British Virgin Islands

Country Summary

2022 population pyramid

Introduction

Background

First inhabited by Arawak and later by Carib Indians, the Virgin Islands were settled by the Dutch in 1648 and then annexed by the English in 1672. The islands were part of the British colony of the Leeward Islands from 1872-1960; they were granted autonomy in 1967. They maintain strong ties to the nearby US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

Geography

Area

total: 151 sq km

land: 151 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Climate

subtropical; humid; temperatures moderated by trade winds

Natural resources

NEGL; pleasant climate, beaches foster tourism

People and Society

Population

38,632 (2022 est.)

Ethnic groups

African/Black 76.3%, Latino 5.5%, White 5.4%, mixed 5.3%, Indian 2.1%, East Indian 1.6%, other 3%, unspecified 0.8% (2010 est.)

Languages

English (official)

Religions

Protestant 70.2% (Methodist 17.6%, Church of God 10.4%, Anglican 9.5%, Seventh Day Adventist 9.0%, Pentecostal 8.2%, Baptist 7.4%, New Testament Church of God 6.9%, other Protestant 1.2%), Roman Catholic 8.9%, Jehovah's Witness 2.5%, Hindu 1.9%, other 6.2%, none 7.9%, unspecified 2.4% (2010 est.)

Population growth rate

1.91% (2022 est.)

Government

Government type

Overseas Territory of the UK with limited self-government; parliamentary democracy

Capital

name: Road Town

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor John J. RANKIN (since 29 January 2021)

head of government: Premier Dr. Natalio WHEATLEY (since 5 May 2022)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Assembly (15 seats; 13 members - 9 in single-seat constituencies and 4 at-large seats directly elected by simple majority vote and 2 ex-officio members - the attorney general and the speaker - chosen from outside the House; members serve 4-year terms)

Economy

Economic overview

British Caribbean island territorial economy; strong tourism and services industries; vulnerable to hurricanes; navigating public debt insolvency since 2008 Crisis; considered a tax haven; high electrification costs; major rum exporter

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$500 million (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$34,200 (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

fruits, vegetables; livestock, poultry; fish

Industries

tourism, light industry, construction, rum, concrete block, offshore banking center

Exports

$23 million (2017 est.)

Exports - partners

Malta 30%, Seychelles 29%, Switzerland 14% (2019)

Exports - commodities

recreational boats, aircraft, diamonds, paintings, precious stones (2019)

Imports

$300 million (2017 est.)

Imports - partners

Germany 32%, United States 22%, Italy 9%, France 7%, Seychelles 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

recreational boats, aircraft, refined petroleum, cars, furniture (2019)


Page last updated: Thursday, May 12, 2022