Known as a notorious pirate hideout in the 16th century, the Danish, Dutch, English, French and Spanish all fought for control of the territory, with the Dutch eventually establishing a permanent settlement on the island of Tortola in 1648. However, the English soon captured Tortola from the Dutch in 1672 and annexed Anegada and Virgin Gorda in 1680. Sugar Cane was introduced to the territory by the British, which would soon become the main crop and source of foreign trade in the territory, and slaves were brought from Africa to work on the sugar cane plantations. However, with the abolition of slavery in the territory, a series of disastrous hurricanes, and the growth in the sugar beet crop in Europe and the United States led to sugar cane production going way down in the 19th century. The territory would then focus on financial services and tourism instead, and become one of the richest areas of the Caribbean.
This emphasis on financial services has led to it being characterised as a tax haven, and getting a reputation for corruption. Given the rampant corruption revealed by the 2016 'Panama Papers', and that in May 2022, the Premier was arrested in the US on drug smuggling and money laundering charges after being caught in a sting operation, this isn't entirely unwarranted. As a result, threats from London to impose direct rule are not entirely uncommon, and a review following the arrest found the state of governance to be "appalling" and recommended direct rule. So far, London has held off and given the new administration two years to put reforms in place. At the same time, however, it has moved to make imposing direct rule easier, if it is deemed necessary.
The British Virgin Islands are also known as one of the world's best sailing destinations, with charter sailboats being a very popular way of getting around the territory, and the Spring Regatta sailing races have been hosted there since 1972.
British Virgin Islands in media
- 1983: Doomsday: The British Virgin Islands is a member of the East Carribbean Federation.
- Polandball: British Virgin Islandsball
British Virgin Islander flag
The British National Anthem
The British Virgin Islander National Song
- Parliamentary dependency under a constitutional monarchy
- Monarch: Charles III
- Commissioner: Ben Merrick
- Deputy Commissioner: Stephen Hilton
- Administrator: Kit Pyman
- Capital and largest city: Road Town
- Population: 30,030
- Area: 153 km² (59 sq mi)
- Currency: United States dollar ($) (USD)
- ISO-3166-1 Code: VG
- Country calling code: 1 (area code 284)