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Montserrat: Population
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Society and Its Environment > Population


The total population of the British Virgin Islands was estimated in 1986 to be 12,000. Annual population growth averaged 1.6 percent over the 1982-85 period. About 500 expatriates from Western Europe and North America also reportedly resided on the islands. Eighty-five percent of the total population lived on Tortola, 9 percent on Virgin Gorda, and about 3 percent each on the islands of Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. In general, the islands were underpopulated in comparison with most of the West Indies, having a population density of only 78.4 per square kilometer. Despite the relatively uncrowded conditions on the islands, the government applied very strict immigration controls against other Caribbean nationals attracted by the islands' relatively prosperous economy.

The people of the British Virgin Islands are primarily black. Life expectancy at birth among the islanders in 1982 was 70.2 years. In 1982 the birth rate was 20.7, and the infant mortality rate was 42.6 per 1,000 live births. The overall population of the British Virgin Islands was young; 34 percent were under age 15, and only 8.6 percent were over age 60.

Anguilla's population stood at 6,800 as of 1987; in addition, a small number of expatriates from North America and Western Europe lived on the island. Annual population growth averaged 0.7 percent between 1982 and 1985. About 10 percent of the population lived in the capital, The Valley, in the central part of the island. Like the British Virgin Islands, the island of Anguilla had a low population density for the Caribbean -- 76.9 people per square kilometer.

The people of Anguilla are mainly black, but there are some whites, descended from a party of Irishmen who landed on the island in 1698. Life expectancy at birth on Anguilla in 1982 was the same as on the British Virgin Islands (70.2). The birth rate in 1982 was 26.2 live births per 1,000 of the population. At the same time, the infant mortality rate was 13.6 per 1,000 births. Approximately 28 percent of the population was under 15 years of age, and only 13 percent was over 60 years of age.

Montserrat's population in 1986 was estimated at 12,000. The population grew at an average annual rate of 0.6 percent during 1982-85. About 10 percent of the population resided in Plymouth, the capital. Montserrat's population has risen since 1970, following thirty years of emigration resulting from poor economic conditions and prospects on the island. The population density of the island in 1982 stood at 117.6 per square kilometer.

Montserrat's population is 90 percent black and mulatto, with some whites of Irish ancestry. Shortly after the initial English settlement of the island in the first half of the seventeenth century, a large group of Irishmen arrived on Montserrat. Whether they were exiled from Ireland or came voluntarily from other Caribbean islands remains unknown, but their legacy on Montserrat can be seen in a number of red-haired islanders.

Life expectancy at birth among Montserratians in 1982 was 70.2 years. The birth rate in 1982 was 22.3 live births per 1,000. In comparison with the rate on the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, the infant mortality rate on Montserrat in 1982 was low -- 7.7 per 1,000 live births. The age distribution on Montserrat varied slightly from the pattern of the other two island groups; only 31.5 percent of the population was under 15 years of age, while close to 17 percent was over 60.

In all three territories, the predominant religion was Christianity. Approximately 42 percent of the population in the British Virgin Islands was Methodist, and 25 percent, Anglican. The remaining 33 percent of the population included Roman Catholics, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and members of the Church of God.

Anguillians belonged mostly to Anglican or Methodist congregations; each denomination claimed 43 percent of the population. Baptists, Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and members of Apostolic Faith and Second Bethany Gospel Hall congregations accounted for the remaining 14 percent of the population. Anguillians were highly religious, which accounted for the great opposition to casino gambling proposals in the 1980s.

Like the other two island groups, Montserrat was primarily Anglican and Methodist. Approximately 33 percent of Montserratians were Anglican, and 25 percent were Methodist. The remaining 42 percent of the population belonged to Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Pentecostal, or Roman Catholic congregations.

Data as of November 1987

Last Updated: November 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Montserrat was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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