The British Virgin Islands, part of a volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean, is a British overseas territory. Comprising 4 main islands and many smaller ones, it’s known for its reef-lined beaches and as a yachting destination. The largest island, Tortola, is home to the capital, Road Town, and rainforest-filled Sage Mountain National Park. On Virgin Gorda island is the Baths, a labyrinth of beachside boulders.
The population is approximately 31,912, the largest and most heavily populated Island is Tortola which has approximately 18,000 inhabitants. 90% of the inhabitants are of African descent.
In 1672, Britain claimed Tortola. Simultaneously, Denmark asserted her sovereignty over St. Thomas and St. John; then in 1773 Denmark purchased St. Croix from France. The Danish Islands were sold to the United States in 1917 for US$ 25 million. Relations between the United States and British Virgin Islands are good. The British Virgin Islands are a UK overseas territory with self-government in most internal matters. Under the 1977 constitution, HM Queen Elizabeth II is represented by a governor responsible for external affairs, defense, internal security and the public service, with reserved legislative powers as necessary for the exercise of special responsibilities. On all other matters, the executive council has authority.
Infrastructure and Economy
There is an excellent daily air service between the Islands and the USA. Cruise ships call in weekly to the Islands and there are freight carriers. The economy, one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean area, is highly dependent on the tourist industry, which generates about 21% of the national income. In 1984, the Government offered offshore registration to companies wishing to incorporate in the Islands, by 2006 the number incorporated had exceed 750,000, incorporation in the first three quarters of 2006 exceeded 51,000 making the British Virgin Islands the leading offshore jurisdiction. The Finance Sector and Ship Registration now generate approximately 50% of government revenue.
The official and spoken language is English.
There are no foreign exchange controls in BVI
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