dog Island

    Anegada Island is made up of coral reefs and limestone and is relatively flat; the other islands are of volcanic origin and are mountainous or hilly. The highest point of the islands is Mount Sage at 523 m on Tortola.

    The climate is tropical and humid, the temperatures are moderate due to winds. Hurricanes and tropical storms occur from July to October. The natural fresh water resources are limited. Aside from a few springs and periodic watercourses on Tortola, which dry out in summer, the islands' water supply is based on wells and rainwater cisterns.


    The British Virgin Islands are an Associate Member of the Caribbean Community and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean Nations . You are one of the sponsors of the University of the West Indies .

    The ultimate executive authority of the British Virgin Islands is held by Queen Elizabeth II . In this capacity, she is represented by the governor , who is appointed by her on a proposal from the British government. The United Kingdom is responsible for foreign and defense policy.

    The constitution of the archipelago was last enacted in 2007. The head of government is the prime minister , until 2007 the chief minister , who is appointed by the governor along with the four other members of the government from the members of the legislative council. The Legislative Council (House of Assembly) consists of 13 members elected by the people, the speaker and the Attorney General who is not entitled to vote .

    Augustus Jaspert has held the office of governor since 2019 . Andrew Fahie of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) has been the acting Prime Minister since 2019 . He replaced Orlando Smith from the National Democratic Party (NDP).


    White Bay of Jost Van Dyke Island

    The economy, one of the most stable and thriving in the Caribbean, is largely dependent on tourism . The direct contribution of tourism to the gross domestic product was around 34% in 2016; the total contribution to the economic strength of the country, which also takes into account the indirect effects on other economic sectors, exceeds 95%. Approximately 825,000 tourists, including more than 440,000 cruise passengers mainly from the United States , visited the islands in 2006. The main source of income for the local tourism industry is chartered out yachts.

    Agriculture , the main activity of which is livestock, is of comparatively minor importance . The poor quality of the soil allows only a limited supply of the local population.

    The gross domestic product in 2016 was nominally around 1286 million US dollars.

    The economy is closely tied to that of the US Virgin Islands . The US dollar has been the official currency since 1959 .

    Tax haven

    Since the mid-1980s, the government has offered companies the option of being based in the islands with a mailbox company. The fees for setting up such companies now account for more than 50% of government revenue. Around 450,000 letterbox companies were registered on the islands in 2012. By 2015 there were already 800,000 companies.

    In a ranking of the most important financial centers worldwide, the British Virgin Islands took 60th place (as of March 2018).


    The road network comprises 200 km of paved roads (as of 2007), there is left-hand traffic . There is a port in Road Town.

    There are five airports in the British Virgin Islands : Auguste George Airport on the island of Anegada ( IATA airport code: NGD), Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on the island of Beef Island (EIS), Virgin Gorda Airport on the island of Virgin Gorda ( VIJ) as well as the two sea airfields North Sound Water Aerodrome north of Virgin Gorda Island (NSX) and West End Seaplane Base north of Tortola Island (TOV).


    public holidays

    date Surname German name Remarks
    January 1st New Years Day New Year
    7th March H. Lavity Stoutt's Birthday Birthday of Hamilton Hamilton Lavity Stoutt Minister from 1957 to 1995
    March Commonwealth Day Commonwealth Day Second Monday in March
    March April Good Friday and Easter Monday Good Friday and Easter Monday Easter
    May June Whit Monday Whit Monday
    June Sovereign's Day Celebration of Elizabeth II's birthday .
    July 1 Territory Day Festival of the Territory
    August Festival Holidays Festival (three days) the first Monday - Wednesday of August
    for Liberation from Slavery 1834
    October 21 St. Ursula's Day Feast of St. Ursula
    December 25th and 26th Christmas Day and Boxing Day Christmas


    • Isaac Dookhan: A History of the British Virgin Islands, 1672 to 1970 . Caribbean Universities Press in association with Bowker Pub. Co., Epping, Essex 1975, ISBN 0-85935-026-6 (English).
    • Norwell Harrigan, Pearl I. Varlack: The British Virgin Islands (a Chronology) . Research and Consulting Services, Tortola 1970 (English).

    Web links

    Commons : British Virgin Islands  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ A b Virgin Islands 2010 Population and Housing Census Report. (PDF; 2.52 MB) Executive Summary. Government of the Virgin Islands - Central Statistics Office, December 1, 2016, p. 1 , accessed January 9, 2018 .
    2. ^ A b Gross Value Added by Economic Activity in Current Prices. (PDF; 207 kB) In: Government of the Virgin Islands - Central Statistics Office, October 2019, accessed April 17, 2020 .
    3. ^ A b Virgin Islands 2010 Population and Housing Census Report. (PDF; 2.52 MB) Table 74: To which ethnic group do you belong? Government of the Virgin Islands - Central Statistics Office, December 1, 2016, p. 57 , accessed January 9, 2018 .
    4. Our History. Government of the Virgin Islands, accessed January 9, 2018 .
    5. ^ Virgin Islands 2010 Population and Housing Census Report. (PDF; 2.52 MB) Table 76: What is your affiliation with a religion or faith. Government of the Virgin Islands - Central Statistics Office, December 1, 2016, p. 59 , accessed January 9, 2018 .
    6. ^ Areas of the British Virgin Islands ( Memento of April 4, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on January 9, 2018.
    7. ^ Sage Mountain National Park on Tortola BVI. Brief description with route sketch. In: Directory of the British Virgin Islands at ReservationsBVI.Com. Retrieved January 9, 2018 .
    8. ^ Geography. Government of the Virgin Islands, accessed January 9, 2018 .
    9. ^ The Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 . Statutory Instruments 2007 No. 1678. Buckingham Palace June 13, 2007 ( online on the website of the London Office of the British Virgin Islands Government [PDF; 415 kB ; accessed on January 9, 2018]). online ( Memento from April 21, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
    10. ^ Governor's Office Tortola. Our people. In: GOV.UK. Government of the United Kingdom, accessed January 9, 2018 .
    11. David Scowsill (Ed.): Travel & Tourism: Economic Impact 2017 - British Virgin Islands . World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), London March 2017, 2017 Annual Research: Key Facts, p. 1 , GDP: Direct Contribution and GDP: Total Contribution (English, online [PDF; 1.7 MB ; accessed on January 11, 2018]).
    12. a b Our Economy. Government of the Virgin Islands, accessed January 11, 2018 .
    13. Luxury in tax havens: caressing Ducati under palm trees. - Articles and photo series about tax havens, Spiegel Online.
    14. ^ The Global Financial Centers Index 23. In: Z / Yen Group, March 2018, accessed January 13, 2019 .
    15. ^ CIA World Factbook: Roadways: British Virgin Islands. Accessed January 11, 2018.

    Coordinates: 18 ° 30 ′  N , 64 ° 30 ′  W