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Flag of Bermuda

BASIC INFORMATION

Map of Bermuda
Full Name: Bermuda
Status: British Overseas Territory
Area: 53.3 sq km (21 sq miles)
Population: 62,059 (2000 CENSUS)
Capital City: Hamilton
Languages: English. There is also a significant Portuguese-speaking community.
Religion(s): Mainly Christian although many faiths are represented. The most popular denominations are Anglican and African Methodist Episcopalian (AME).
Currency: Bermuda Dollar (parity with US Dollar)
Major political parties: Progressive Labour Party (PLP), United Bermuda Party (UBP)
Governor: Sir John Vereker KCB
Premier:
The Honourable William Alexander Scott

GEOGRAPHY

The islands and islets of Bermuda (32 degrees 18'N and 64 degrees 46'W) lie along the southern rim of the summit of a submarine volcanic mountain in the Western Atlantic. Bermuda, a group of about 138 islands and islets, lies 570 miles east of the coast of North Carolina. The eight main islands form a chain about 22 miles long, interconnected by bridges and causeways. The warming effect of the Gulf Stream makes Bermuda the most northerly group of coral islands in the world.

HISTORY

The Bermudas were visited in about 1505 by a Spanish sailor, Juan de Bermudez, and had been given the name 'La Bermuda' by 1510. Ferdinand d'Orviedo (also Spanish) sighted them in 1515. They remained uninhabited until 1609, when The Sea Venture, commanded by Sir George Somers on its way to Virginia with British settlers, was wrecked on reefs close to the eastern shores. The survivors were able to build two ships and continue their journey to Jamestown - bringing with them much needed supplies for Bermuda. News spread of the beauty and fertility of the islands, and in 1612 King James I and VI extended the charter of the Virginia Company to include them. The first emigrants went out in that year; others followed, and enslaved Africans were brought with them as house servants. The islands, which became known as Somers Islands, were bought about 1615 by some entrepreneurs from the City of London. The settlers became weary of the restrictions imposed on them by the Virginia Company and its successor the Bermuda Company. They took their case to London and in 1684 the company's charter was annulled, and government passed to the Crown. As elsewhere in the British empire, slavery was abolished in Bermuda in August 1834.

POLITICS

Constitutional Status

Bermuda is Britain's oldest colony and its Parliament, which first met in 1620, is the oldest legislature in the Commonwealth outside the British Isles. Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory and is self-governing with a high degree of control over its own affairs. Appointed by and representing the British monarch, the Governor in turn appoints the majority leader in the House of Assembly as Premier. The Premier has complete responsibility for choosing the Cabinet, which must include at least six other members of the legislature, and allocating portfolios, though the Governor retains responsibility for external affairs, defence, internal security and the police.

Recent Political Developments

On 24 July the PLP, led by Jennifer Smith, defeated the UBP in a General Election winning 22 of the 36 seats.  The election was followed by a period of infighting within the PLP culminating on 28 July with Jennifer Smith tendering her resignation as Prime Minister and leader of the PLP.  William Alexander Scott became the new leader of the PLP and was sworn in as the new Premier of Bermuda on 29 July.

The Composition of the House of Assembly is: 22 PLP and 14 UBP. The PLP first won an election in 1998. A referendum on independence was held in Bermuda on 16 August 1995. Over 58% of the electorate took part in the referendum. 25% voted for independence and over 73% voted against.

Elections

24 July 2003.

Government

Governor: Sir John Vereker KCB
Deputy Governor's Office:
Deputy Governor: Nick Carter
Executive Officer: Malcolm Ostler
Deputy Governor's Office
Government House
Hamilton
Bermuda
Tel: 001 441 292 2587
Fax: 001441 292 6831

Government Ministers

Premier: The Hon William Alexander Scott
Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport: The Hon Ewart Frederick Brown Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Education: The Hon Paula Ann CoxMinister of Finance: The Hon Cyril Eugene Cox
Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety: The Hon Kenneth Howard Randolph Horton
Minister of Works and Engineering and Housing: The Hon Terry Eugene Lister
Minister of the Environment: The Hon Dorothy Neletha Isobel Butterfield
Minister of Tourism, Telecommunications and E-Commerce: The Hon Maurine Dornette Rennee Webb
Minister of Health and Family Services: The Hon Patricia Kimberley Minors
Minister of Legislative Affairs: The Hon Michael Scott
Minister without Portfolio: The Hon Ashfield Everseley DeVent
Minister of Community Affairs and Sport: The Hon Dale De Lloyd Butler

ECONOMY

Basic Economic Facts

GDP:
US$ 3.3 billion (2002 estimate)
GDP per head: US$ 54,740 (2002 estimate)
Annual Growth: 1.93% (2002 estimate)
Inflation: 2.5% (November 2002)
Major Industries: Reinsurance, tourism
Major trading partners: USA
Exchange rate: UK£1 = B$1.60 (parity with US Dollar)

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Bermuda's Relations with Neighbours

Bermuda's closest neighbours are the US and Canada. Bermuda has had strong historical links with US in trade and as a strategic military position. During the Second World War, a US military base was established at Kindley Field. Under a treaty between the US and Britain, its airport was opened to civilian aircraft. The base was closed down and its personnel repatriated in 1995. Bermuda is often linked with the Caribbean region, even though it is approximately 1000 miles away.

Bermuda's Relations with the International Community

HMG in the UK is responsible for Bermuda's external relations.

BERMUDA'S RELATIONS WITH THE

UK Diplomatic Representation

HMG in the UK is responsible for Bermuda's external relations, defence and internal security. The principal point of contact is Overseas Territories Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (+44 207 008 3596) and the Deputy Governor's Office, Government House, Bermuda (+1 441 292 2587).

UK Representative of Bermuda

There is no UK Representative for the Government of Bermuda

UK Development Assistance

None

Trade and Investment with the UK

UK exports: £326 million (2000) UK imports: £2 million (2000)
This is an external link Trade Partners UK Country Profile: Bermuda

HUMAN RIGHTS

Overseas Territories legislation should comply with the same international obligations to which Britain is subject. The following major Conventions apply in Bermuda: European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (ICESCR) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

HEALTH HIV/AIDS

17 cases of AIDS reported in 1998

TRAVEL


SPORTS

Bermudians are very sports minded. Soccer and cricket are both very popular on the island. A number of Bermudians have made a name for themselves in the UK, including Shaun Goater who plays for Manchester City; Kyle Lightbourn who played for Stoke and Clyde Best who played for West Ham. The island has also produced world-class sailors. Bermuda regularly competes in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

BERMUDA'S FLAG

Bermuda is almost unique in its use of a defaced Red Ensign on land as a national flag. This was based on the defaced Red Ensign which Canada received permission to display in 1892 (the states of Manitoba and Ontario still use defaced Red Ensigns as state flags). Because there were connections between Canada, Bermuda and the Bahamas, the latter two started using defaced Ensigns without permission until 1967 when the Bermuda flag was given official recognition.

USEFUL LINKS






Last updated – 1 August 2003

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