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Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands

Immediately to the northeast of the U.S. Virgin Islands are the British Virgin Islands, officially the Virgin Islands, a British dependency (2005 est. pop. 22,600), 59 sq mi (153 sq km). There are more than 30 islands; 16 are inhabited. The principal ones are Tortola, Anegada, and Virgin Gorda. Road Town, the capital, is on Tortola. Tourism, light industry, and offshore financial services are the most important economic activities. Britain acquired the islands from the Dutch in 1666. Granted autonomy in 1967, they are governed under the constitution of 2007. There is a unicameral House of Assembly whose 13 voting members are elected to four-year terms. The government is headed by a premier, and the monarch of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by a governor, is the head of state.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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