The British Virgin Islands
Facts at a Glance:
Capital: Road Town (Tortola)
Form of Government: British Dependent Territory
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor David Pearey
Head of Government: Premier, The Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith, OBE
Location: Archipelago of 36 islands (16 of which are inhabited); about 80 km (50 mi.) east of Puerto Rico; 18.5EN, 64EW. Principal islands: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke.
Area: 153 sq. km (59 sq.mi.) total; Tortola 54 sq.km. (21 sq.mi.); Anegada, 39 sq.km. (15 sq.mi.); Virgin Gorda, 21 sq.km.(8 sq.mi.); Jost Van Dyke, 9 sq.km.(3.4 sq.mi.).
Population: 19,000 (1996)
Ethnic Make-Up: 94% of African descent; remainder of European and Asian origin.
Adult Literacy: 98%
Currency: US Dollar
Time zone: EST (summer); EST+1 (winter); GMT -4
Phone code: Regional code (284), plus 49, plus the 5-digit local number
History: In 1666, British planters took over control of the island group from the Dutch settlers. The islands attained the status of a British colony and remained part of the Leeward Islands from 1872 until 1956, when the BVI became a separately administered entity.
To preserve its close economic ties with the US Virgin Is., the group did not join the 1958-1962 West Indies Federation. In 1967, a new Constitution provided for a ministerial system of government headed by a Governor, who represents HM Queen Elizabeth II.
UWI connections: A contributing territory, the BVI has only 22 students registered at the 17 (2004/2005).