Discovered by the Spanish in 1493, the islands were first settled by Dutch planters before falling into British hands in 1666. In 1672 they were annexed to the Leeward Islands but civil government was introduced only in 1773. They were governed as part of the Leeward Islands Federation from 1872 to 1956 and independently since then.
The BVI are still a crown colony with a Governor appointed by London but they are largely self governing through a Legislative Council.
The British Virgin Islands have only 20 000 residents but they cater to 280 000 tourists a year! That's 14 visitors for each man, woman and child on all the islands. That is the highest tourist to resident ratio in the world. Furthermore, they depend on tourism for 80 percent of their gross domestic product. These two ratios give the British Virgin Islands a Tourist Saturation Index (TSI) of 11.18, the world's highest!
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I enjoyed the scenery of the islands on the ferry from Charlotte Amalie on St-Thomas to West End, the first port of call on Tortola.
There are about 1300 hotel rooms on the BVI for a population of 20 000. The only other economic activity is tax free hosting of IBCs (International Business Companies).
I guess that we can safely qualify the residents of the BVI as "servants of tourists".
Tortola is not cheap. The small hotel, "Jolly Roger", in West End is the cheapest place to sleep on Tortola but it does charge 50 $US a night.
Here's a dramatic shot of the West End Marina.
A view of the island between West End and the capital, Road Town.
It was about five in the afternoon when I got off the ferry in Road Town. I had planned to spend one night there at a the Wayside Inn Guest House where I expected to pay about 50 $US.
When I asked a group of taxi drivers outside the ferry terminal where the Wayside Inn was, they told me it had closed down and that I would not find a room in Road Town for less than 100 $US. They were not helpful at all and became almost hostile when I asked about inexpensive homestays. I realised that for them, I was not a human being but only a tourist to be plucked clean as efficiently as possible.
Just then, it started to rain, the sun was going down and the vibrations were wrong. Luckily I knew the flight schedules so I paid one of these bastards 20 $US to drive me a few kilometres to the airport on Beef Island where I just managed to get on the 7:30 flight to Sint Maarten. I was glad to get away from that trap!