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Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is about 1,035 km (643 mi) east-southeast of Cape HatterasNorth Carolina (with Cape Point on Hatteras Island being the nearest landfall); 1,236 km (768 mi) south of Cape Sable IslandNova Scotia; 1,759 km (1,093 mi) northeast of Cuba, and 1,538 km (956 mi) due north of the British Virgin Islands. Though typically referred to in the singular, Bermuda has 181 islands; the largest of these being Main Island. Bermuda’s capital city is Hamilton. Bermuda is internally self-governing, with its constitution and cabinet of ministers selected from the elected Members of the lower house of a Parliament that enacts local laws. As the national government, the Government of the United Kingdom is ultimately responsible for ensuring good governance within British Overseas Territories, and retains responsibility for defense and foreign relations. As of July 2018, it had a population of 71,176, making it the most populous of the British overseas territories. Bermuda’s largest industries are offshore insurancereinsurance, and tourism. Bermuda had one of the world’s highest GDP per capita for most of the 20th century.

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Bermuda on the Globe

Bermuda’s climate is subtropical, primarily due to its chilly but mild winter temperatures. Unlike other designated subtropical areas, summers are also mild, with temperatures generally not rising above 30°C (86°F) in the hottest months of July and August. Its climate also exhibits oceanic features similar to other oceanic islands and western coasts of continents in the Northern Hemisphere: mean wind direction is from the west and carries warm, moist air from the ocean, ensuring relatively high humidity and stabilizing temperature. Bermuda lies in Hurricane Alley and thus is prone to severe weather; however, it receives some protection from a coral reef and its position at the north of the belt, which limits the direction and severity of approaching storms.



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First map of the islands of Bermuda in 1511
Bermuda was discovered in the early 1500s by Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez. Bermuda had no indigenous population when it was discovered, nor during initial British settlement a century later. It was mentioned in Legatio Babylonica, published in 1511 by historian Pedro Mártir de Anglería, and was included on Spanish charts of that year. Both Spanish and Portuguese ships used the islands as a replenishment spot to take on fresh meat and water. Shipwrecked Portuguese mariners are now thought to have been responsible for the 1543 inscription on Portuguese Rock, previously called Spanish Rock. Legends arose of spirits and devils, now thought to have stemmed from the calls of raucous birds (most likely the Bermuda petrel, or cahow) and loud nocturnal noises from wild hogs. With its frequent storm-wracked conditions and dangerous reefs, the archipelago became known as the ‘Isle of Devils’. Neither Spain nor Portugal attempted to settle it.

Settlement by the English:

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John Smith wrote one of the first histories of Bermuda in 1624
For the next century, the island was frequently visited but not settled. The English began to focus on the New World, initially settling in Virginia, starting the Thirteen Colonies. After the failure of its first two colonies there, a more determined effort was initiated by King James I of England, who let the Virginia Company establish a colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Two years later, a flotilla of seven ships left England with several hundred settlers, food, and supplies to relieve the colony of Jamestown. However the flotilla was broken up by a storm. One ship, Sea Venture, landed on Bermuda’s reef and reached the shores safely, with all 151 of its passengers surviving. While there, they started a new settlement and built two small ships, Deliverance and Patience, to sail on to Jamestown. Bermuda was now claimed for the English Crown.

On 10 May 1610, the remaining survivors of Sea Venture sailed on to Jamestown. The Virginia Company’s admiral, George Somers returned to Bermuda with the Patience to obtain food for the starving Jamestown settlers but died in Bermuda; the Patience instead sailed for England. In 1612, the English began settlement of the archipelago, officially named Virgineola, with arrival of the ship the Plough. New London (renamed St. George’s Town) was settled that year and designated as the colony’s first capital. It is the oldest continually inhabited English town in the New World.

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