Latin America & Caribbean

Bermuda profile

Map of Bermuda

Bermuda, a densely-populated British overseas territory in the western Atlantic Ocean, has one of the world's most prosperous economies, largely because of its offshore finance industry.

Beaches, golf courses, colonial buildings and the subtropical climate also attract some half a million tourists a year but the self-governing territory has not escaped the global economic recession.

The 16th century Spanish sea captain, Juan de Bermudez, is believed to have discovered the archipelago of seven main islands and more than 170 islets. England took control of Bermuda in the late 17th century and slaves, mostly brought from Africa, came to outnumber the colonists. Today, three-fifths of the population are of African descent with the remainder of mostly-European extraction.

The 1968 constitution guaranteed internal self-government but tension in the 1970s saw the assassination of the colony's governor and rioting. British troops went in to restore order and recent polls show a large majority opposed to independence.

In May 2013, Bermuda along with several other territories in the Caribbean, signed agreements on sharing tax information with Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

LEADERS

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor

Premier: David Burt

David Burt was sworn in as premier of Bermuda in July 2017 after leading the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) to a stunning victory in the general election.

In November 2016, he was promoted to PLP leader after the incumbent Marc Bean resigned. He held US citizenship until his first appointment to the Bermudian Senate and Cabinet in November 2010, when he renounced his American nationality.

The territory is believed to have one of the oldest parliaments in the world; a representative assembly was established in 1620.

MEDIA

The islands' broadcasting scene is dominated by two commercial players, the Bermuda Broadcasting Company and VSB.

TIMELINE

Circa 1503 - Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermudez sights the islands.

Early 1600s - African and American Indian slaves are brought to the islands. By 1617 they outnumber white settlers.

1684 - Bermuda becomes an English crown colony.

1968 - New constitution introduced. British monarch is head of state, represented by a governor and internal self-government is granted.

1973 - Tensions rise, culminating in the assassination of Governor Richard Sharples.

1977 - Riots and demonstrations for civil rights follow execution of Sharples' murderer. State of emergency is declared and British forces are sent to restore order.

1995 - Independence referendum: pro-independence Progressive Labour Party (PLP) encourages voters to boycott poll. Majority votes against independence.

2003 - Hurricane Fabian, worst storm in 50 years, sweeps across Bermuda with winds of up to 125 mph. Royal Navy task force heads out to offer assistance.

2009 - Bermuda added to OECD's "white list" of countries complying with internationally agreed tax standards, after signing information exchange agreements with several countries.

2012 - One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) wins general election, ending PLP's three straight terms in office.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bermuda has one of the world's most prosperous economies thanks to the flourishing offshore finance industry

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