Geography and politics

British Virgin Islands – Geography & Political System

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a group of islands situated about sixty miles east of Puerto Rico and since 1672, they have been a dependent territory of the United Kingdom, with a democratic system of government.


The principal islands are Virgin Gorda and Tortola.

Located on Tortola, Road Town is the capital city and financial center of the BVI. The islands have a total population of about 22,000, of whom approximately 18,000 live on Tortola.

Political System

Executive authority is invested in The Queen and is exercised on her behalf by the Governor of the British Virgin Islands. The Governor is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British Government. Defense and Foreign Affairs remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom.

A new constitution was adopted in 2007 (the Virgin Islands Constitution Order, 2007) and came into force when the Legislative Council was dissolved for the 2007 general election. The Head of Government under the new constitution is the Premier (prior to the new constitution the office was referred to as Chief Minister), who is elected in a general election along with the other members of the ruling government as well as the members of the opposition.

An Executive Council is nominated by the Premier and appointed by the Governor. There is a unicameral Legislative Council made up of 13 seats. The current Governor is John Duncan (since 2014). The current Premier is Honourable Dr. Orlando Smith (since June 8, 2015).

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