chapter  10
11 Pages

British Virgin Islands

WithEdward Watt

10.1 The British Virgin Islands (‘the BVI’) consists of a group of islands and islets in the easternmost part of the Virgin Islands archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, situated to the east of St John and St Thomas and to the north of St Croix, all part of the US Virgin Islands. The largest island in the BVI is Tortola where the capital, Road Town, is situated. The population is approximately 35,000. Originally a Dutch colony, the BVI was annexed by the British in 1672 and was part of the Leeward Islands colony between 1872 and 1960. A period of direct rule followed, after which self-government was first introduced in 1977. The BVI is now a British Overseas Territory. Under the 2007 Constitution, which replaced an earlier one dating from 1976, the Governor, who is appointed by the Crown, has reserved powers on matters such as defence, security and external affairs. 1 There is a House of Assembly consisting of a Speaker, one ex-officio member (the Attorney-General), and 13 members who are each elected for a four-year term. There is an Executive Council comprised of the Premier, four other Assembly members and the Attorney-General, who has no vote. The country’s main industries are tourism and offshore financial services. Rum is a major export. The legal tender is the US dollar.