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British Virgin Islands country facts

Central America and the Caribbean Road Town 32,680 inhabitants 151 sq km 216.42 inhabitants/sq km the US dollar is used overseas territory of the United Kingdom population evolution



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. The economy is closely tied to the larger and more populous US Virgin Islands to the west; the US dollar is the legal currency.



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

Geographic coordinates

18 30 N, 64 30 W

Area (sq km)

total: 151 sq km
land: 151 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: comprised of 16 inhabited and more than 20 uninhabited islands; includes the islands of Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke

Area - comparative (sq km)

about 0.9 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries (km)

0 km

Coastline (km)

80 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


subtropical; humid; temperatures moderated by trade winds


coral islands relatively flat; volcanic islands steep, hilly

Elevation extremes (m)

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Sage 521 m

Natural resources


Land use (%)

arable land: 6.67%
permanent crops: 6.67%
other: 86.67% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)


Natural hazards

hurricanes and tropical storms (July to October)

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources except for a few seasonal streams and springs on Tortola; most of the islands' water supply comes from wells and rainwater catchments

Geography - note

strong ties to nearby US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

People and Society


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

Ethnic groups (%)

black 82%, white 6.8%, other 11.2% (includes Indian and mixed) (2008)

Languages (%)

English (official)

Religions (%)

Protestant 84% (Methodist 33%, Anglican 17%, Church of God 9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 6%, Baptist 4%, other 15%), Roman Catholic 10%, Jehovah's Witnesses 2%, other 2%, none 2% (1991)


32,680 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 17.2% (male 2,770/female 2,861)
15-24 years: 14.5% (male 2,252/female 2,472)
25-54 years: 49.8% (male 7,697/female 8,574)
55-64 years: 10.6% (male 1,709/female 1,763)
65 years and over: 7.6% (male 1,258/female 1,324) (2014 est.)

Age structure in British Virgin Islands

Median age (years)

total: 35.6 years
male: 35.5 years
female: 35.7 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

2.36% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

10.83 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

4.93 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

17.69 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 40.6% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.48% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

ROAD TOWN (capital) 10,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 13.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 15.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 78.29 years
male: 76.99 years
female: 79.66 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

1.25 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 98% of population
rural: 98% of population
total: 98% of population
unimproved: urban: 2% of population
rural: 2% of population
total: 2% of population (2010 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 97.5% of population
rural: 97.5% of population
total: 97.5% of population
unimproved: urban: 2.5% of population
rural: 2.5% of population
total: 2.5% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Education expenditures (% of GDP)

4.4% of GDP (2010)

Literacy (%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.8%
male: NA
female: NA (1991 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) (years)

total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2009)


Country name

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

Dependency status

overseas territory of the UK; internal self-governing

Government type



name: Road Town
geographic coordinates: 18 25 N, 64 37 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

none (overseas territory of the UK)


none (overseas territory of the UK)

National holiday

Territory Day, 1 July (1956)


several previous; latest effective 15 June 2007 (2007)

Legal system

English common law


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Boyd MCCLEARY (since 20 August 2010)
head of government: Premier Orlando SMITH (since 9 November 2011)
cabinet: Executive Council appointed by the governor from members of the House of Assembly
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually appointed premier by the governor

Legislative branch

unicameral House of Assembly (13 elected seats, a speaker elected by the 13 members of the House of Assembly, and 1 non-voting ex officio member in the attorney general; members are elected by direct popular vote, 1 member from each of nine electoral districts, 4 at-large members; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 November 2011 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party - NDP 49.4%, VIP 42%, other 8.6%; seats by party - NDP 9, VIP 4

Judicial branch

highest court(s): the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is the itinerant superior court of record for the 9-member Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to include the British Virgin Islands; the ECSC - with its headquarters on St. Lucia - is headed by the chief justice and is comprised of the Court of Appeal with 3 justices and the High Court with 16 judges; sittings of the Court of Appeal and High Court rotate among the 9 member states; 3 High Court judges reside in member states; 3 High Court judges reside on the British Virgin Islands
judge selection and term of office: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court chief justice appointed by Her Majesty, Queen ELIZABETH II; other justices and judges appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission; Court of Appeal justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 65; High Court judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 62
subordinate courts: Magistrates' Courts

Political parties and leaders

Concerned Citizens Movement or CCM [Ethlyn SMITH]; National Democratic Party or NDP [Orlando SMITH]; United Party or UP [Gregory MADURO]; Virgin Islands Party or VIP [Ralph T. O'NEAL]

Political pressure groups and leaders

The Family Support Network; The Women's Desk
other: environmentalists

International organization participation

Caricom (associate), CDB, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, OECS, UNESCO (associate), UPU

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Flag description

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); the islands were named by COLUMBUS in 1493 in honor of Saint Ursula and her 11 virgin followers (some sources say 11,000) who reputedly were martyred by the Huns in the 4th or 5th century; the figure on the banner holding a lamp represents the saint, the other lamps symbolize her followers

National anthem

note: as a territory of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)


Economy - overview

The economy, one of the most stable and prosperous in the Caribbean, is highly dependent on tourism generating an estimated 45% of the national income. More than 934,000 tourists, mainly from the US, visited the islands in 2008. In the mid-1980s, the government began offering offshore registration to companies wishing to incorporate in the islands, and incorporation fees now generate substantial revenues. Roughly 400,000 companies were on the offshore registry by yearend 2000. The adoption of a comprehensive insurance law in late 1994, which provides a blanket of confidentiality with regulated statutory gateways for investigation of criminal offenses, made the British Virgin Islands even more attractive to international business. Livestock raising is the most important agricultural activity; poor soils limit the islands' ability to meet domestic food requirements. Because of traditionally close links with the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands has used the US dollar as its currency since 1959.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$500 million (2010 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.095 billion (2008)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

1.3% (2010 est.)
-0.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$42,300 (2010 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 11.7%
services: 87.2% (2013 est.)

Labor force

12,770 (2004)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

agriculture: 0.6%
industry: 40%
services: 59.4% (2005)

Unemployment rate (%)

8.7% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line (%)


Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $300 million
expenditures: $300 million (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

27.4% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

0% of GDP (2013 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

1.6% (2013 est.)
2.2% (2012 est.)

Agriculture - products

fruits, vegetables; livestock, poultry; fish


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

Industrial production growth rate (%)

3% (2013 est.)

Current account balance

$362.6 million (2010 est.)
$279.8 million (2010 est.)


$26 million (2012 est.)
$25 million (2011 est.)

Exports - commodities (%)

rum, fresh fish, fruits, animals; gravel, sand


$310 million (2012 est.)
$320 million (2011 est.)

Imports - commodities (%)

building materials, automobiles, foodstuffs, machinery

External debt ($)

$36.1 million (1997)

Exchange rates

Currency converter
the US dollar is used

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March


Electricity - production (kWh)

50 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

46.5 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

44,000 kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

100% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

0 bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

1,000 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

773 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

0 cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

147,200 Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

12,268 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

48,700 (2012)

Telephone system

general assessment: good overall telephone service
domestic: fixed line connections exceed 80 per 100 persons and mobile cellular subscribership is roughly 150 per 100 persons
international: country code - 1-284; connected via submarine cable to Bermuda; the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) submarine cable provides connectivity to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean (2011)

Broadcast media

1 private TV station; multi-channel TV is available from cable and satellite subscription services; about a half dozen private radio stations (2007)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

505 (2012)

Internet users

4,000 (2002)



4 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)

Roadways (km)

total: 200 km
paved: 200 km (2007)

Ports and terminals

seaport(s): Road Harbor


Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 7,266 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 6,057
females age 16-49: 5,805 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 168
female: 162 (2010 est.)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Illicit drugs

transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe; large offshore financial center makes it vulnerable to money laundering

Largest cities of British Virgin Islands

These are the 50 largest cities of British Virgin Islands ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Road Town 8,449