Population: 67,837 (July 2010 estimate)
Land Area: 21 square miles (54 sq km)
Coastline: 64 miles (103 km)
Highest Point: Town Hill at 249 feet (76 m)
Bermuda is an overseas self-governing territory of the United Kingdom. It is a very small island archipelago located in the northern Atlantic Ocean about 650 miles (1,050 km) off the coast of North Carolina in the United States. Bermuda is the oldest of the British overseas territories and according to the United States Department of State, its largest city, Saint George, is known as "the oldest continuously inhabited English-Speaking settlement in the Western Hemisphere." The archipelago is also known for its prosperous economy, tourism and subtropical climate.
History of Bermuda
Bermuda was first discovered in 1503 by Juan de Bermudez, a Spanish explorer. The Spanish did not settle the islands, which were uninhabited, at that time because they were surrounded by dangerous coral reefs which made them difficult to reach.
In 1609, a ship of British colonists landed on the islands after a shipwreck. They remained there for ten months and sent a variety of reports on the islands back to England. In 1612, the king of England, King James, included what is present-day Bermuda in the Charter of the Virginia Company. Shortly thereafter, 60 British colonists arrived on the islands and founded Saint George.
In 1620, Bermuda became a self-governing colony of England after representative government was introduced there. For the rest of the 17th century however, Bermuda was mainly considered an outpost because the islands were so isolated. During this time, its economy was centered on shipbuilding and the trading of salt.
The slave trade also grew in Bermuda during the territory's early years but it was outlawed in 1807. By 1834, all slaves in Bermuda were freed. As a result, today, the majority of Bermuda's population is descended from Africa.
Bermuda's first constitution was drafted in 1968 and since then there have been several movements for independence but the islands still remain a British territory today.
Government of Bermuda
Because Bermuda is a British territory, its governmental structure resembles that of British government. It has a parliamentary form of government that is considered a self-governing territory. Its executive branch is made up of a chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II, and a head of government. Bermuda's legislative branch is a bicameral Parliament composed of the Senate and the House of Assembly. Its judicial branch is made up of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Magistrate Courts. Its legal system is also based on English laws and customs. Bermuda is divided into nine parishes (Devonshire, Hamilton, Paget, Pembroke, Saint George's, Sandys, Smith's, Southampton and Warwick) and two municipalities (Hamilton and Saint George) for local administration.
Economics and Land Use in Bermuda
Although small, Bermuda has a very strong economy and the third highest per capita income in the world. As a result, it has a high cost of living and high real estate prices. Bermuda's economy is mainly based on financial services for international businesses, luxury tourism and the related services and very light manufacturing. Only 20% of Bermuda's land is arable, so agriculture does not play a large role in its economy but some of the crops grown there include bananas, vegetables, citrus and flowers. Dairy products and honey are also produced in Bermuda.
Geography and Climate of Bermuda
Bermuda is an island archipelago located in the northern Atlantic Ocean. The closest large landmass to the islands is the United States, specifically, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It consists of seven main islands and hundreds of small islands and islets. The seven main islands of Bermuda are clustered together and are connected via bridges. This area is called the Island of Bermuda.
Bermuda's topography consists of low hills that are separated by depressions. These depressions are very fertile and they are where the majority of Bermuda's agriculture takes place. The highest point on Bermuda is Town Hill at just 249 feet (76 m). The smaller islands of Bermuda are mainly coral islands (about 138 of them). Bermuda has no natural rivers or freshwater lakes.
The climate of Bermuda is considered subtropical and it is mild most of the year. It can be humid at times however and it receives abundant rainfall. Strong winds are common during Bermuda's winters and it is prone to hurricanes from June to November because of its position in the Atlantic along the Gulf Stream. Because the islands of Bermuda are so small however, direct landfall of hurricanes is rare. Bermuda's most damaging hurricane to date was the category 3 Hurricane Fabian which hit in September 2003. Most recently, in September 2010, Hurricane Igor moved toward the islands.
More Facts about Bermuda
• The average cost of a home in Bermuda exceeded $1,000,000 by the mid-2000's.
• Bermuda's main natural resource is limestone which is used for building.
• Bermuda's official language is English.
Central Intelligence Agency. (19 August 2010). CIA - The World Factbook - Bermuda. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bd.html
Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Bermuda: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108106.html#axzz0zu00uqsb
United States Department of State. (19 April 2010). Bermuda. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5375.htm
Wikipedia.com. (18 September 2010). Bermuda - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermuda