British Virgin


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.


Location: Caribbean, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates: 18 30 N, 64 30 W
Population:  31,148 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 19.6% (male 2,526/female 2,457)

15-64 years:  74.1% (male 9,631/female 9,174)

65 years and over: 6.3% (male 827/female 768) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: none

conventional short form: British Virgin Islands

abbreviation: BVI

Dependency status: overseas territory of the UK; internal self-governing
Telephones – main lines in use:  26,800 (2010)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 46,800 (2010)
Airports: 4 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2012)

Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 7,266 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: Males age 16-49:  6,057 (2010 est.)

females age 16-49: 5,805 (2010 est.)


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. An estimated 820,000 tourists, mainly from the US, visited the islands in 2005. 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.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: none
Illicit drugs: transhipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe; large offshore financial centre makes it vulnerable to money laundering