The Caribbean Paradise
The British Virgin Islands, known commonly as the Virgin Islands, are a group of islands located to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands are a British Overseas Territory, although they are not part of the EU. However, Virgin Island residents are also considered as British citizens, so they are practically citizens of the EU. The islands consist of several main islands including Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, in addition to about 50 other smaller islands. They were inhabited by several indigenous tribes until they were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, beginning the era of colonization and foreign settlements.
A lot of the islands are actually small and uninhabited, although they are among popular tourist destinations. What makes the Virgin Islands a welcoming place for tourists is the fact that the primary language among residents is British English. Being a popular tourist destination, the British Virgin Islands have an economy which is mainly dependent on tourism and financial services, as it is considered a tax haven for foreign businesses.
While the economy of the Virgin Islands is considered one of the strongest in the region, income inequality is a major problem that has been observed. Interestingly, unlike other British Overseas Territories, the currency of the Virgin Islands is the United States dollar.
A Challenging Climate
Unfortunately, while the position of the British Virgin Islands makes for near perfect weather all year round, it left the islands in the way of the strongest storm to ever hit the Atlantic – Hurricane Irma. The storm hit the islands in September of 2017, and not only did it leave 85% of the islands’ buildings and infrastructure destroyed, it also gave a strong blow to the economy, leaving the islands like many other neighbouring areas struggling to rebuild and regain their ground on the world’s top tourist destination list.
Fortunately enough, the Virgin Islands’ economy was resilient enough to the damages. While the biggest challenge was how to get rid of tonnes of debris to regain the islands’ beautiful landscape, it was crucial for the government to get this mission done, since the islands’ economy relies largely on tourism. Tourism makes up about 95% of the nation’s GDP. Luckily, in the months since the storm, the Virgin Islands managed to reach about 85% of the numbers for tourism from previous years, which is very impressive. According to government officials, now would be a perfect time to visit the islands, in order to encourage the rebuilding efforts and support the economy.
According to officials, a lot of the restored hotel rooms and tours were instantly booked once available after the hurricane struck. This means that the Virgin Islands’ unique beaches and wildlife has caught the hearts of the many people who have decided to go back to support the islands’ rebuilding efforts. It is predicted that the islands will be restored to their previous condition by the end of 2018, so visitors can return to experience the islands in full force.