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British Virgin Islands and Bermuda

Category United States
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The British Virgin Islands (BIV) and the Bermuda are British colonies with a high degree of internal self-government. Both countries have been designated as a British Overseas Territory and although they are still technically under British rule, they have exercised control over their own state affairs. Demography The Virgin Islands is an archipelago of more than 40 islands, of which 16 are inhabited. It has strong ties with the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as it is geographically situated in between these countries.

As per the latest data in the CIA Factbook, the male-dominated BIV has a population of 23,552 (July 2007 estimate) with nearly two per cent growth rate. Given its history with the US, the official language is English and almost ninety per cent of the population are Protestants. The Virgin Islands has one of the most stable economies in the Caribbean. Some 45 per cent of its income is generated from tourism. In 2005 for example, more than 800,000 tourists, mainly from the United States visited the Islands. It also relies on light industries and offshore financial centers.

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The Bermuda on the other hand, was first inhabited by English colonist in the early 17th century. It belongs to the group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, east of South Carolina in the US. The Bermuda is a small country, roughly one-third of Washington D. C. Like the Virgin Islands, its official language is English although a significant number of its more than 66,163 (July 2007 estimate) population speaks Portuguese. The major religions are Anglican and Catholic. The Bermuda boasts of the highest per capita income in the world, more than 50 per cent higher than that of the United States.

Its primary income generator is their robust international business sector. Government and Politics The Bermuda is the oldest Britain’s colony. For five years now, it ahs been a self-governing territory of the UK. Bermudans are entitled to enjoy dual citizenship and have the right to live and work in Europe (Sanders, par. 5) The system of government in Bermuda is that of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency. The official head of state is the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, while the Premier is the head of government.

The Queen appoints a Governor to represent her in Bermuda. Bermuda’s political framework is very similar to that of the UK. Like most democracies, it has two legislative chambers: the House of Assembly and the Senate. Bermuda is independent of the UK in all internal matters and makes its own set of laws (Forbes, par. 11). British and UK laws do not apply in Bermuda. Bermuda laws are generally much more restrictive to non-nationals. The Bermuda, however, is dependent on Britain for defense, external affairs and internal security.

Like Bermuda, the BIV is also self-governing in most internal matters. According to its amended Constitution of 2000, their head of state is also the Queen and her appointed governor is in charge of the country’s external affairs, defense, internal security and public service. On all other matters except those, the executive council ahs authority. The executive council is headed by the governor, chief minister, an attorney-general and three other ministers. In both the Bermuda and Virgin Islands, the Queen remains to be the most important figure.

The governor she appoints is also given much value considering the structure of their government and their political framework. Their legislature and executive councils, however, have autonomy to the states’ internal matters. Independence The issue of independence has been a recurring subject of debate in both countries. In Bermuda, independence has been discussed since the mid-1960’s when Britain was anxious to get rid of all its colonies. In 2004, the ruling Progressive Labour Party has Created the Bermuda Independence Commission.

Its main concern is to educate people about the gains and losses of independence. Despite the arguments for independence, however, opposition on breaking links with Britain has been strong. A November 2006 poll shows that 65 per cent of Bermudans were against breaking ties with Britain (Jones, par. 2). This is 17 per cent lower than the 57 per cent in July of the same year. The issue of independence however is expected to be a major point when Bermuda holds its elections in January 2009. Independence was rejected in a 1995 referendum by 75 per cent voters.

The main argument against independence is the fact that Bermuda enjoys a high degree despite its being a British colony. Its economy has been robust. As former Premier Sir John Swan likes to put it, “With the Americans to feed us and the British to defend us, who needs independence” (Sanders, par. 10). In British Virginia Islands, although there is no formal movement toward full independence, its possibility is a central topic of public debate and party politics. Despite self-governance, the Bermuda and Virgin Islands politics is still very much similar to that of its crown country.

Bermuda’s political, as well as social economic institutions have shown resiliency and stability. Despite this, however, its political framework has not fully been independent of Britain. This is because it was Britain who instituted its political system. The Queen and her appointed Governor is an active force in the affairs of the state so much so that the Westminster style of government is still very much felt. The same thing applies to the Virgin Islands. Its politics is British in origin and even with a high level of autonomy, the framework of government is still very much like its crown country.

Its colonial relationship with the United Kingdom lets it operate in a constitutional democracy with the executive authority vested in the Queen. British influence is all over Bermuda and the Virgin Islands. Their national anthem is both “God Save the Queen” and the Queen’s birthday is observed as an official public holiday. Their Constitutions are drafted the British way. Branches of government such as the executive and judiciary also demand Britain’s participation. And although these colonies have been handling internal matters of government by themselves, their external affairs are still Britain’s problem.

Until a significant portion of government is still controlled by Britain, Bermuda and the Virgin Islands will still bear the same political structure—one that has its democracy of its own but deems considerable interference from the crown country as a must. Anglophone countries Anglophone nations share the same historical, cultural, and political characteristics attributed to the historical experience of the United Kingdom. Generally, it includes territories and former colonies of the UK which have English as the national language.

But with its loose definition rooted on history and culture, it may also mean countries which use legal systems based on Common Law or simply Great Britain or British-settled countries. They also share similarities in civil rights and personal freedoms. In short, the Anglosphere “is not a club that a person or nation can join or be excluded from, but a condition or status of a network” (Bennett, par. 3). However, because of its imprecise boundaries, the Anglosphere as a network civilization does not have its corresponding political form.

Its union is based firmly on culture and does not take any political outline. Notice that the forms of government in these English speaking countries are different. Some take the republican form, some are constitutional monarchies, while some are parliamentary democracies. The idea of a “Anglosphere government” has been subject to debate. The basic argument is that merging these countries and making it like a European Union of sorts would be a great development in the onward progress of English-speaking supremacy.

However, others argue that the particular genius in this union is the fact that it has remained apolitical and non-governmental. Forging the Anglosphere as one solid government, they say, may only lead to the centralization of power. Anglophone countries handle their government differently. Their link to the atmosphere has not so far affected the way in which they run their politics. The Anglosphere is not a government of its own and it refuses to be. English-speaking countries who have joined the sphere have existing government structures that they chose to pursue despite “membership” in the union.

The so-called “anglosphere challenge” however has earned buzz in the recent years. It is said that these political entities, though loose, is a force to reckon in the time of technological and scientific change provided they remain true to the traits that bonded them together in the first place—a strong, independent civil society, adherence to the rule of law, its people and ideas and openness and receptivity to the world. Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados Unlike the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago is completely independent from Britain.

It takes the form of a unitary state with a parliamentary democracy modeled after that of its former crown country. In 1976, soon after it broke ties with Britain, it adopted its own republican Constitution. The Queen is thereby replaced with a president elected by the Parliament. Since then, the general control and direction of its government rests on the cabinet, led by the prime minister. Barbados, for its part, gained independence from Britain in November 1966. It subsequently adopted the Westminster parliamentary system of government with a governor-general representing the British monarch.

Its 1966 Constitution also provides for a bicameral parliamentary system headed by a prime minister and cabinet. Since breaking ties with Britain, responsibility for organizing the government has been evenly divided between its two major political parties that are both centrist social democratic parties that date its roots back to the British labor movement. The main difference between the overseas territories (Bermuda and Virgin Islands) and the two former colonies (Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados) is the extent to which Britain interferes with their affairs of government.

Former colonies may have chosen to adopt British influence in its political structure but it is completely in control of both its internal and external affairs. The overseas territories, on the other hand, may have been granted self-governance but it does not have total control of its government, especially its defense and external affairs of government. Works Cited Bennet, James. “Orphans of the Anglosphere. ” Albion’s Seedlings. (21 November 2005). 09 September 2007. < http://anglosphere. com/weblog/archives/000145. html>. Forbes, Keith.

“Bermuda and Great Britain: A self-governing British Overseas Territory with its own laws. ” Bermuda online. 09 September 2007. <http://www. bermuda- online. org/colonial. htm>. Jones, Dan. “Poll finds opposition to Independence rises. ” The Royal Gazette Magazine. (28 November 2006). 09 September 2007. <http://www. theroyalgazette. com/ Siftology. royalgazette? Article/article. jsp? sectionId=60&articleId= 7d6be1330030157>. Sanders, Ronald. “Bermuda: Independence or not? ” Caribbean Net News. (08 March 2005). 9 September 2007. <http://www. caribbeannetnews. com/2005/03/08/ Sanders. shtml>.

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