British Virgin Islands (BVI) are situated to the east of Puerto Rico and are composed of four main islands. The islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda are largest and get the greatest number of visitors. Among the outlying islands Jost Van Dyke and Anegada get the largest number of visitors. There are close to 60 smaller inlands and cays altogether with many of them lying uninhibited. BVI has one of the most prosperous economies in the area and is ranked has having 11th highest GDP in the world. Tourism and financial services form the foundations of its economy. The territory has managed to maintain a balance between a strong economy coupled with a quintessential Caribbean lifestyle.
The islands can be separated into two categories. Most of them are steep volcanic islands like the main islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda while the remaining are fairly flat and coral islands. The island of Anegada is known as “the drowned island” because its elevation is so low that a lot of people don’t see it until almost upon it. The white sandy beaches and clear waters of the territory provide outstanding snorkeling, diving, sailing and surfing facilities. Islanders take immense pride in its history and heritage and celebrate through festivals, folklore, art and music.
Arawak people from South America were the first settlers of the BVI near 100 BC and continued to inhibit them until the fifteenth century. The Caribs, a tribe originating from Lesser Antilles islands displaced the original inhabitants in the fifteenth century. The Caribbean Sea is named after this tribe. Christopher Columnbus set foot on the islands during his second voyage to America in 1493. By 1596 most of the Caribs had either been killed or they fled. In 1672 the islands were annexed and used as slave-based sugar plantations but the plantations declined after slavery was abolished in the first half of 19th century. The islands got independent administration in 1956 as a British Crown Colony.
Status: Overseas territory
Capital: Road Town
Government: Constitutional monarchy, Parliamentary system
Currency: United States Dollar
Area: 59 sq mi (153 sq km)
Climate: Tropical climate with easterly winds and low humidity
Dialing code: +1