The British Virgin Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom found in the Caribbean Sea. The country is located east of Puerto Rico and covers the four main islands of Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola and Virgin Gorda, as well as over fifty smaller cays and islands. The country is known for its scenic beaches, reefs, rainforests and as a destination for vacationing and yachting.
Some the country's major tourist attractions
Sage Mountain National Park
Sage Mountain National Park was established in 1964 as the first national park in the British Virgin Islands. It was given to the government of the country with a grant that was provided by Laurance Rockefeller (1910-2004). The national park covers 96 acres on the island of Tortola, including the land around the highest peak in the country, Mount Sage. Mount Sage stands at 1,716 feet (523 meters) tall. The park has a semi-rainforest type of vegetation with moist winds generated by Mount Sage that fall on the north side of the park. Sage Mountain National Park features old-growth forest that has been undisturbed for centuries. Animals in the park include hermit crabs, red-tailed hawks and the Caribbean martin among others. For tourists that visit the park there are many trails for trekking and hiking along the park. There is also various stunning views of outlying islands and the ocean that can be seen from the north coast overlook in the park.
Anegada island is the second largest island that makes up the British Virgin Islands, at 15 square miles (38 square kilometers). It is notable because it is not volcanic in origin like all of the other islands or mountains. Instead, it was formed by limestone and coral. The highest point on the island is only 28 feet (8.5 meters) above sea level. The island only has a population of about 285 people, with about 200 living in the only city called The Settlement. Tourism is the major business for the island, and tourists are drawn to the island to experience the secluded beaches and scenic views. They also snorkel and scuba dive to experience the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, the Horseshoe Reef. The island also has unique large salt ponds on its west end, which are home to the Caribbean flamingos. Other endangered species on the island are the Anegada rock iguana and several species of turtles.
Tourism is the lifeblood of the British Virgin Islands
In 2006 around 825,000 people visited the British Virgin Island, with more than half being passengers from cruise ships. The global recession caused about a 12% decline in these numbers, but they have been steadily recovering in recent years. These numbers are mind-boggling, since the country only has a population of around 25,000 people. According to numbers from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) tourism and travel made up 27.0% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013. The WTTC also said that tourism and the jobs that indirectly employed 90.1% of the population in 2013.