Welcome to the British Virgin Islands
A year round delight to sailors and landlubbers alike, the 36 islands of the BVI have succeeded in safeguarding their special charm from mass tourism. However, the secret is out as an increasing number of escapists discover these ancient islands filled with many natural advantages, from sanctuaries for exotic fauna and flora to fabulous fishing and dive sites.
Among the most frequently visited of the BVI's handful of inhabited islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Beef Island, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Peter, Little Thatch, and Guana Islands. All of these are perfect sites for unwinding, wriggling your toes in the sand, and absorbing the tranquil pleasures of sunshine and crystal clear sapphire seas. The BVI sways to the rhythm of the sea and is not hurried.
The greatest resource and greatest experience in the B.V.I. is the islanders themselves. The people of the BVI are known for their warmth and their hospitality. Their "island-time" attitude is quick to settle on those who let the islands engulf their spirit. People soon find themselves slipping into a slower pace and easing out of their normal harried lifestyles. All too soon the popular sayings "You're on island time now" and "no worries mon!" become part of their vocabulary.
Tortola, "land of turtle doves' is the largest of the British Virgin Islands overlooking Sir Francis Drake Channel. Road Town is the capital of Tortola and where most of the 20,000 residents of the BVI live.
Tortola also offers and ideal jumping off point to the other main island of Virgin Gorda with its famous Baths, magical Anegada, and rustic Jost Van Dyke. Visitors can use the efficient ferry service to any of these nearby destinations.
Beef Island is the gateway to the B.V.I. and harbors the main airport. It is connected to Tortola by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Mangroves line the shores beneath the bridge, and an excellent beach, Long Bay is on the island's northern shore.
In 1866 British planters took over control of the island group from the original Dutch settlers. The islands attained the status of British colony, and remained part of the Leeward Islands from 1872 until 1956, when the British Virgin Islands became a separately administered entity. To preserve its close economic ties with the U.S. Virgin Islands, the group did not join the 1958-1962 West Indies Federation of British Virgin Islands. In 1967, a new constitution provided for a ministerial system of government headed by a Chief Minister. The island group remains under British control today.
Capital: Road Town
Nationality: British Virgin Islander
Official Language: English
Official Currency: U.S. Dollar
National Motto: "No Worries Mon!"
The British Virgin Islands are comprised of 36 islands in the Caribbean (16 of which are inhabited); about 80 km or 60 miles) east of Puerto Rico and adjacent to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Size & Area
BVI: 153 sq km(59 sq miles)
Tortola: 54 square km (21 sq miles)
Anegada: 39 square km (15 sq miles)
Virgin Gorda: 21 square km (8 sq miles)
Summer = 26°C - 31°C (79°F - 89°F)
Winter = 22°C - 28°C (72°F - 82°F)
Rainfall monthly average of 100 mm
Total population (2001) estimate 20,100.
Largely mountainous with rolling hills and beaches. Tortola rises to 1,780 feet at Mount Sage, the highest point in all the Virgin Islands whereas Anegada is very flat, the entire islands being no more than a few feet above sea level.
The Governor is the representative of Her Majesty the Queen and responsible for defense and internal security, external affairs, terms and conditions of service of public officers, and the administration of the courts; he possesses reserved legislative powers in these areas. There is an Executive Council, with the Governor as chairman, which includes the Attorney General, (ex-officio) the Chief Minister (appointed by the Governor from those elected to the Legislative Council) and three other ministers appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister.
The Legislative Council consists of the four ministers and five other popularly elected representatives, and is presided over by a speaker elected from outside the Council.
The judicial system is under the direction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, which includes the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal. Other bodies are the Magistrates' Court, a Juvenile Court, and a Court of Summary Jurisdiction.