Bermuda: Wikis

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Bermuda
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Quo Fata Ferunt"  (Latin)
"Whither the Fates Carry [Us]"
Anthem"God Save the Queen" (official)
"Hail to Bermuda" (unofficial)
Capital Hamilton
32°18′N 64°47′W / 32.3°N 64.783°W / 32.3; -64.783
Largest city Hamilton
Official language(s) English1
Other language Portuguese1
Ethnic groups  54.8% black
34.1% white
6.4% multiracial
4.3% other
0.4% unspecified[1]
Demonym Bermudian
Government British overseas territories
 -  Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
 -  Governor Sir Richard Gozney
 -  Premier Ewart Brown
Area
 -  Total 53.2 km2 (224th)
20.6 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 26%
Population
 -  2009 estimate 67,837[1] (202th)
 -  2000 census 62,059 
 -  Density 1,275/km2 (7th)
3,293/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2007[2] estimate
 -  Total $5.85 billion[2] (149th)
 -  Per capita $91,477[2] (1st)
HDI (2003) n/a (n/a) (n/a)
Currency Bermudian dollar2 (BMD)
Time zone Atlantic (UTC-4)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .bm
Calling code +1-441
1 According to CIA World Factbook.
2 On par with US dollar.

Bermuda (pronounced /bɜrˈmjuːdə/; officially, the Bermuda Islands or the Somers Isles) is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about 1,030 kilometres (640 mi) to the west-northwest. It is about 1,350 km (840 mi) south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and 1,770 km (1,100 mi) northeast of Miami, Florida. Its capital city is Hamilton.

Bermuda is the oldest and most populous remaining British overseas territory, settled by England a century before the Acts of Union created the Kingdom of Great Britain. Bermuda's first capital, St George's, was settled in 1612 and is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the Americas.[3]

Bermuda has a very affluent economy, with finance as its largest sector followed by tourism,[3] giving it the world's highest GDP per capita in 2005. It has a subtropical climate.[4]

Contents

Aerial view of north east Bermuda, showing St David's Island and St George's Island surrounding St George's Harbour in the foreground. Beyond are Bermuda International Airport and Castle Harbour.

History

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Pre-settlement

Bermuda was officially discovered in 1503 by a Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermúdez.[5] It is mentioned in Legatio Babylonica, published in 1511 by Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, and was also included on Spanish charts of that year. Both Spanish and Portuguese ships used the islands as a replenishment spot for fresh meat and water, but legends of spirits and devils, now thought to have stemmed only from the callings of raucous birds (most likely the Bermuda Petrel, or Cahow), also the loud noise heard at night from wild hogs and of perpetual, storm-wracked conditions (most early visitors arrived under such conditions) and a surrounding ring of treacherous reefs kept them from attempting any permanent settlement on the Isle of Devils.

Bermúdez and Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo ventured to Bermuda in 1515 with the intention of leaving a breeding stock of hogs on the island as a future stock of fresh meat for passing ships. However, the inclement weather prevented them from landing.

Some years later, a Portuguese ship on the way home from Santo Domingo wedged itself between two rocks on the reef. The crew tried to salvage as much as they could and spent the next four months building a new hull from Bermuda cedar to return to their initial departure point.

Settlement by the English

John Smith wrote one of the first Histories of Bermuda (in concert with Virginia and New England).

For the next century, the island is believed to have been visited frequently but not permanently settled. The first two English colonies in Virginia had failed, and a more determined effort was initiated by King James I of England (James VI of Scotland), who granted a Royal Charter to the Virginia Company. In 1609, a flotilla of ships left England under the Company's Admiral, Sir George Somers, to relieve the colony of Jamestown, settled two years before. Somers had previous experience sailing with both Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. The flotilla was broken up by a storm, and the flagship, the Sea Venture, was wrecked off Bermuda (as depicted on the territory's coat of arms), leaving the survivors in possession of a new territory. (William Shakespeare's play The Tempest is thought to have been inspired by William Strachey's account of this shipwreck.) The island was claimed for the English Crown, and the charter of the Virginia Company was extended to include it. St George's was settled in 1612 and made Bermuda's first capital. It is the oldest continually inhabited English town in the New World.[3]

In 1615, the colony was passed to a new company, the Somers Isles Company (The Somers Isles remains an official name for the colony), formed by the same shareholders. The close ties with Virginia were commemorated even after Bermuda's separation by reference to the archipelago in many Virginian place names, such as Bermuda City, and Bermuda Hundred. The first British coins in America were struck here.

Most of the survivors of the Sea Venture had carried on to Jamestown in 1610 aboard two Bermuda-built ships. Among them was John Rolfe, who left a wife and child buried in Bermuda, but in Jamestown would marry Pocahontas, a daughter of Powhatan. Intentional settlement of Bermuda began with the arrival of the Plough, in 1612.

Company colony

Because of its limited land area, Bermuda has had difficulty with over-population. In the first two centuries of settlement it relied on steady human emigration to keep the population manageable. It is often claimed that, before the American Revolution more than ten thousand Bermudians (over half of the population) emigrated, primarily to the American South, where Great Britain was displacing Spain as the dominant European imperial power. A steady trickle of outward migration continued. With seafaring being the only real industry, by the end of the 18th century at least a third of the island's manpower was at sea at any one time.

The archipelago's limited land area and resources led to the creation of what may be the earliest conservation laws of the New World. In 1616 and 1620 acts were passed banning the hunting of certain birds and young tortoises[6]

In 1649, the English Civil War raged and King Charles I was beheaded in Whitehall, London. The execution resulted in the outbreak of a Bermudian civil war; it was ended by embodied militias. This created a strong sense of devotion to the crown for the majority of colonists and it forced those who would not swear allegiance, such as Puritans and independents, into exile in the Bahamas.[7]

Bermuda Gazette of 12 November 1796, calling for privateering against Spain and its allies, and with advertisements for crew for two privateer vessels.

In the 17th century the Somers Isles Company suppressed shipbuilding, as it needed Bermudians to farm in order to generate income from the land. Agricultural production met with only limited success, however. The Bermuda cedar boxes used to ship tobacco to England were reportedly worth more than their contents.[citation needed] The colony of Virginia far surpassed Bermuda in both quality and quantity of tobacco produced. Bermudians began to turn to maritime trades relatively early in the 17th century, but the Somers Isles Company used all its authority to suppress turning away from agriculture. This interference led to the islanders demanding, and receiving, the revocation of the Company's charter in 1684; the Company itself being dissolved.

Maritime economy

After the dissolution of the Somers Isle Company, Bermudians rapidly abandoned agriculture for shipbuilding, replanting farmland with the native juniper (Juniperus bermudiana, also called Bermuda cedar) trees that grew thickly over the whole island. Establishing effective control over the Turks Islands, Bermudians deforested their landscape to begin the salt trade that would become the world's largest, and remained the cornerstone of Bermuda's economy for the next century. Bermudian sailors would turn their hands to far more trades than supplying salt, however. Whaling, privateering, and the merchant trade were all pursued vigorously. Vessels would sail the normal shipping routes, but had to engage an enemy vessel no matter the size or strength, and as a result many ships were destroyed. The Bermuda sloop became highly regarded for its speed and manoeuvrability. In fact, it was the Bermuda sloop HMS Pickle, one of the fastest vessels in the Royal Navy, that brought the news of the victory at Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Nelson back to England.

Fortress Bermuda

After the American Revolution, the Royal Navy began improving the harbours and built the large dockyard on Ireland Island, in the west of the chain, as its principal naval base guarding the western Atlantic Ocean shipping lanes. During the American War of 1812, the British attacks on Washington, D.C. and the Chesapeake, that would result in the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner, were planned and launched from Bermuda, the Royal Navy's 'North American Station'.

The First Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps Contingent, raised in 1914. By the war's end, the two Bermuda contingents had lost over 75% of their combined strength.

It was here that the British soldiers assembled before being sent to attack Baltimore and Washington. In 1816, James Arnold, the son of famed U.S. traitor Benedict Arnold, fortified Bermuda's Royal Naval Dockyard against possible U.S. attacks.[8] Today, the "Maritime Museum" occupies the Keep of the Royal Naval Dockyard, including the Commissioner's House, and exhibits artifacts of the base's military history.

As a result of Bermuda's proximity to the southeastern U.S. coast, it was regularly used by Confederate States blockade runners during the American Civil War to evade Union naval vessels and bring desperately needed war goods to the South from England. The old Globe Hotel in St George's, which was a centre of intrigue for Confederate agents, is preserved as a museum open to the public.

Economic and political development

Bermuda mid-1920s

In the early 20th century, as modern transport and communication systems developed, Bermuda became a popular destination for wealthy American, Canadian and British tourists arriving by frequent steamship service. In addition, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act enacted by the United States against its trading partners in 1930, cut off Bermuda's once-thriving agricultural export trade (primarily lilies and fresh vegetables to the U.S.), spurring the overseas territory to develop its tourist industry. In the late 1930s, Imperial Airways and Pan American World Airways began operating scheduled flying-boat airline services from New York and Baltimore to Darrell's Island, Bermuda. In 1948, regularly scheduled commercial airline service by land-based airplanes began to Kindley Field (now Bermuda International Airport), helping tourism to reach its peak in the 1960s–1970s. By the end of the 20th century, international business had supplanted tourism as the dominant sector of Bermuda's economy (see "Economy", below).

The Royal Naval Dockyard and the attendant military garrison continued to be an important component of Bermuda's economy until the mid-20th century. In addition to considerable building work, the armed forces needed to source food and other materials from local vendors. Beginning in World War II, U.S. military installations also were located in Bermuda (see "Military" section, below, and Military of Bermuda).

Universal adult suffrage and the development of a two-party political system occurred in the 1960s. Before universal suffrage, adopted as part of Bermuda's Constitution in 1967, voting was based on property ownership (see "Politics" section, below, and Politics of Bermuda). On March 10, 1973, then-Governor of Bermuda Richard Sharples was assassinated by local Black Power militants during a period of civil unrest in the 1970s.

Geography

Topographic map of Bermuda

Bermuda is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, near the western edge of the Sargasso Sea, roughly 580 nautical miles (1070 km, 670 mi) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and roughly 590 nautical miles (1100 km, 690 mi) southeast of Martha's Vineyard. The island lies due east of Fripp Island, South Carolina. It has 103 km (64 mi) of coastline. There are two incorporated municipalities in Bermuda: the City of Hamilton and the Town of St George. Bermuda is divided into various "parishes," in which there are some localities called "villages," such as Flatts Village, Tucker's Town and Somerset Village.

Although usually referred to in the singular, the territory consists of approximately 138 islands, with a total area of 53.3 square kilometres (20.6 sq mi). The largest island, Main Island, is sometimes itself called Bermuda. Compiling a list of the islands is often complicated, as many have more than one name (as does the entire archipelago, which has also been known historically as La Garza, Virgineola, and the Isle of Devils). Despite its small land mass, there has been a tendency for place names to be repeated; there are, for example, two islands named Long Island, and St George's Town is located on St George's Island within St George's Parish (each known as St George's).

Climate

Although Bermuda's latitude is similar to that of Savannah, Georgia, it is warmer in winter, and slightly cooler in summer. Its humid subtropical climate[4][9] is warmed by the nearby Gulf Stream, thanks to the westerlies, which carry warm, humid air eastwards over Bermuda, helping to keep winter temperatures above freezing. The climate is humid and, as a result, the summertime heat index can be high, even though mid-August temperatures rarely exceed 30 °C (86 °F). Winters are mild, with average daytime temperatures in January and February around 20 °C (68 °F), although cold fronts, which dominate the local weather for most of the year, bring Arctic air masses that can result in rapid temperature drops. Atlantic winter storms, often associated with these cold fronts, can produce powerful, gusting winds and heavy rain. Factoring in the wind chill, the felt air temperature in winter can fall below freezing, 0 °C (32 °F), even though the actual temperature rarely drops below 10 °C (50 °F). The lowest recorded temperature in Bermuda as of 2003 is 7.2 °C (45 °F).[10]

Bermuda is very susceptible to hurricanes. Its position along the Gulf Stream means that it is often directly in the path of hurricanes recurving in the westerlies, although they have usually begun to weaken as they approach the island. It is often affected by these hurricanes, although the island's small size means that direct landfalls are rare. The last hurricane to cause significant damage to the islands was category 3 Hurricane Fabian on September 5, 2003. Its eastern eyewall hit the territory and four people were killed.

The only source of fresh water in Bermuda is rainfall, which is collected on roofs and catchments (or drawn from underground lenses) and stored in tanks. Each dwelling usually has at least one of these tanks forming part of its foundation.

Climate data for Hamilton - capital of Bermuda
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 20
(68)
20
(68)
20
(68)
21
(70)
23
(73)
27
(81)
29
(84)
30
(86)
28
(82)
26
(79)
23
(73)
21
(70)
24
(75)
Daily mean °C (°F) 18
(64)
17
(63)
18
(64)
19
(66)
22
(72)
25
(77)
27
(81)
27
(81)
26
(79)
24
(75)
21
(70)
19
(66)
22
(72)
Average low °C (°F) 16
(61)
15
(59)
15
(59)
17
(63)
20
(68)
22
(72)
25
(77)
25
(77)
24
(75)
22
(72)
19
(66)
17
(63)
20
(68)
Precipitation mm (inches) 120
(4.72)
110
(4.33)
100
(3.94)
80
(3.15)
70
(2.76)
120
(4.72)
110
(4.33)
120
(4.72)
120
(4.72)
160
(6.3)
100
(3.94)
110
(4.33)
1,400
(55.12)
Source: Weatherbase[11]

Politics

Executive authority in Bermuda is vested in the monarch and is exercised on her behalf by the Governor. The governor is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British Government. The current governor is Sir Richard Hugh Turton Gozney KCMG; he was sworn in on December 12, 2007.[12] There is also a Deputy Governor (currently Mark Andrew Capes JP).[13] Defence and foreign affairs remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom, which also retains responsibility to ensure good government. It must approve any changes to the Constitution of Bermuda. Bermuda now exists as an overseas territory of Britain, but it is the oldest British colony. In 1620, a Royal Assent granted Bermuda limited self-governance, thus making the Parliament of Bermuda the fifth oldest in the world, behind only the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Tynwald of the Isle of Man, the Althing of Iceland and Sejm of the Republic of Poland.[14] Of these, it is the only one to have met continuously as a legislature since its inception through to today.

The State House, the home of Bermuda's parliament 1620–1815

The Constitution of Bermuda came into force on June 1, 1967 and was amended in 1989 and 2003. The head of government is the premier. A cabinet is nominated by the premier and appointed officially by the governor. The legislative branch consists of a bicameral parliament modelled on the Westminster system. The Senate is the upper house consisting of eleven members appointed by the governor on the advice of the premier and the leader of the opposition. The House of Assembly, or lower house, has thirty-six members elected by the eligible voting populace in secret ballot to represent geographically defined constituencies. Elections must be called at no more than five-year intervals. The Progressive Labour Party won the most recent general election held on December 18, 2007, winning 22 of 36 seats in the House of Assembly.[15]

Following his victory over former Premier Alex Scott at the Progressive Labour Party delegates' conference in October 2006, the current premier is Ewart Brown. The United Bermuda Party serves in opposition. The Progressive Labour Party leadership favours independence from the United Kingdom, although polls have indicated that this is not supported by the population. While a referendum in 1995 on independence was defeated by a substantial margin, the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Progressive Labour Party (then in the Opposition) had called for a boycott of the referendum, having an unquantified impact on the result.

There are few accredited diplomats in Bermuda. The United States maintains the largest diplomatic mission in Bermuda, comprising both the United States Consulate and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services at the Bermuda International Airport. The current U.S. Consul General is Grace Shelton, who replaced Gregory W. Slayton as the U.S. Chief of Mission in Bermuda in August 2009. Given that the United States is by far Bermuda's largest trading partner (providing over 71% of total imports, 85% of tourist visitors, and an estimated $163 billion of U.S. capital in the Bermuda insurance/re-insurance industry alone, and the fact that an estimated 5% of Bermuda residents are U.S. citizens, which represents 14% of all foreign-born persons), American diplomatic presence is seen as an important element in the Bermuda political landscape.

A General Election must be held in Bermuda every five years. Following the PLP's re-election in 2007, the next election must be held no later than 2012.

Parishes and municipalities

Parishes of Bermuda

Bermuda is divided into nine parishes and two municipalities.

Bermuda's nine parishes:

Bermuda's two incorporated municipalities:

Bermuda's two informal villages:

Another informal village was razed in the 20th Century, though the name is still used for the area.

Armed forces

Remembrance Day Parade, Hamilton, Bermuda

Once known as the Gibraltar of the West, the defence of Bermuda remains the responsibility of the British government. Until the American Revolutionary War, following which Bermuda became the Royal Navy's Western Atlantic headquarters, the Bermuda government had maintained militia for the defence of the colony. Once the Royal Navy established a base and dockyard defended by regular soldiers, however, these militias became superfluous and were disbanded following the War of 1812. At the end of the 19th century, the colony did raise volunteer units to form a reserve for the military garrison.

Due to its strategic location in the North Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda was vital to the Allies' war effort during both world wars of the 20th century, serving as a marshalling point for trans-Atlantic convoys, as well as a naval and air base (during the Second World War).

In May 1940, the U.S. requested base rights in Bermuda from the United Kingdom, but British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was initially unwilling to accede to the American request without getting something in return.[16] In September, 1940, as part of the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, the United Kingdom granted the U.S. base rights in Bermuda. Bermuda and Newfoundland were not originally included in the agreement, but both were added to it, with no war material received in exchange. However, one of the terms of the agreement was that the airfield the U.S. Army was to build in Bermuda would be used jointly by the U.S. and the U.K. (which it was for the duration of the war, with RAF Transport Command relocating there from Darrell's Island in 1943). Construction began in 1941 of two airbases consisting of 5.8 km² (2¼ sq mi, 1,400 acres) of land, largely reclaimed from the sea. For many years, Bermuda's bases were used by U.S. Air Force transport and refueling aircraft and by U.S. Navy aircraft patrolling the Atlantic for enemy submarines, first German and, later, Soviet. The principal installation, Kindley Air Force Base on the eastern coast, was transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1970 and redesignated Naval Air Station Bermuda. As a naval air station, the base continued to host both transient and deployed USN and USAF aircraft, as well as transitioning or deployed Royal Air Force and Canadian Forces aircraft,

The original NAS Bermuda on the west side of the island, a seaplane base until the mid-1960s, became the Naval Air Station Bermuda Annex and provided optional anchorage and/or dockage facilities for transiting U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and NATO vessels, depending on size.. An additional U.S. Navy compound known as Naval Facility Bermuda (NAVFAC Bermuda), a SOSUS station, was located to the west of the Annex near a Canadian Forces communications facility. Although leased for 99 years, U.S. forces withdrew in 1995, as part of the wave of base closures following the end of the Cold War.

Canada, which had operated a war-time naval base, HMCS Somers Isles, on the old Royal Navy base at Convict Bay, St George's, also established a radio-listening post at Daniel's Head, in the West End of the islands during this time.

In the 1950s, after the end of World War II, the Royal Naval dockyard and the military garrison were closed. A small Royal Navy supply base, HMS Malabar, continued to operate within the dockyard area, supporting transiting Royal Navy ships and submarines until it, too, was closed in 1995, along with the American and Canadian bases.

In both World War I and World War II, Bermudians served in the British armed forces. Amongst the latter was Major-General Glyn Charles Anglim Gilbert, Bermuda's highest ranking soldier. After the war, he was instrumental in developing the Bermuda Regiment. A number of other Bermudians and children of Bermudians had preceded him into senior ranks, including Bahamian-born Admiral Lord Gambier, and Bermudian-born Royal Marines Brigadier Harvey, who, when promoted to that rank at age 39, following his wounding at the Anzio landings, became the youngest-ever Royal Marine Brigadier. The Cenotaph in front of the Cabinet Building (in Hamilton) was erected in tribute to Bermuda's Great War dead (the tribute was later extended to Bermuda's Second World War dead) and is the site of the annual Remembrance Day commemoration.

Today, the only military unit remaining in Bermuda is the Bermuda Regiment, an amalgam of the voluntary units originally formed toward the end of the 19th century. Although the Regiment's predecessors were voluntary units, the modern body is formed primarily by conscription in which balloted males are required to serve for three years, two months part time, once they turn eighteen.

Role in international relations

As an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, Bermuda has no seat in the United Nations and is represented by the UK in foreign affairs. Bermuda's close proximity to the United States has made it the site of past summit conferences between British Prime Ministers and U.S. Presidents. The first summit was held in December, 1953, at the insistence of Prime Minister Winston Churchill to discuss relations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Participants at the conference included Churchill, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and French Premier Joseph Laniel. In 1957, a second summit conference was held, this time Harold Macmillan was the British Prime Minister and he arrived earlier than President Eisenhower to make it clear that they were meeting on British territory, as tensions were still high regarding the conflict over the Suez Canal in the previous year. It was said the two discussed the general situation of the world. Macmillan would return in 1961 for the third summit with President John F. Kennedy, who was familiar with Bermuda having made numerous personal visits. The meeting was called to discuss the Cold War tensions arising from construction of the Berlin Wall. The most recent summit conference in Bermuda between the two powers occurred in 1971, when British Prime Minister Edward Heath met U.S. President Richard Nixon.[17]

Direct meetings between the President of the United States and the Premier of Bermuda have been rare. The most recent meeting was held on June 23, 2008, between Premier Ewart Brown and President George W. Bush. Prior to this, the leaders of Bermuda and the United States had not met at the White House since a 1996 meeting between Premier David Saul and President Bill Clinton.[18]

Asylum offered to four former Guantánamo detainees

On June 11, 2009, four Uyghurs who had been held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantánamo Bay detention camp, in Cuba were deported to Bermuda.[19][20][21][22] The four men were among 22 Uyghurs who claimed to be refugees, who were captured in 2001 in Pakistan after fleeing the American aerial bombardment of Afghanistan. They were suspected of training to assist Taliban's military. They were cleared as safe for release from Guantánamo in 2005 or 2006. But U.S. domestic law prohibited deporting them back to China, their country of citizenship, because it was deemed by the U.S. government that China was likely to abuse their human rights.

In September 2008 the men were cleared of all suspicion, and Judge Ricardo Urbina in Washington ordered their release. However domestic opposition to their admittance to the United States was very strong, and, until Bermuda and Palau agreed to accept them in June 2009, the U.S. had failed to find a home for them.

The secret bilateral discussions leading to the transfer of prisoners between the U.S. and the devolved Bermuda government sparked diplomatic ire from the government of the United Kingdom, which was not consulted on the move despite Bermuda being a British territory. The British Foreign Office issued the following statement: "We've underlined to the Bermuda Government that they should have consulted with the United Kingdom as to whether this falls within their competence or is a security issue, for which the Bermuda Government do not have delegated responsibility. We have made clear to the Bermuda Government the need for a security assessment, which we are now helping them to carry out, and we will decide on further steps as appropriate."

Economy

Coins circulating in 2006

Since switching from the Bermudian pound in 1970, Bermuda's currency has been the Bermudian dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar. US notes and coins are used interchangeably with Bermudian notes and coins within the islands for most practical purposes; however, banks levy a small exchange rate for the purchase of US dollars with Bermudian dollars.[23] Bermudian notes carry the image of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The Bermuda Monetary Authority is the issuing authority for all banknotes and coins, as well as being responsible for the regulation of financial institutions. There is a permanent exhibition of Bermuda notes and coins at the Royal Naval Dockyard Museum.

Bermuda's per capita income is approximately 50% higher than that of the United States; according to the Bermuda Government's Economic Statistics Division, Bermuda's GDP was $5.85 billion in 2007, or $91,477 per-capita, giving Bermuda the highest GDP per capita in the world.[2]

The affordability of housing has become a prominent issue over the past few years. The CIA World Factbook lists the average cost of a house in June 2003 as $976,000,[1] while real estate agencies have claimed that this figure had risen to $1.6 million by 2006,[24] and to $1.845 million by early 2007,[25] though such high figures have been disputed.[26]

Bermuda is an offshore financial centre, which results from its low direct taxation on personal or corporate income. The local tax system is based upon import duties, payroll taxes and consumption taxes. The legal system is derived from that of the United Kingdom, with recourse to English courts of final appeal.

As the offshore domicile of many foreign companies, Bermuda has a highly developed international business economy; it is a financial exporter of financial services, primarily insurance, reinsurance, investment funds and special purpose vehicles (SPV). Finance and international business now constitute the largest sector of Bermuda's economy.[3] However in September 2009, it was reported that a growing number of companies were moving from Bermuda to Ireland as part of a search for "a more stable environment".[27]

Hamilton

Large numbers of leading international insurance companies are based in Bermuda making the territory one of the world's largest reinsurance centres.[28] Those internationally owned and operated businesses that are physically based in Bermuda—of which there are around four hundred—are represented by the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC). In total, over 1,500 exempted or international companies are currently registered with the Registrar of Companies in Bermuda.

Thanks to its favourable tax regime and a highly reactive regulatory framework Bermuda is the domicile of choice for the implementation of insurance-related innovative solutions also known as Alternative Risk Transfer (ART). ART includes captive insurances, Finite Risk insurance and insurance securitisation such as Cat bonds.

The Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX), established in 1971, is now the world's largest fully electronic offshore securities market, with a current market capitalisation (excluding mutual funds) in excess of US$330 billion[citation needed]. There are four hundred securities listed on the stock exchange, of which almost three hundred are offshore funds and alternative investment structures attracted by Bermuda's regulatory environment. The Exchange specialises in listing and trading of capital market instruments such as equities, debt issues, funds (including hedge fund structures) and depository receipt programmes.

The BSX is a full member of the World Federation of Exchanges and is located in an OECD member nation. It also has Approved Stock Exchange status under Australia's Foreign Investment Fund (FIF) taxation rules and Designated Investment Exchange status by the UK's Financial Services Authority.

Tourism is Bermuda's second largest industry, with the island attracting over one-half million visitors annually, of whom more than 80% are from the United States. Other significant sources of visitors are from Canada and the United Kingdom. Tourists arrive either by cruise ship or by air at Bermuda International Airport, the only airport on the island.[29]

Education

The Bermuda Education Act 1996 requires that only three categories of schools can operate in the Bermuda Education system:

  • aided school, has all or a part of its property vested in a body of trustees or board of governors and is partially maintained by public funding or, since 1965 and the desegregation of schools, has received a grant-in-aid out of public funds.
  • maintained school, has the whole of its property belonging to the Government and is fully maintained by public funds.
  • private school, not maintained by public funds and has not, since 1965 and the desegregation of schools, received any capital grant-in-aid out of public funds. The private school sector consists of 6 traditional private schools, two of which are religious schools, and the remaining four are secular with one of these being a single gender school and another a Montessori school. Also, within the private sector there are a number of home schools which must be registered with the government and receive minimal government regulation. The only boys’ school opened its doors to girls in the 1990s and in 1996, one of the maintained public schools became a private school.

Prior to 1965, the Bermuda school system was racially segregated and when the desegregation of schools was enacted in 1965, two of the formally maintained "white" schools and both single gender schools opted to become private schools. The rest became part of the public school system and were either aided or maintained.

At present there are 26 schools in the Bermuda Public School System, eighteen of which are primary schools, five are middle schools, two senior schools and one special school. There is also an Alternative Programme provided for students with behavioural challenges who cannot function in the public mainstream. There are two aided primary schools, two aided middle schools and one aided senior school.

For higher education, the Bermuda College offers various associate degrees and other certificate programmes.[30] Bermuda does not have any four-year colleges or universities.

In May 2009, Bermudian Government's application was approved to become a contributory member of the University of the West Indies (UWI). Bermuda's membership is slated to allow Bermudian students to enter the University at an agreed upon subsidized rate possibly as early as the 2009/2010 school year. UWI also agrees that their Open Campus (online degree courses) would become open to Bermudian students in future with Bermuda becoming the 13th country to have access to the Open Campus.[31][32]

Sightseeing and attractions

One of Bermuda's pink sand beaches, at Astwood Park

Bermuda's pink sand beaches and clear, cerulean blue ocean waters are popular with tourists and many of Bermuda's hotels are located along the south shore of the island. In addition to its beaches, there are a number of sightseeing attractions. Historic St George's is a designated World Heritage Site. Scuba divers can explore numerous wrecks and coral reefs in relatively shallow water (typically 30–40 ft/9–12 m in depth) with virtually unlimited visibility. Many nearby reefs are readily accessible from shore by snorkellers, especially at Church Bay.

Bermuda's most popular visitor attraction is the Royal Naval Dockyard, which includes the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Other attractions include the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo,[33] Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, the Botanical Gardens, lighthouses, and the Crystal Caves with its impressive stalactites and underground saltwater pools.

It is not possible to rent a car on the island; however, visitors can hire scooters for use as private transport, or use public transport.

Arts and culture

Bermuda's culture is a mixture of the various sources of its population, though little trace remains of the various Native American, Spanish-Caribbean, African, Irish or Scots cultures that would have been evident in the 17th century, with Anglo-Saxon culture becoming dominant. Today, the only language other than English that is spoken by any substantial part of the population is actually Portuguese, following one hundred and sixty years of immigration from Portuguese Atlantic islands (primarily the Azores, though also from Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands). There are strong British influences, together with Afro-Caribbean. A second wave of immigration from the West Indies has been sustained throughout the 20th century, although, unlike the Africans who immigrated to that area as indentured servants (or who were imported as slaves) in the 17th century, the more recent arrivals have mostly come from English speaking countries (albeit, most of the West Indian islands whose populations now speak English were then part of the Spanish Empire). This new infusion of West Indians has both accelerated social and political change, and diversified Bermuda's culture. West Indian musicians introduced Calypso music when Bermuda's tourist industry was expanded with the increase of visitors brought by post Second World War aviation. While Calypso music appealed more to the visitors than to the locals, Reggae has been embraced since the 1970s with the influx of Jamaican immigration.

Gombey dancers in Bermuda

Bermuda's literary history was largely limited to non-Bermudian writers commenting on the island. In the 20th century, a large number of books were written and published locally, though few were aimed at a wider market than Bermuda (most of these being scholarly reference books, rather than creative writing). One Bermudian novelist, Brian Burland, has achieved a degree of success and acclaim internationally, although the first (and undoubtedly the most important, historically) notable book credited to a Bermudian was the History of Mary Prince, a slave narrative by a Bermudian woman, Mary Prince, which helped to end slavery in the British Empire. Bermuda's proximity to the United States means that many aspects of US culture are reflected or incorporated into Bermudian culture. Many non-Bermudian writers have also made Bermuda their home, or have had homes here, including A.J. Cronin and F. Van Wyck Mason, who wrote on Bermudian subjects.

Dance and music are important in Bermuda. The dances of the colourful Gombey Dancers, seen at many events, were influenced by imported Native American and African slaves.

Bermuda has produced, or been home, to actors (such as Earl Cameron, Diana Dill, and most famously, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones). Noted musicians have included local icons The Talbot Brothers, who performed for many decades in both Bermuda and The United States (and appearing on Ed Sullivan's televised variety show), jazz pianist Lance Hayward, pop singer Heather Nova and more recently dancehall artist Collie Buddz. In 1979, Gina Swainson was crowned "Miss World".

Every year Bermuda hosts an international film festival, which shows many independent films. One of the festival's founders is film producer and director Arthur Rankin, Jr., co-founder of the Rankin/Bass production company.[34]

Bermuda water colours painted by local artists are sold at various galleries and elaborately hand-carved cedar sculptures are another specialty. One such 7 ft (2.1 m) sculpture created by Bermudian artisan Chesley Trott is on display at the airport's baggage claim area. Local artwork may also be viewed at several galleries around the island. Alfred Birdsey was one of the more famous and talented water colourists, his impressionistic landscapes of Hamilton, St George's and the surrounding sailboats, homes, and bays of Bermuda are world-renowned.

Every Easter, Bermudians of all ages build kites, usually of a traditional Bermudian type, which are flown to symbolise Christ's ascent. A Bermudian kite is made to geometric designs, quite colourful, and is an art form as much as a recreational tool. Despite this, Bermudian kites are very airworthy, holding world records for altitude and duration of flight.[citation needed]

Sports

Bermuda's 2004 Olympic team attired in Bermuda shorts at the opening ceremonies, as televised by NBC

Sport is a popular pastime in Bermuda, especially cricket, football, sailing, golf and rugby union.

Bermuda's national cricket team participated in the Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies. Their most famous player is a 130 kg (290 lbs, 20½ stone) police officer named Dwayne Leverock. Bermuda's team holds the world record for conceding the highest number of runs ever in the history of the World Cup. They conceded 413 runs in a 50 overs, one-day international, game against India. Also very well known is David Hemp, who is the current Glamorgan captain in English first class cricket. The annual "Cup Match" cricket tournament between rival parishes St George's in the east and Somerset in the west is the occasion for a popular national holiday.

Bermuda has the world's highest acreage of golf courses as a percentage of its total landmass. In 2007 Bermuda hosted the 25th PGA Grand Slam of Golf. This 36-hole event was held on October 16–17, 2007, at the Mid Ocean Club in Tucker's Town. This season ending tournament is between only four golfers - the winners of the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. The event returned to Bermuda again in 2008 and 2009.

An IOD racer on a mooring in Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda

The Government announced in 2006 that it will provide substantial financial support to Bermuda's cricket and football teams. Bermuda's most prominent footballers include Clyde Best and Shaun Goater. In 2006, the Bermuda Hogges were formed as the nation's first professional football team in order to raise the standard of play for the Bermuda national football team. The team plays in the United Soccer Leagues Second Division.

Sailing, fishing, and equestrian sports are popular with both residents and visitors alike. The prestigious Newport–Bermuda Yacht Race is a more than 100-year old tradition. In 2007, the 16th biennial Marion-Bermuda yacht race occurred. A sport unique to Bermuda is racing the Bermuda Fitted Dinghy. International One Design racing also originated in Bermuda.[35]

At the 2004 Summer Olympics, Bermuda competed in sailing, athletics, swimming, diving, triathlon and equestrian events. In those Olympics, Bermuda's Katura Horton-Perinchief made history by becoming the first black female diver to compete in the Olympic Games. Bermuda has had one Olympic medallist, Clarence Hill, who won a bronze medal in boxing. Bermuda also recently competed in Men's Skeleton (head first luge) at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Patrick Singleton placed 19th, with a final time of 1:59.81. Bermuda also competes in the biennial Island Games, which it will host in 2013.

Demographics

A July 2005 estimate put Bermuda's population at 65,365. The ethnic makeup of Bermuda is 54.8% black, 34.1% white, and 6.4% multiracial. The islands have a small but growing Asian community. A significant segment of the population is also of Portuguese ancestry (10%), the result of immigration from Portuguese-held islands (especially the Azores) during the past 160 years.[36]

Some islanders, especially in St David's, trace their ancestry to Native Americans. Hundreds were shipped to Bermuda, possibly from as far as Mexico. The best known examples were the Algonquian peoples who were exiled from the New England colonies and sold into slavery in the 17th century, notably in the aftermaths of the Pequot War, and King Philip's War.

Several thousand expatriate workers, principally from the UK, Canada, the West Indies, South Africa and the U.S., also reside in Bermuda, primarily engaged in specialised professions such as accounting, finance, and insurance. Others are employed in various trades, such as hotels, restaurants, construction, and landscaping services. Of the total workforce of 38,947 persons in 2005, government employment figures state that 11,223 (29 percent) are non-Bermudians.[37]

Fauna

The only indigenous mammals of Bermuda are five species of bats, all of which also occur in the eastern United States—Lasionycteris noctivagans, Lasiurus borealis, Lasiurus cinereus, Lasiurus seminolus, and Perimyotis subflavus.[38]

Holidays

Date Holiday
1 January New Year's Day
Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday Good Friday Bermudians fly home-made kites to celebrate Easter
24 May Bermuda Day Originally celebrated Queen Victoria's birthday as Empire Day; later changed to "Bermuda Day" to provide an official opportunity to celebrate the islands' heritage and culture. [39]
Second Monday in June National Heroes' Day
Thursday before the First Monday in August Emancipation Day First day of Cup match
Friday before the First Monday in August Somer's Day Second day of Cup match
First Monday in September Labour Day
11 November Remembrance Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Central Intelligence Agency (2009). "Bermuda". The World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bd.html. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d Bermuda leads in GDP per capita, The Royal Gazette, 07/12/08
  3. ^ a b c d "Bermuda - History and Heritage". Smithsonian.com. November 6, 2007. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/destination-hunter/bermuda-history-heritage.html. Retrieved December 3, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Forbes, Keith. "Bermuda Climate and Weather". The Royal Gazette. http://www.bermuda-online.org/climateweather.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  5. ^ "Bermuda". U.S. State Department. May, 2008. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5375.htm. Retrieved December 3, 2008. 
  6. ^ Meggs, Martin - Planner (Information Systems, Department of Planning - "Developing a small Island GIS: the Bermuda Experience," Bermuda.
  7. ^ Forbes, Keith: "About Bermuda Online", The Royal Gazette Ltd. Accessed September 22, 2007
  8. ^ Howes, James: "Attack on Baltimore Launched from Bermuda in 'War of 1812'" 2005
  9. ^ Ritter, Michael E. (2006). "The Physical Environment: an Introduction to Physical Geography". University of Wisconsin–Madison. http://www.uwsp.edu/geo/faculty/ritter/geog101/textbook/climate_systems/humid_subtropical.html. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  10. ^ "Weather Summary for January 2003". Bermuda Weather Service. 4 February 2003. http://www.weather.bm/data/2003-01.html. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  11. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Hamilton". http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weatherall.php3?s=61087&refer=&units=metric. 
  12. ^ Smith, Tim. The Royal Gazette: Breaking News: New Governor sworn in. 12 December 2007. Accessed 13, December 2007
  13. ^ Taylor, Matthew. The Royal Gazette: The Governor's right hand man. 15 January 2007. Accessed 13 December 2007
  14. ^ Pethen, Valarie: Bermuda Report, Second Edition 1985-1988, page 17. Department of Information Services, 1988. Bermuda
  15. ^ "Sweet Victory for Brown as Dunkley Out". The Royal Gazette. December 19, 2007. http://www.royalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/index.jsp. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  16. ^ Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
  17. ^ Keith Forbes. "Bermuda's distinguished visitors over the years". Royal Gazette. http://www.bermuda-online.org/specialvisitors.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  18. ^ Kent, Jonathan (2008-06-24). "Premier meets the President". The Royal Gazette. http://www.royalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7d86c3730030004&sectionId=48. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  19. ^ Devlin Barrett (2009-06-11). "4 Chinese Muslims released from Guantanamo". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fhostednews%2Fap%2Farticle%2FALeqM5hXh3uNX3sav1yJUl6k1XFvjZaycgD98OG1R01&date=2009-06-11. 
  20. ^ "Four Uyghur Detainees Released". Radio Free Asia. 2009-06-11. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rfa.org%2Fenglish%2Fnews%2Fuyghur%2Frelease-06112009074832.html&date=2009-06-11. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  21. ^ "Breaking News: Premier's statement on Guantanamo Bay". The Royal Gazette. 2009-06-11. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.royalgazette.com%2Fsiftology.royalgazette%2FArticle%2Farticle.jsp%3FarticleId%3D7d965ba30030000%26sectionId%3D60&date=2009-06-11. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  22. ^ "Breaking News update: Guantánamo decision taken "without permission" Governor to assess implications". The Royal Gazette. 2009-06-11. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.royalgazette.com%2Fsiftology.royalgazette%2FArticle%2Farticle.jsp%3FarticleId%3D7d965be30030000%26sectionId%3D60&date=2009-06-11. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  23. ^ [1] Bank of Butterfield Exchange Rate Page
  24. ^ "Average cost of houses hits $1.6m", Jonathan Kent, The Royal Gazette, January 10, 2007
  25. ^ "Average family home now $1.8m", Meredith Ebbin, Bermuda Sun, August 2, 2007
  26. ^ "$1.6m average house price? It’s a distortion says Sir John ", Jonathan Kent, The Royal Gazette, January 12, 2007
  27. ^ http://www.independent.ie/business/world/willis-moves-tax-base-here-ahead-of-us-curbs-1892709.html
  28. ^ [2] Insurance Journal
  29. ^ Tourism in 2006, Royal Gazette, Jan. 11, 2007
  30. ^ "Bermuda College". http://www.bercol.bm/. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  31. ^ "Bermuda joins the UWI Family". http://cavehill.uwi.edu/news/releases/release.asp?id=132. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  32. ^ "Bermuda joins UWI". CaribbeanNetNews. 2009-06-25. http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/article.php?news_id=17279. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  33. ^ Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo
  34. ^ index.html
  35. ^ Bermuda International One Design Fleet
  36. ^ The Portuguese of the West Indies
  37. ^ Bermuda Sun, April 4, 2007.
  38. ^ Grady, F.V. and Olson, S.L. 2006. Fossil bats from Quaternary deposits on Bermuda (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae). Journal of Mammalogy 87(1):148–152.
  39. ^ Regan, Nigel: "No More May 24th" The Bermuda Sun, September 19, 2007

External links

Travel

Miscellanea


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Bermuda is a self-governing British overseas territory in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Caribbean, off the coast of North America east of North Carolina. It is one of the last remains of the once vast British colonial empire in North America.

noframe
Flag
Image:bd-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Hamilton
Government British overseas territory with internal self-government
Currency Bermudian dollar (BMD); par with US dollar
Area 53.3 sq km
Population 65,773 (July 2006 est.)
Language English (official), Portuguese
Religion non-Anglican Protestant 39%, Anglican 27%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 19%
Electricity 120V/60Hz
Calling Code +1-441
Internet TLD .bm
Time Zone UTC -4
Residential scene in Bermuda
Residential scene in Bermuda

Bermuda is divided into nine parishes (from east to west):

  • St. George's Parish - Encompassing the area around the historic Town of St. George as well as the island of St. David's across its harbor.
  • Hamilton Parish - Location of Crystal Caves and Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo.
  • Smith's Parish - Home to Flatts Village, Spittle Pond Nature Preserve and Devil's Hole Aquarium.
  • Devonshire Parish - The quiet parish.
  • Pembroke Parish - Where the city of Hamilton is located.
  • Paget Parish - Numerous resorts, Elbow Beach, Bermuda Botanical Gardens and Paget Marsh for birdwatching.
  • Warwick Parish - Golf, horseback riding and the island's best cliffs.
  • Southampton Parish - The best beaches and Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.
  • Sandys Parish - The Royal Naval Dockyard fortress and shops, but also Somerset Village, Fort Scaur, Gilbert Nature Reserve and some fine beaches.

Bermuda has two incorporated municipalities: one city and one town. There are also unincorporated municipalities (villages).

  • Hamilton - the capital, and only city.
  • St. George - the old capital. Oldest surviving English New World town.
  • Flatts Village - location of the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.
  • Somerset Village - on Somerset Island, Sandy's Parish.

Understand

Topography

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. Despite this complexity, Bermudans usually refer to Bermuda as "the island". In terms of terrain, the islands are comprised of low hills separated by fertile depressions, and interspersed with a complex set of waterways.

The inhabited island chain is actually the southern sector of a circular pseudo-atoll, the remainder of the coral ring being submerged or inter-tidal reefs (Bermuda, while having been formed volcanically, is not a true atoll). 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.

Climate

The best time to visit Bermuda is from Spring through to Autumn. Although the island is an associate member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), it is not actually in the Caribbean Sea and has a different climate. It is much farther north, but the warm waters of the Gulf Stream help give it a quasi-tropical atmosphere.

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, and stored in tanks under the ground for each home or property. 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.

History

Bermuda was first settled in 1609 by shipwrecked English colonists headed for the infant English colony of Virginia. The first industry on the islands was fruit and vegetable cultivation 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 island's 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 stopover 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 Bermuda served as the main intercept center for transatlantic cable messages to and from occupied Europe.

Tourist travel to Bermuda to escape North American winters first developed in Victorian times. Tourism continues to be important to the island's economy, although international business has surpassed 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.

Cup Match

The Thursday (Emancipation Day) and Friday (Somer's Day) before the first Monday in August are when Somerset and St. George play cricket, a tradition since 1901. Almost all businesses, including tourist attractions, shut down and large numbers of tents appear throughout the islands on beaches and roadsides. It's a four-day weekend, Bermuda-style. Bermudians make the most of it, sporting their team's colours, feasting and even doing some legalized gambling with their "Crown and Anchor" dice game.

Get in

One of Bermuda's few taxes is its steep import duty. This varies depending on the item and the importer. Some items are tax exempt when brought in for personal use (books, educational materials). The duty on cars is fixed to their value. If the cost of the vehicle before it is landed is less than BD$ 10,000, the duty is 80%. For cars costing $10,000 or greater, before landing, the duty is 100%. The dealer must add his own profit margin on top of this. Each person arriving on the island 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 duty on the excess value.

There is a $25 airport tax for all passengers. Bermuda's Airport has the world's highest landing/parking fee for airlines, so the overall price for the air ticket (inc. all taxes) is considerably higher than for many Caribbean destinations.

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, snakes or plants.

The airport is situated in St. George's Parish, adjacent to Castle Harbor, and nearer St George's than Hamilton (though no part of Bermuda is far from any other). If you are arriving on an inclusive tour, then your tour operator will probably have arranged onward transportation to your hotel by private bus. The airport is well served by local public buses, but unfortunately these will not accept luggage.

Taxis are available at the airport; depending on time of arrival and destination they may cost up to $50. Rates to and from the airport are set and posted. Hire cars are not available (see 'Get around' below).

One plus for visitors arriving from the US is that customs and immigration clearance is done in Bermuda prior to boarding your flight home. This allows for easy domestic connections on arrival in the US.

By boat/yacht

Bermuda receives many visits from cruise ships during the summer months, with most ships operating from the ports of Baltimore, Boston, Bayonne, New York, Norfolk, Miami/Ft Lauderdale, 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:

  • Hamilton. Cruise ships berth here alongside Front Street, one of the main streets of Bermuda's capital. Passengers here have access to the shops and restaurants of Hamilton, and can reach the rest of the islands using the bus and ferry systems described in 'Get About' below.
  • 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.
  • Royal Naval Dockyard, Ireland Island. This berth is situated in the historic naval dockyard complex at the extreme 'western' end of the island beyond Somerset. This is currently the only location in Bermuda that can accommodate the largest of cruise ships. Passengers can reach Hamilton directly by bus or ferry, and other locations by changing there.

Bermuda is a favorite, if challenging destination for off-shore yacht crews. Crossing from the US mainland or the Azores can take up to 3 weeks in the notorious calm of summer. The rest of the year there might be too much wind: nor'easters to hurricanes. Another hazard: lots of floating debris from sunken ships and the hurricanes of the the last few years. Within a 200 nm radius from Bermuda collisions with solid objects are frequent and often deadly.

Yachts have to clear in Bermuda Customs and Immigration at St George. Only bargain left in the islands: bring your own boat and anchor, moor or dock for free in all the islands' coves for up to 6 months. Check in is only $15.-/pp ($10 cheaper than by air).

Get around

Public transportation

There is no car rental available in the island. However, the other Bermuda transportation modes are excellent and more than make up for any such void.

The islands benefit from an excellent and frequent bus service, which connects all parts of the islands to Hamilton. The buses are air conditioned and used equally by locals and visitors. When catching a bus look out for the pink and blue painted poles which denote bus stops; pink indicates buses heading into Hamilton; blue heading out from Hamilton. Note that buses will not accept passengers with significant luggage.

There are also passenger ferries which ply the waters of Hamilton Harbour and the Great Sound, and are a great way of getting to Somerset and the Dockyard. There is also a ferry service between the Dockyard and St. George. Transportation passes valid on both buses and ferries are available for unlimited use for periods of 1 to 31 days and cost $12-$55. A one-way bus or ferry trip costs $4. Ask the bus driver for a transfer if you must connect to another line.

Schedules for bus and ferry can be found here [2].

Taxis

Taxis are another easy way of getting around the islands. They are available at taxi stands on Front St. in Hamilton, at the major hotels or by phone. All taxis are fitted with a meter and charge $4 for first mile plus $1.40 for each subsequent mile. If not in Hamilton, you can always flag one down on a major road or call to have one pick you up.

With many services in Bermuda, but especially with taxis (though not with buses and ferries, which are very punctual), there is a concept of "Bermuda Time," which basically means, "When we get to it." You may find that, when calling for a taxi to pick you up, they may not be as prompt as you would like. This may mean waiting an extra ten minutes, but remember that Bermuda is not at all fast-paced like a city, it is much more laid back and relaxed here. So relax; you're on Bermuda time. Enjoy the views while you wait.

Cycle Rentals

Until the arrival of the US military during the second world war, cars were entirely banned from the islands. Even now hire cars are banned, and only residents are permitted to own cars. Motorized bicycles or mopeds are available for hire and heavily used by locals and tourists as well. If you wish to use mopeds, rentals are very common, regulated and priced competitively, but beware: "Road Rash" is a very common affliction affecting many tourists. Note that travel is on the left side of the road (opposite to U.S. travel).

More information available from:

  • Department of Public Transportation, Phone: +1 (441) 292-3851, (operators of the bus service), [3].
  • Sea Express, Phone: +1 (441) 295-4506, (operators of the ferry service), [4].
  • Bermuda Taxi Radio Cabs, Phone: +1 (441) 295-4141,
  • Bermuda Taxi Association, Phone: +1 (441) 296-2121,
  • Elbow Beach Cycles Moped Rental, Phone: +1.441.236.9237, (cycle rental), (moped hire) [5].
  • Oleander Cycles, Phone: +1 (441) 236-2453, (cycle rental), [6].
  • Wheels Cycles (Astwood) Ltd., Phone: +1 (441) 292-2245, (cycle rental), [7].

See

There are surprisingly large number of excellent sightseeing places in this 21-square mile tiny island.

Main Sightseeing Attractions :

  • Town of St. George. A scenic UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest, continually inhabited British settlement in the New World. It boasts small winding streets with typical British Colonial architecture with fountains, gardens and squares, cobbled streets and plazas.
  • Bermuda Maritime Museum, Pender Rd., Royal Naval Dockyard, Phone: 441-234-1418, [8]. Take 1/2 a day to go to the Royal Naval Dockyard. After the loss of its naval bases during the American Revolutionary War, the British Royal Navy relocated the headquarters of its Atlantic Fleet here from 1812 to 1957. The old limestone storage buildings, keep and fortress have been wisely redeveloped by the Bermuda Government into a tourist attraction and shopping centre.
  • Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo, 40 North Shore Road, Flatts Village, Phone: (441) 293-2727, [9]. Daily 9AM-5PM (last admission 4PM). Centerpieced by a 140,000 gallon replica coral reef, this one of Bermuda's main attractions. Over three hundred birds, reptiles and mammals and 200 species of fish. Adults $10, Seniors $5, ages 5 to 12 $5.
  • Crystal and Fantasy Caves, Wilkinson Avenue, Bailey’s Bay, Phone: 441-293-0640, [10]. Daily 9:30AM-4:30PM (last admission 4:00). Two quite different caves to see.
  • Spittal Pond (note: This was heavily damaged by Hurricane Fabian in 2003 and the process of fixing the trails and trees is still ongoing.)
  • Devil's Hole Aquarium, Harrington Sound Road, Hamilton, 441-293-2727. Small but fun. "Fish" for reef fish and turtles with bait, but no hooks. Daily 9:30AM-4:30PM. Adult $5, ages 5-12 $3, under 5 $.50.
  • Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, 40 Crow Lane, East Broadway, Pembroke, just outside of Hamilton, Phone: 441-297-7219, [11].
  • Bermuda National Trust Museum known as the Globe Hotel, [12].
  • Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, St Anne's Road, Southampton. One of the oldest cast iron structures in the world. First lit on May 1st 1846. You can climb its 180 steps to the observation deck surrounding the lamp, which offers spectacular views of the island and the waters around. There is a Tea Room at its base offering drinks and light fare.

Do

Swim

Go to one of Bermuda's lovely pink sandy beaches:

  • Horseshoe Bay Beach, Southampton Parish. Beautiful pink sand beach bordered by rocky areas suitable for snorkeling. Probably the most photographed (and most popular) Bermudian beach. Be aware that it may be crowded with cruise ship tourists, whose number one stop is often this beach. The surf can get rough at times here. There are bathroom facilities, beach rentals, and food concessions. Lifeguards in summer.
  • Elbow Beach, Tribe Road #4, Paget Parish. Another beautiful pink sand beach between Coral Beach, Elbow Beach and Coco Reef hotels.
  • Tobacco Bay, St. George Parish. A boulder-sheltered, shallow, warm-water beach which can become quite crowded with cruise ship passengers. Can be reached on foot from St. George square or shuttles are readily available. Another walk will take you to nearby Fort St. Catherine. Rest rooms, food concession, beach rentals.
  • Achilles Bay / St. Catherine's Bay, Northeastern St. George Parish. Can be reached on foot from St. George square or shuttles are readily available. Adjacent to Fort St. Catherine. Rest rooms, food concession nearby, beach rentals.
  • Clearwater Beach / Turtle Beach / Turtle Bay / Long Bay / Well Bay / Soldier Bay, in St. David's near the eastern end of the airport runway. Located on former US Air Base lands used for NASA tracking station at Cooper's Island. Rest rooms, food concession and bar. Children's playground. Lifeguards during the summer months.
  • John Smith's Bay Beach, Hamilton Parish. Nice pink sand beach. Summer lifeguards. Usually a mobile food concession.
  • Shelly Bay, North Shore Road, Hamilton Parish. Lots of shallow water and a large playground make this great choice for families with small kids. Not far from Flatts Village and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. Restrooms, beach rentals, food concession.
  • Chaplin Bay / Stonehole Bay / Warwick Long Bay, South Road, Warwick Parish. Warwick Long Bay is a very large beach. It's less popular than the other large beaches due to its relatively steep sand slope, and strong undercurrent. Chaplin and Stonehole bays, along with the accompanying Jonson's Cove, are pristine, picture postcard settings. They are made up of small and medium sized sandy inlets.
  • Snorkel Park, Royal Naval Dockyard, Phone: 234-6989. A limestone tunnel through the keep's wall puts you on the beachfront for snorkeling or water sports. This is often a popular stop for passengers coming off the cruise ships and reluctant to leave the Dockyard area.

Golf

Bermuda has many golf courses and driving ranges spread out along its length.

  • St. George Golf Course, St. George Parish, north of the Town of St. George.
  • Tuckers Point Golf Course / Mid Ocean Golf Course, St. George Parish, near Tucker's Town.
  • Ocean View Golf Course, Devonshire Parish on northern shore.
  • Horizons Golf Course, Paget Parish south-west. (9 holes)
  • Belmont Hills Golf Course, Warwick Parish east.
  • Riddell's Bay Golf and Country Club, Warwick Parish west.
  • Fairmount Southampton Princess Golf Course, Southampton Parish east.
  • Port Royal Golf Course, Southampton Parish west.
  • Bermuda Golf Academy and Driving Range, Southampton Parish west.

Explore

Bermuda Railway Trail

The bed of the former Bermuda Railway which was dismantled in 1948 after 17 years of service. Many sections still exist as a public walking trail stretching from St. George Town in the east end, through Pembroke Parish near the City of Hamilton and on toward Somerset Village in the west end. Many station houses, trestle footings and railway ties can be found. It offers spectacular views of the island and waters along its length.

Bermuda Forts

Bermuda has many examples of large fortifications and smaller batteries spread throughout the island which were built between 1612 after first settlement and manned until 1957. For its small size the island had approximately 100 fortifications built. Many have been restored, primarily the larger ones, and are open to the public with dioramas and displays. Many have their original cannons in place. Some lie on outlying islands and islets and can only be accessed via boat, or have been incorporated into private properties and resorts. Some of those which can be accessed are:

  • Fort St. Catherine , St. George Parish north (has displays and dioramas and replica Crown Jewels)
  • Gates Fort, St. George Parish east (guarding Town Cut channel entrance)
  • Alexandra Battery, St. George Parish east
  • Fort George, St. George Parish (overlooking the Town of St. George)
  • St. David's Battery, St. George Parish east
  • Martello Tower / Ferry Island Fort, St. George Parish west (at Ferry Reach)
  • King's Castle / Devonshire Redoubt / Landward Fort, St. George Parish south (on Castle Island, accessed via boat)
  • Fort Hamilton, Pembroke Parish (overlooking the City of Hamilton)
  • Whale Bay Battery, Southampton Parish west.
  • Fort Scaur, Sandys Parish (overlooking the waters of the Great Sound)
  • The Keep at the Dockyard, Sandys Parish (within the Maritime Museum)

Buy

Bermuda's currency is the Bermudian dollar (BMD or B$), which is divided into 100 cents. It comes in all the same denominations as US currency, except for a more widely used dollar coin and a two dollar bill. The currency is directly tied to US currency, so USD $1 always equals BMD $1, and US dollars are accepted everywhere in Bermuda at par. Bermudian dollars are not, however, accepted in the United States.

Costs

Bermuda can be expensive. Because of Bermuda's steep import tax, all goods sold in stores that come from off the island carry a significant markup. When buying groceries or other (non-souvenir) items of that nature, be aware that the best prices are usually away from the more "touristy" areas. For example, one cup of yogurt might cost about $1.60 at a grocery store near hotels; it will cost 25% less at a grocery store further from the tourist attractions, and only 10 cents more than in the United States. When buying these sort of things, go to where the locals go.

Shopping

A nice assortment of stores exists in Hamilton, especially on Front Street. The area can be explored easily by foot. Front Street, is one of the main shopping streets, and is facing the harbor. In recent years, two of the largest and oldest department stores on Front Street have closed. However, A.S. Coopers, first established in 1897, remains.

Shopping can also be found in the easily walked town of St George as well as in Dockyard, which has a small shopping mall. Smaller stores can be found throughout the island offering a variety of goods.

Eat

Two relatively unique Bermudian dishes are salted codfish, boiled with potatoes, the traditional Sunday breakfast, and Hoppin' John, a simple dish of boiled rice and black-eyed peas. Shark hash was made, fish cakes were traditional on Fridays, hotcross buns at Easter, and cassava or farine pies at Christmas. With the high-end tourist market, great effort has been expended by hotel and restaurant chefs in developing an ostensibly 'traditional Bermudian cuisine', although this has usually meant adapting other cuisines, from West Indian to Californian, in line with the expectations of visiting clientele. Most pubs serve a typical British Pub fare, although the number of these establishments has diminished as premises are lost to development, or establishments are redeveloped to target the tourist market (note the loss of the Ram's Head, the White Heron, the Rum Runner, and the Cock and Feather (redeveloped into the Pickled Onion, with a nouveau menu)). On the other hand, over the same period Bermuda gained its first and only Irish pub, Flannagan's. While lobster and other seafoods are often featured on the menu, virtually everything is imported from the US or Canada. Although this shows in the price of even casual dining and groceries, it should be noted that locally produced foodstuffs are typically less varied, poorer quality, produced in smaller quantities, and more expensive. Most bananas, for instance, will have a 'Chiquita' sticker, and are larger than those grown locally (which do have the advantage of ripening on the plant).

Restaurants and Dining Options

Restaurants can be found all over the island, with the largest concentration in the city of Hamilton and St George town. Also, there are several at some of the hotels which are outstanding, although pricey. At Elbow Beach Hotel, Cafe lido is excellent, and Southampton Fairmont Waterlot Inn, although sometimes crowded and noisy, has excellent dining.

Remember that with most restaurants, the closer you are to the cruise ship docks, the more expensive the menu will be. Most cruise ship passengers have a short time in which to experience Bermuda, and if they don't eat on the ship, most will be reluctant to leave the town to eat. The restaurants in proximity to the cruise ship docks in, say, St. George's can be as much as three times as expensive as a comparable one in, say, Somerset Village.

Local dishes

Local specialties include:

  • Cassava pie. Farine is an alternate base. Traditionally eaten at Christmas, but becoming more commonly found in local markets year round.
  • Bay grape jelly. Bay grapes were introduced as a wind break. Although, like Surinam cherries and loquats, they are found throughout Bermuda, and produce edible fruit, none of these plants are cultivated for agriculture in Bermuda, and their fruits are normally eaten from the tree, primarily by school children.
  • Bermuda Bananas which are smaller and sweeter than others, are often eaten on Sunday mornings with codfish and potatoes.
  • Fish is eaten widely in the form of local tuna, wahoo, and rockfish. Local fish is a common feature on restaurant menus across the island.

Drink

Bermuda has two popular 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. Sometimes brandy is added to the mixture as well. Note, it is quite strong. According to local lore, it was named after the Swizzle Inn (although swizzle [13]] is a term that originated in England, possibly in the 18th Century) where it was said to be devloped.
  • Dark n' Stormy is a highball of Gosling's Black Seal, a dark blend of local rums, mixed with Barritt's Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer.

Both drinks are comparatively very sweet.

Sleep

Accommodations in Bermuda are typically quite expensive. However there are excellent options available

There are many exclusive and four star accommodations such as:

  • Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, 76 Pittsbay Rd, Hamilton, Phone: 441-295-3000,[14].
  • Fairmont Southampton Hotel, 101 South Shore Rd, Phone: 441-238-8000, [15].
  • Ariel Sands Hotel, 34 Shore Road, Devonshire, Phone: 441-236-1010, [16].
  • The Elbow Beach Club Resort, 60 South Shore Road, Paget Parish, Phone: 441-236-3535, [17].
  • Grotto Bay Beach Resort, 11 Blue Hole Hill, Bailey's Bay, Phone: 441-293-8333, [18].
  • The Wyndham Bermuda Hotel, Southampton Beaches, Phone: Phone: 441-238-8122, [19].
  • Cambridge Beaches Resort, 30 Kings Point Road, Sandys, Phone: 441-234-0331, [20].
  • 9 Beaches Resort, Sandys, Phone: 441-239-2999, [21].
  • The Reefs, Southampton, (441) 238-0222, [22].  edit

There are also a wide variety of B&B style accommodations and smaller guestroom hotels (with kitchenettes) such as:

  • The Rosemont Hotel, 41 Rosemont Avenue, Pembroke, Phone: 441-292-1055, [23].
  • Oxford Guesthouse, Woodbourne Av., Pembroke, Phone: 441-295 0503

Additionally, some businesses offer private homes, apartments and studios for short term rent such as Bermuda Accommodations Inc. www.bermudarentals.com, Phone: 416-232-2243

The exorbitant cost of accommodation and airfares has had a negative effect on tourism, which is shrinking by >25% every year. Local government therefore hopes for more budget airlines to come to the island (now only USA3000 from Baltimore and some JetBlue Flights are available. Cruise ships are scape-goated for the decline in hotel stays. Compared to Caribbean destinations Bermuda is at least twice to five times as expensive for a similar product.

  • Bermuda College, Stonington Av, South Rd, Paget, 441-236-9000, [24]. Bermuda's lone college.

Work

Bermudians have been successful in implementing policies devoted to making sure the native-born (primarily black) population is not excluded from economic prosperity and professional opportunities, in favor of foreign workers (primarily white). Laws are in place to encourage the hiring of qualified Bermudians and to building a future in which it is the rule, rather than the exception, for native-born Bermudians to be professionally trained and promoted, and for young Bermudians to see a future in which they can hold places of leadership and progress within their own country.

Many Caribbean nations have faced the challenge of rising "emergency" emigration as native-born populations are being shut out of upper-level professional opportunities through the importation of foreign workers. This is a practice which many see as a reversal of hard-won struggles against the racial discrimination and slavery-born caste systems of the past, and has resulted in striking decreases in the quality of life for these nations and the rise of widespread social problems.

Because of a small population, economic prosperity and an early-response, Bermuda has been able to (comparatively) stem the tide of such problems and maintain a higher standard of living for all of its people, rather than cultivate a pervasive racial caste system of tourists and foreign workers, served and entertained by native-born blacks who provide 'color and culture' but without an equal footing in society.

Talk

The principal language spoken is English, although many Bermudians have a strong accent. Bermuda has a unique accent as it's not really similar to any other Caribbean country. Most people claim it resembles the Southern U.S. in some cases. Portuguese is the second most widely spoken language.

Stay safe

Violent crime is becoming increasingly problematic in Bermuda, but is still very rare compared to other destinations in the Caribbean. Most of the time it's only petty crimes like robbery. Using common sense and similar precautions one would take at home is usually sufficient enough to deter most thieves.

Mopeds are very frequent targets for theft; make sure that you properly lock up any rented moped when leaving them unattended. Also rented mopeds have a tendency to get into accidents due to the sometimes narrow roads as well as driving on the left hand side, which may take getting used to. Using common sense and keeping calm in the traffic, which can appear quite close helps.

Also note that homosexuality is seen as taboo in public in Bermuda, although allowed by law in private. The local gay community exists on a more low-key scale than elsewhere, with no gay specific venues at this time.

Stay healthy

Although it should go without saying, Bermuda can get very hot during the day, meaning a bottle of water is very handy for those venturing more than a short distance from their hotels.

Health care in Bermuda is incredibly expensive, and is roughly at the standard of expense found on the USA. There is one hospital on the island, the King Edward VII Memorial, with emergency services, including a decompression chamber. Air Ambulance service is available to additional medical services on the US east coast. There is no government funded National Health Service.

Respect

It is considered good manners when greeting someone, whether it be a shop assistant or the Premier, to give them a 'Good Morning' / 'Afternoon' / 'Evening', and to do the same when leaving them. Try to avoid any political/ideological/religious discussions, unless you know the person very well.

Most Bermudians are very accommodating when it comes to helping out or answering any questions a visitor may have. Just stop someone on the street or pop into any shop/store and ask.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also bermuda

Contents

English

Etymology

From the name of Juan de Bermudez, the Spanish explorer who discovered the islands in 1515.

Proper noun

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Wikipedia

Singular
Bermuda

Plural
-

Bermuda

  1. An island group in the the North Atlantic Ocean, 580 nautical miles (1074 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, held as an Overseas Territory by Britain.

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