Bermuda (United Kingdom)
Bermuda Islands is located in the North Atlantic Great Western and covers an area of 53 square kilometers. Alongside more than 150 small islands and reefs and seven large islands, home to a population of about 65,000, of whom 61% are of African descent, with the other of European and North American descent. Residents are Christian, with English the official language. The currency is the Bermuda dollar and the capital is Hamilton.
The bedrock consists of a 60 m thick layer of coral limestone, which covers the rocky top of a submerged and extinguished volcano, which rises up to 5 000 m above the seabed. The archipelago is surrounded by coral reefs, which are the northernmost now living. The land surface has numerous heights and valleys (the highest point is 81 m above sea level) and is covered by a layer of fertile soil but lacks actual surface runoff.
The climate is subtropical, with high humidity and an average annual temperature of 21 °C and a rainfall of 1,400 mm per year.
The dry lime fields harbor a drought-adapted flora, while bermuda cedar (a one-species, Juniperus bermudiana ) forms populations on some islands. Mangrove forest is found along the coasts of the larger islands.
The wildlife is markedly poor as a result of the isolation of the archipelago. Only seven species of terrestrial birds breed there. On the smaller islands, there are also nesting areas. white-tailed tropical bird and the endangered Bermuda Monkey, which is endemic. Besides birds, an endemic ham is the only native vertebrate. In addition, another lizard and two species of frogs have been introduced.
The majority of the population (60 percent) is descended from black slaves, who were brought to Bermuda before the British in 1807 banned slave management. Britons and descendants of the Portuguese who immigrated from the Azores and Madeira during the mid-19th century make up the white population (40 percent). English is the majority language and official language, but Portuguese is also spoken.
There are more than 40 different faiths. 47 percent of the population belongs to the Anglican church community, 10 percent are Catholics. Under the influence of the Latin American Episcopal Conferences (CELAM), a Catholic renewal is underway. Ecumenical collaboration is found in the Caribbean Council of Churches between Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and Catholics. The work is concentrated on social issues and the fight against poverty and marginalization. In recent years, evangelical and charismatic groups have increased greatly.
Tourism is Bermuda’s main source of income, but the archipelago is also a financial center with many banks and insurance companies. Until 1995, the US naval and air bases were also of great importance to the economy, but they were closed in 1995.
Agriculture now also has little significance. There is extensive import of food but is self-sufficient in dairy products, vegetables and fruits. Citrus fruits and bananas are exported.
Bermuda is a British crown colony with significant autonomy. In accordance with the 1968 Constitution, the British Crown is represented by a governor, who is responsible for foreign relations, defense and police. The governor appoints the prime minister and, on his proposal, other ministers, who shall be members of Bermuda’s parliament.
Parliament has two chambers with five-year terms, one senate with 11 members appointed by the governor and one House of Representatives with 40 elected members. The two dominant parties are the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), which mainly organizes the non-white population, and the United Bermuda Party (UBP), which has a more mixed base.
Bermuda was discovered in the early 16th century by the Spanish Juan Bermúdez. The archipelago became the subject of English colonization in 1612, when the Virginia Company claimed Bermuda and sent English settlers there. Indian and African slaves began to be imported by the colonizers. Slavery ended in Bermuda in 1834 as well as in the other British colonies. From 1864, Bermuda was jointly managed by the Virginia Company and the British Crown.
Between 1797 and the late 1950s, the islands served as a military garrison and naval base. The British withdrew their garrison in 1957 and now have only a smaller facility for the fleet. Since 1941, the United States has been leasing two islands for 99 years, which are used as naval bases.
In connection with racial contradictions, social conflicts and political unrest in 1973, the governor was assassinated. The question of independence for Bermuda was raised in new unrest in 1977, but the contradictions have later subsided.