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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Country facts

Full name: Bermuda
Status: British Overseas Territory
Area: 53.3 sq km (21 sq miles)
Population: 64,722 (June 2011 estimate)
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), One Bermuda Alliance (OBA)., United Bermuda Party (UBP).
Governor: Sir Richard Gozney KCMG, CVO
Premier: The Hon Paula Cox JP MP

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ECONOMY

Basic economic facts

GDP: US$5.6 billion (December 2010)
GDP per capita: US$86,523 (2010)
GDP growth: -2.5% (2009)
Inflation: +2.5% (June 2011)
Major industries: Insurance, re-insurance, international finance, tourism, light manufacturing
Major trading partners: USA
Exchange rate: US$1=BDA$1

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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.

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

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 in 1995, and the formal termination of the lease completed in 2003. Bermuda is often linked in people's minds with the Caribbean region, even though it is approximately 1,000 miles away and its communications and economy are linked overwhelmingly with the United States.

Relations with the international community

The UK is responsible for Bermuda's external relations. Under the General Entrustment (revised in 2009), the Government of Bermuda is, however, authorised to conduct certain aspects of external relations with the prior approval of the UK Government. See General Entrustment (http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/travel-advice/bermuda_entrustment) (opens as PDF 52.2 KB) for more details.

Relations with the UK

Diplomatic relations

The British Government in the UK is responsible for Bermuda's external relations, defence and internal security. The principal points of contact are Overseas Territories Directorate, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (+44 20 7008 3596) and the Deputy Governor's Office, Government House, Bermuda (+1 441 292 3600).

UK representative of Bermuda

UK Representative: Ms Kimberley Durrant, Government of Bermuda London Office, 6 Arlington Street, London SW1A 1RE (Tel: 020 7518 9900, Fax: 020 7518 9901, Email: kdurrant@gov.bm (kdurrant@gov.bm) , Website: http://www.gov.bm (http://www.gov.bm) )

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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.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and investment with the UK

UK exports to Bermuda: £20.6 million (2009).

UK development assistance

None.

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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 6 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

The current government, the PLP (Progressive Labour Party), was re-elected for the third time at the last General Election held on 18 December 2007. The composition of the House of Assembly is 24 seats for the PLP and 12 seats for the Opposition (10 One Bermuda Alliance and two United Bermuda Party ). The Premier and Leader of the PLP, Ms Paula Cox, has held the office since 31 October 2010.

One key issue remains: independence, which the current government favours. A referendum on independence was last held in 1995, and of the 58% of the electorate who participated, 25% voted in favour. Opinion polls since have consistently shown large majorities against independence.

Elections

Last held on 18 December 2007.

Government

Governor: Sir Richard Gozney KCMG, CVO

Deputy Governor's Office

Deputy Governor: David Arkley
Government House
Hamilton
Bermuda
Tel: 001 441 292 3600
Fax: 001 441 295 3823

Government ministers

Premier and Minister of Finance: The Hon Paula Cox JP MP
Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport: The Hon Derrick Burgess JP MP
Minister of National Security: The Hon Wayne Perinchief CPM JP MP
Minister of Education: The Hon Dame Jennifer Smith DBE DHumL JP MP
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry: The Hon Patrice Minors JP MP
Minister of Business Development and Tourism: The Hon Wayne Furbert JP MP
Attorney General and Minister of Justice: Senator the Hon Kim Wilson JP
Minister of the Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy: The Hon Marc Bean JP MP
Minister of Government Estates and Information Services (including Charities): The Hon Michael Scott JP MP
Minister of Youth Affairs and Families: The Hon Glenn Blakeney JP MP
Minister of Health: The Hon Zane DeSilva JP MP
Minister of Public Works and Community Development: The Hon Michael Weeks JP MP

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HUMAN RIGHTS

Overseas Territories are expected to comply with their obligations under the international human rights instruments which have been extended to them. 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)

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Last Updated: December 2011

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