|Government||British overseas territory with internal self-government|
|Currency||Bermudian dollar (BMD); par with US dollar|
|Area||total: 53.3 sq km |
water: 0 sq km
land: 53.3 sq km
|Population||63,960 (July 2002 est.)|
|Language||English (official), Portuguese|
|Religion||non-Anglican Protestant 39%, Anglican 27%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 19%|
Bermuda is a self-governing British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of North America, east of North Carolina.
- St. George
Bermuda consists of about 138 islands and islets, with all the major islands aligned on a hook-shaped but roughly east-west axis and connected together by road bridges. In terms of terrain, the islands comprise low hills separated by fertile depressions, and interspersed with a complex set of waterways.
The inhabited island chain actually comprises the southern sector of a circular atoll; the remainder of the atoll comprising submerged or inter-tidal reefs. As a result the northern shores of inhabited islands are relatively sheltered, whilst the southern shores are exposed to the ocean swell. Consequently most of the best beaches are on the southern shore.
As an island of the North Atlantic, Bermuda has a quite different climate to that of the Caribbean, with which it is sometimes erroneously linked. The best time to visit Bermuda is from Spring through to Autumn.
The islands have ample rainfall, but no rivers or freshwater lakes. As a result drinking water is collected on the roofs of all buildings (by law), and in special catchment areas. Bermuda has a mild, humid subtropical maritime climate though gales and strong winds are common in winter. The hurricane season is from June to November.
Bermuda was first settled in 1609 by shipwrecked English colonists headed for the infant British colony of Virginia. The first industry on the islands was growing of fruit and vegetables to supply the early American colonies. The islands took a carefully unofficial role during the American War of Independence, with much of Washington's armaments coming from a covert (and likely locally complicit) raid on the islands armoury. After US independence and during the Napoleonic wars, Great Britain found itself without access to the ports now on the US east coast. Because of this situation and Bermuda's convenient location between British Canada and Britain's Caribbean possessions, Bermuda became the principal stop over point for the British Royal Navy's Atlantic fleet, somewhat similar to Gibraltar.
The American Civil War and American Prohibition both added considerably to the island's coffers, with Bermuda forming an important focal point in running the blockades in both cases. During the second world war, a large US air base was built on the islands and remained operational until 1995, and the islands served as the main intercept center for transatlantic cable messages to and from occupied Europe.
Tourism to the island to escape North American winters first developed in Victorian times. Tourism continues to be important to the island's economy, although international business has overtaken it in recent years. Bermuda has developed into a highly successful offshore financial center. A referendum on independence was soundly defeated in 1995. For many, Bermudian independence would mean little other than the obligation to staff foreign missions and embassies around the world, which can be a strong obligation for Bermuda's small population.
One of Bermuda's few taxes is its steep import tax. The 22% tax applies to EVERYTHING that is brought onto the island. Each person is allowed a $100 exemption, but if a visitor is deemed to be carrying more than that amount he/she will be subject to the tax.
The only airport in Bermuda is Bermuda International Airport. There are daily flights from Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington, together with less frequent flights from other US and Canadian cities. The only flight from Europe is a flight from London which operates four times a week.
Arriving passengers will need to pass through immigration and customs, and non-residents must have a return or onward ticket. Importation of narcotics and weapons (including all forms of guns) is strictly prohibited, as are any live marine animals.
The airport is situated adjacent to Castle Harbor, between Baltimore, Boston, Bayonne, New York, Norfolk, and Philadelphia on the eastern seaboard of the United States.
The same immigration and customs rules apply as for arrival by air (above).
There are three different locations cruise ships may stop at in Bermuda, and some vessels visit more than one of these in a single cruise:
- Saint George. Cruise ships berth near the main square of the small town and historic former capital. Passengers can reach Hamilton and Flatts Village directly by bus, and other locations by changing in Hamilton.
- The Dockyard. This berth is situated in the historic naval dockyard complex at the extreme 'western' end of the island beyond Dining Out in Bermuda (http://www.dininginbermuda.com/diningframe.html)
Bermuda has two "national drinks":
- Rum Swizzle which is a rum cocktail made of Demerera Rum (amber rum) and Jamaican Rum (dark rum) along with an assortment of citrus juices. Note, it is quite strong. According to local lore, it was named after the Swizzle Inn where it was said to be devloped.
- Dark n' Stormy is a highball made up of a base of dark or amber rum, and mixed with Barritt's Ginger Beer.
Both drinks are compartively very sweet.
Accommodations in Bermuda are very expensive. There are many exclusive and four star accommodations such as:
- Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel
- Fairmont Southampton Hotel
- Ariel Sands Hotel
- The Elbow Beach Resort & Hotel
- The Wyndham Bermuda Hotel
- Cambridge Beaches Resort
- 9 Beaches Resort
- The Reef Hotel
There are also a wide variety of B&B style accommodations and smaller guestroom hotels (with kitchenettes) such as The Rosemont Hotel and the Oxford Guesthouse. Accommodation is roughly BMD $100 per night.
There are no cheap hotels or hostels in Bermuda.
Bermuda has one college - Bermuda College.