British Virgin Islands (BVI) 2

British Virgin Islands (BVI)

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In 2017 Hurricane Irma struck the islands, causing four deaths and immense damage.

Geography:

British Virgin Islands (BVI) 3
Map of the British Virgin Islands (Note: Anegada is farther away from the other islands than shown)

The British Virgin Islands comprise around 60 tropical Caribbean islands, ranging in size from the largest, Tortola, being 20 km (12 mi) long and 5 km (3 mi) wide, to tiny uninhabited islets, altogether about 150 square kilometers (58 square miles) in extent. They are located in the Virgin Islands archipelago, a few miles east of the US Virgin Islands, and about 95 km (59 mi) from the Puerto Rican mainland. About 150 km (93 mi) east south-east lies Anguilla. The North Atlantic Ocean lies to the east of the islands, and the Caribbean Sea lies to the west. Most of the islands are volcanic in origin and have a hilly, rugged terrain. The highest point is Mount Sage on Tortola at 521m. Anegada is geologically distinct from the rest of the group, being a flat island composed of limestone and coral.

Economy:

The twin pillars of the economy are financial services (60%) and tourism (roughly 40-45% of GDP). Politically, tourism is the more important of the two, as it employs a greater number of people within the territory, and a larger proportion of the businesses in the tourist industry are locally owned, as are a number of the highly tourism-dependent sole traders (for example, taxi drivers and street vendors).

Economically however, financial services associated with the territory’s status as an offshore financial center are by far the more important. 51.8% of the Government’s revenue comes directly from license fees for offshore companies, and considerable further sums are raised directly or indirectly from payroll taxes relating to salaries paid within the trust industry sector (which tend to be higher on average than those paid in the tourism sector).

British Virgin Islands (BVI) 5
Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Transportation:

There are 113 kilometres (70 mi) of roads. The main airport, Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport, also known as Beef Island Airport, is located on Beef Island, which lies off the eastern tip of Tortola and is accessible by the Queen Elizabeth II BridgeCape Air, and Air Sunshine are among the airlines offering scheduled service. Virgin Gorda and Anegada have their own smaller airports. Private air charter services operated by Island Birds Air Charter fly directly to all three islands from any major airport in the Caribbean. Helicopters are used to get to islands with no runway facilities; Antilles Helicopter Services is the only helicopter service based in the country.

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