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Synopsis

The British Virgin Islands ("BVI") are situated in the northeastern Caribbean approximately 60 miles east of Puerto Rico. They are a chain of 40 small islands Map which are part of the same archipelago as the United States Virgin Islands. The 4 largest islands are Tortola and Beef Island, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. The capital, Road Town, is situated on Tortola. The total population is approximately 12,000 with about 9,000 of these living on Tortola.

The Islands are a British Dependent Territory which became self-governing in 1967 and are a member of the British Commonwealth. Government is by an executive council consisting of the Governor, who is appointed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, the Chief Minister, three other ministers and the Attorney General. The Chief Minister is generally the Finance Minister and is also head of immigration. The Governor is responsible for foreign affairs, the police force and internal security.

The legal and court system is based upon that of the United Kingdom, so UK Common Law applies but this is supplemented by local Ordinances. The official language is English and literacy is almost 100%. The official currency is the US Dollar and there is no exchange control or restrictions on the flow of currency in or out of the territory.

The main industry of the BVI is still tourism but the finance sector is playing an increasingly important part in the economy. BVI is the most popular jurisdiction in which to incorporate an offshore company having been the beneficiary of much business which left Panama during the Noriega regime. Living standards are amongst the highest in the Caribbean.

Communications are excellent. Telephone, telex and cable services are state of the art, and there are a large number of daily flights connecting Tortola with San Juan, Puerto Rico (which is an international hub with non stop flights to the USA, South America and Europe).