[Country map of British Virgin Islands]

British Virgin Islands

(dependent territory of the UK)


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

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total area: 150 sq km
land area: 150 sq km
comparative area: about 0.8 times the size of Washington, DC
note: includes the island of Anegada

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 80 km

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

International disputes: none

Climate: subtropical; humid; temperatures moderated by trade winds

Terrain: coral islands relatively flat; volcanic islands steep, hilly

Natural resources: negligible

Land use:
arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 7%
meadows and pastures: 33%
forest and woodland: 7%
other: 33%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: limited natural fresh water resources (except for a few seasonal streams and springs on Tortola, most of the island's water supply comes from wells and rainwater catchment)
natural hazards: hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October)
international agreements: NA

Note: strong ties to nearby US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico


Population: 13,027 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA

Population growth rate: 1.27% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 20.25 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 6.07 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 19.33 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.73 years
male: 70.88 years
female: 74.7 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.27 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: British Virgin Islander(s)
adjective: British Virgin Islander

Ethnic divisions: black 90%, white, Asian

Religions: Protestant 86% (Methodist 45%, Anglican 21%, Church of God 7%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5%, Baptist 4%, Jehovah's Witnesses 2%, other 2%), Roman Catholic 6%, none 2%, other 6% (1981)

Languages: English (official)

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1970)
total population: 98%
male: 98%
female: 98%

Labor force: 4,911 (1980)
by occupation: NA


conventional long form: none
conventional short form: British Virgin Islands

Abbreviation: BVI

Digraph: VI

Type: dependent territory of the UK

Capital: Road Town

Administrative divisions: none (dependent territory of the UK)

Independence: none (dependent territory of the UK)

National holiday: Territory Day, 1 July

Constitution: 1 June 1977

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 Peter Alfred PENFOLD (since 14 October 1991)
head of government: Chief Minister H. Lavity STOUTT (since NA September 1986)
cabinet: Executive Council; appointed by the governor

Legislative branch: unicameral
Legislative Council: election last held 20 February 1995 (next to be held on NA February 2000); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (13 total) VIP 6, CCM 2, UP 2, independents 3
note: legislature was expanded to 13 seats as of election on 20 February 1995

Judicial branch: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: United Party (UP), Conrad MADURO; Virgin Islands Party (VIP), H. Lavity STOUTT; Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), E. Walwyln BREWLEY

Member of: CARICOM (associate), CDB, ECLAC (associate), INTERPOL (subbureau), IOC, OECS (associate), UNESCO (associate)

Diplomatic representation in US: none (dependent territory of the UK)

US diplomatic representation: none (dependent territory of the UK)

Flag: 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)


Overview: 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 1985 the government offered offshore registration to companies wishing to incorporate in the islands, and, in consequence, incorporation fees generated about $2 million in 1987. The economy slowed in 1991 because of the poor performances of the tourist sector and tight commercial bank credit. Livestock raising is the most significant agricultural activity. The islands' crops, limited by poor soils, are unable to meet food requirements.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $133 million (1991)

National product real growth rate: 2% (1991)

National product per capita: $10,600 (1991)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.5% (1990 est.)

Unemployment rate: NEGL% (1992)

revenues: $51 million
expenditures: $88 million, including capital expenditures of $38 million (1991)

Exports: $2.7 million (f.o.b., 1988)
commodities: rum, fresh fish, gravel, sand, fruits, animals
partners: Virgin Islands (US), Puerto Rico, US

Imports: $11.5 million (c.i.f., 1988)
commodities: building materials, automobiles, foodstuffs, machinery
partners: Virgin Islands (US), Puerto Rico, US

External debt: $4.5 million (1985)

Industrial production: growth rate 4% (1985)

capacity: 10,500 kW
production: 50 million kWh
consumption per capita: 3,148 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: livestock (including poultry), fish, fruit, vegetables

Economic aid: $NA

Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


Railroads: 0 km

total: 106 km (1983)
paved: NA
unpaved: NA

Ports: Road Town

Merchant marine: none

total: 3
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1


Telephone system: 3,000 telephones; worldwide external telephone service
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: submarine cable communication links to Bermuda

broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the UK