Business in the British Virgin

The British Virgin Islands is one of the British overseas territories lying in the eastern Caribbean. The British Virgin Islands (commonly abbreviated as BVI) is geographically a part of the collective Virgin Islands. It is a serene region with a rich history and heritage. BVI is also an ideal tourism destination. It is endowed with low mountains, lagoons with coral reefs and barrier beaches, and landlocked harbours.

The British Virgin Islands is located in the Virgin Islands Archipelago and is bordered on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean and the west by the Caribbean Sea. From the westward side, Puerto Rico lies 95km away from the Islands. The U.S Virgin Islands also borders it in the northwest. The BVI are collectively 150 square kilometres in size, with Tortola being the largest island (20 square km).

The British Virgin Islands’ capital city is Road City, which is also the largest city located on the island of Tortola, where most people reside in.

Some of the facts to remember about BVI are:

  • Situated in North America
  • It is a British overseas territory
  • 50 Square kilometers in size
  • Has almost 60 islands, with only 16 being inhabited
  • The capital city is Road City
  • Estimated population of 35,802 people as of July 2018
  • The currency of transaction officially used is the United States Dollar

The BVI islands were named “Santa Úrsula y las Once Mil Vírgenes” by Christopher Columbus, following a legendary story of Santa Úrsula and 11,000 virgins. It was later renamed “the Virgin Islands” following the shorting of the name.

The British Virgin Islands has approximately 60 tropical Caribbean islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke — Tortola being the largest. Only 16 of the islands are inhabited. A good majority of the islands are volcanic in origin and are hilly and rugged terrain. The highest point of BVI is Mount Sage on Tortola at the height of 521m.

The people of the British Virgin Islands

The general population of the British Virgin Islands as of July 2018 was estimated to be 35,802. The majority reside in Tortola Island. The citizens of the British Virgin Islands are also citizens of Britain since 2002.

The British Virgin Islands is a cosmopolitan area whereby most of the inhabitants, 76 percent, are of African descent because the British used to bring slaves there. The other ethnic groups residing in the area are Hispanics, Europeans, Indians, Chinese, Filipinos, and people of mixed race.

The official language is British English though the commonly used one is English based on creole.

Ninety percent of the population are Christians, of which the majority are of the Protestant denomination. Other religions are Islam and Hinduism.

The Climate of the British Virgin Islands

The climate of the British Virgin Islands is a tropical rainforest climate, moderated by trade winds. Temperatures vary very little throughout the year. Rainfall averages about 1,150 mm per year, being higher in the hills and lower on the coast.

On average, the wettest months are September to November, and the driest months on average are February and March. The islands are prone to hurricanes, especially from June to November.

central america map location british virgin island business
America British Virgin Island Location Map with Country Flag

The Government of the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands is a parliamentary democracy with executive powers vested in the Queen of England. It is exercised by the Governor of the British Virgin Islands.

The head of government is the Premier, who gets elected after every four years together with other council members by adult suffrage. The Premier forms the government after that. The Premier nominates the cabinet, while the Governor appoints and chairs the cabinet.

The legislature comprises the Queen (represented by the Governor) and a unicameral House of Assembly made up of 13 elected members, the Speaker and the Attorney General, an Ex-Officio member.

The Islands’ defense is the responsibility of the government of the United Kingdom since it’s part of its territory.

Education in BVI

The British Virgin Islands is relatively safe and secure compared to the other Caribbean countries. Though major drug peddling countries surround the country, the British Virgin Islands is not classified as a “High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.” The government has enacted strict laws that curtail the same.

Culture in BVI

The primary language used in the British Virgin Islands is English, though also Spanish, and a local dialect is spoken there.

The famous music associated with the British Virgin Islands is the ”fungi,” which is a mashup of African and European music. The music is also a medium of local history and folklore, and It has been incorporated into the curriculum of the British Virgin Islands schools.

The fungi bands, also called “scratch bands,” use instruments such as calabash, washboard, bongos, and ukulele. They also employ traditional western instruments like the keyboard, banjo, guitar, bass, triangle, and saxophone. This kind of music is a form of festive dance, humorous social commentaries, and British Virgin Islands oral history.

The major sporting activities in the British Virgin Islands is sailing and basketball. Other sporting activities include windsurfing, scuba diving, and fishing. On the other hand, football, cricket, softball, baseball, cycling, and squash are examples of emergent sporting activities.

Infrastructure: Transportation

The British Virgin Islands has quite a good transport network. For example, Tortola has two main highways and several side routes. Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke also have adequate road systems. Small boats sail to and from the United States Virgin Islands.

Air travel is also not left behind. The main entry point by air is Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport, situated at Beef Island and is connected by bridge to Tortola. The airport on Anegada receives connecting flights from Beef Island. Tortola island has three deep-water ports.

The Economy of the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands economy is commonly referred to as ” the twin pillar economy” and is based on; Financial Services, accounting for 60 percent of the GDP, and Tourism accounting for about 40 to 45 percent of the GDP.

The British Virgin Islands is one of the most prosperous economies in the Caribbean region, with a per capita average income of around $42,300 as of 2010. The official currency being used in the British Virgin Islands is the United States Dollar.

The main economic activities in the British Virgin Islands are:

  • Tourism: The tourism industry contributes to about 45 percent of the British Virgin Islands economy. The islands as tourist destinations are frequented by U.S. citizens. The major tourist sites are the white-sand beaches, the Baths on Virgin Gorda, snorkel the coral reefs near Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke’s bars. The British Virgin Islands is known as one of the world’s most significant sailing destination. Several festivals, such as the Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, also attract both local and international tourists. Most tourists who visit the area are cruise ship passengers. In 2015 alone, a total of 922,372 people visited the islands, of whom 529,354 were cruise ship passengers.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture used to be the backbone of the economy until tourism replaced it in the 1970s. Livestock keeping is one of the most important agricultural activities. On the other hand, the main crops grown are bananas, sugarcane, coconuts, citrus fruits, mangoes, and some root crops. Most crops grown are for local consumption though some are exported.
  • Fishing: Fishing in the coastal waters is a growing industry, and the exportation of fresh fish is on the increase as well.
  • Manufacturing: Rum, paint, and building materials (sand and gravel) are manufactured locally. Cottage industries produce woven baskets and other items that most tourists purchase as souvenirs.
  • Trade: International trade is thriving in the British Virgin Islands. Imports, most of which are from the United States, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom, include foodstuffs, beverages, machinery, motor vehicles, building materials, and petroleum products. The main exports, especially to the United States Virgin Islands, are fresh fish, rum, sand, gravel, charcoal, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Financial Services: This accounts for more than 50% of the territory’s GDP. The majority of this revenue is raised by the licensing of offshore companies and related services.

Conducting A Business in The British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands has one of the most successful economies in the Caribbean and is globally ranked, in terms of purchasing power as 215th out of 229 countries. The country experiences a GDP per capita growth of 3.2% as of 2017 statistics.

In 2015, the British Virgin Islands was assessed as the 34th when it comes to global financial centers. This was the highest-ranking of any offshore financial center and any Latin American country. The favorable economic policies, good infrastructure, strategic location, security, and political stability in the British Virgin Islands make it alluring for both local and international investors.

Interested investors can explore and maximize on the following sectors of the economy:

  • Tourism
  • Agriculture
  • Trade
  • Fishing
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial Services

In a nutshell, the British Virgin Islands is a territory of hidden treasures worth exploring. It has a tranquil environment that favors both business and tourism. It is open to everyone, and the hospitality of its citizens is quite encouraging. It is a place worth considering for your next vacation or investment move.

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