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Bermuda

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Bermuda, or Bermuda Islands, island group, is a self-governing territory depending of the United Kingdom and located in the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Hatteras Cape. The group is made up of approximately 150 small islands (of which only 20 are inhabited), islets and rocks, with a total land area of 53 sp km.

The most important of the inhabited islands are Bermuda, also called Great Bermuda, and the largest island with 23km in length; Somerset; Ireland; Saint George’s; Saint Davis; and Boaz.

Geologically, the islands have a volcanic basis and are covered by coral formations. The abundance of reefs and coral lagoons is seen on the north and south of the island, being separated by one another by numberless channels.

Bermuda is divided into five parishes, all with approximately 3.3Km length. The parishes are Devonshire, Hamilton, Paget, Pembroke, Sandys, Smith’s, Southampton, Warwick and St. George’s.

 

 

HISTORY

 

The discovery of Bermuda is attributed to a Spanish navigator, Juan de Bermúdez, who shipwrecked there in 1503. However, its settlement took place only in 1609, when the navy ship Sir George Somers was also shipwrecked there. By this time, the English colonizers established themselves on the islands and gave them the name of Somers Islands.

In 1684, the islands became a colony of the English Crown. Shortly after, after the import of black slaves, Portuguese labourers coming from Madeira Islands and the Azores arrived to the region.
Due to its privileged geographical location, Bermuda sheltered many Americans during the Civil War and served both as prisons to the British Government during the Boer War (1899-1902) and as the winter naval station for British North Atlantic and West Indian squadrons.

Bermuda became autonomous in 1968 and in 1995 rejected a referendum that would have made the islands independent of the United Kingdom. Since the 1990 decade, international business grew into Bermuda’s most important economic activity.

The United Bermuda Party (UBP) governed the islands from 1968, when they became self-governing, until the 1998 legislative elections. The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) and its leader, the Prime-minister Jennifer Smith, then took control of the government until 2003, when, after the elections, Smith resigned from that position. The PLP chose Alex Scott to replace Jennifer Smith and become the Prime minister of Bermuda.

 

 

ECONOMY

 

The picturesque scenery and the warm climate make Bermuda a great “refugee” for those who appreciate sunny and calm holidays. Tourism gives an important contribution to the islands’ economy. In 2001, 275.000 tourists visited the region. In the nineties, however, international business, such as banking and insurance, began to dominate Bermuda’s economy. Transforming factories, including pharmaceuticals, perfumes, mineral-water extracts and essential oils give also a significant contribute to the economy of the islands. Only a small area of Bermuda Islands is under cultivation, with bananas, vegetables and flowers. Bermuda’s main imports are some food supplies, manufactured goods and fuels.

 

 

GOVERNMENT

 

Bermuda’s administration is based on the constitution adopted in 1968, after becoming autonomous, but still depending of the United Kingdom.

The governor, designated by the British Crown, is responsible for external affairs, internal security, defence, and police and is advised by an executive Council on other matters. The Executive Council consists of the prime minister (head of the leading party in the House of Assembly) and six other members of the legislature. 

The House of Assembly is made up of forty members elected for five years. The main political organizations are the conservative United Bermuda Party (UBP) and the centre-left Progressive Labour Party (PLP).

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Land Area

Bermuda is divided into nine parishes and covers 53 sq km.

 

Capital City

Bermuda’s capital city is Hamilton, located in Pembroke Parish.

 

Geography

Bermuda is covered by a dense vegetation and is very rich in some plant species, such as the famous Bermudian cedar, bamboo, palm trees, papaya and numberless floral plants.

 

Climate

Bermuda’s climate is mild. The temperatures vary between 17ºC in winter and 26ºC in summer.

 

Lagoons

The main lagoons are Harrington Sound and Castle Harbour.

 

Government

Bermuda is a self-governing territory depending of the British Crown. Its political power is divided into the Executive, represented by the Prime Minister, the Legislative, represented by the House of Assembly and Judicial, represented by the courts.

 

The Constitution

The Constitution consists of a 96-page text, adopted on June 8, 1968. This constitution differs from others, once it refers only to Bermuda’s citizens and does not include foreigners.

 

National Symbols

The national symbols are the bird “cahow”, the Bermudian flower from the family of the iris, the Bermudian cedar and the onion.

 

Flag

Bermuda’s flag is red, with the flag of the United Kingdom in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Bermudian Coat of Arms centred on the outer half of the flag.

 

Anthem

Bermuda’s Anthem is “God Save the Queen”.

 

Currency

The Bermudian dollar corresponds to the American dollar, divided into 100 cents.

 

 

Population

According to the 2003 census, Bermuda has 64.482 inhabitants.

 

Religion

Bermuda’s main religion is the Anglican, with 30% of the population, followed by the Roman Catholic.

 

Languages

Bermuda’s official language is the English. However, due to the great number of immigrants from different places in the world several other languages are also spoken.

 

Education/Literacy

Education is free between the ages of 5 and 16.

Furthermore, 98% of the male population and 99% of the female population can read and write.

 

Transportation

In Bermuda, public roads occupy an extension of 240km.

It has an International Naval service, as well as an International Airline service (Bermuda International Airport at the parish of St. George’s).

 

Cost of living

Bermuda’s cost of living is considered one of the highest in the world. For example, it is 280% higher than in Canada or the United Kingdom, and 380% higher than in the United States.

 

Economic Activities

Due to the lack of good cultivation land, Bermuda’s production sector is small. Bermudian economy is primarily based on tourism and on providing financial services for international business. There are also some industries, such as pharmaceuticals, mineral extraction, etc. 

 

 

 

 

Azorean Emigration to Bermuda

Azorean emigration to Bermuda dates from the second half of the 19th century. Made up of 150 small islands, from which only 20 are inhabited, this archipelago has sheltered many Azorean emigrants throughout the years.

Emigration to this colony of the Autonomous Government of the United Kingdom assumes specific characteristics, namely in what concerns the definitive permanence of the emigrants, as well as their residence, authorized only by a work contract previously signed.

 

Despite all this, emigration to Bermuda was since the beginning a preference of many Azoreans, mainly “micaelenses” (Portuguese name for São Miguel island natives). They established themselves in Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda, working in areas such as tourism, restaurants and gardening.

 

Emigration to this destination has never registered numbers above one thousand individuals a year, as is the case of other countries. However, taking into account the specific characteristics mentioned before, one can see that the numbers were high, being until today a referential choice.

 

Like other destinations, the values of emigration were the highest during the 60’s and 70’s, decreasing after this period, with some changes.  

 

During the last five years, the average number of emigrants to Bermuda was about 128 individuals.

 

Due to the peculiarities of this type of emigration, where the returning to the native country is mandatory, the community has an official Portuguese school so the culture and language of the native country can be taught, both to the children of the residents and to the children who were already born there.

 

The Azorean community in Bermuda also promotes associative activities, the media, as well as the maintenance of the Azorean cultural identity. The temporary stay in Bermuda doesn’t prevent, however, the Azorean community from living their own culture.

 

 
Bermuda Flag
 
Azorean Emigration to Bermuda
 
 


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