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The British Virgin Islands (BVI), officially the Virgin Islands, is a British overseas territory located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands make up part of the Virgin Islands archipelago; the remaining islands constitute the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands.
The official name of the Territory is still simply the "Virgin Islands", but the prefix "British" is often used to distinguish it from the neighbouring American territory which changed its name from the "Danish West Indies" to "Virgin Islands of the United States" in 1917.
The capital, Road Town, is situated on Tortola, the largest island, which is approximately 12 mi long and 3 mi wide.
The 58-square-mile of the British Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, along with over fifty other smaller islands and cays. About 15 of the islands are inhabited.
Other islands included besides the four main islands, are:
- Beef Island (connected to Tortola)
- Cooper Island
- Ginger Island
- Great Camanoe
- Great Thatch
- Guana Island (owned by Henry Jarecki)
- Little Thatch (owned by John and Jill Maynard)
- Mosquito Island (owned by Sir Richard Branson)
- Necker Island (owned by Sir Richard Branson)
- Norman Island (owned by Henry Jarecki)
- Peter Island (owned by Van Andel family)
- Salt Island
- Prickly Pear
- Saba Rock
- Frenchman's Cay (connected to Tortola)
- Nanny Cay (connected to Tortola)
- Scrub Island
- Sandy Cay
- Green Cay
- Sandy Spit
- Little Jost Van Dyke
- Great Tobago
- Little Tobago
- Dog Islands a.k.a. "The Dogs"
The British Virgin Islands enjoy a tropical climate, moderated by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. In the capital, Road Town, typical daily maxima are around 89.6 °F in the summer and 84.2 °F in the winter. Typical daily minima are around 75.2 °F in the summer and 69.8 °F in the winter.
Rainfall averages about 45.3 in per year, higher in the hills and lower on the coast. Rainfall can be quite variable, but the wettest months on average are September to November and the driest months on average are February and March. Hurricanes occasionally hit the islands, with the hurricane season running from June to November.
Tourism in The British Virgin Islands
Tourism accounts for approximately 45% of national income. The islands are a popular destination for US citizens. Tourists frequent the numerous white sand beaches, visit The Baths on Virgin Gorda, snorkel the coral reefs near Anegada, or experience the well-known bars of Jost Van Dyke.
The BVI are known as one of the world's greatest sailing destinations, and charter sailboats are a very popular way to visit less accessible islands. Every year since 1972 the BVI has hosted the Spring Regatta, which is a seven-day collection of sailing races throughout the islands.
A substantial number of the tourists who visit the BVI are cruise ship passengers, although they produce far lower revenue per head than charter boat tourists and hotel based tourists.
The bulk of the tourism income in the British Virgin Islands is generated by the yacht chartering industry. The Territory has relatively few large hotels compared to other tourism centres in the Caribbean. The British Virgin Islands also entertain cruise ships, although these generate relatively little revenue. However, cruise ship passengers are an important source of revenue for taxi drivers, who represent a politically important voice in the Territory. They are nonetheless important to the substantial taxi driving community. Only Virgin Islanders are permitted to work as taxi drivers.
The official currency of the British Virgin Islands has been the United States dollar (US$) since 1959, the currency also used by the United States Virgin Islands.
Map of British Virgin Islands