British Virgin Islands: Government#

Country nameconventional long form: none
conventional short form: British Virgin Islands
abbreviation: BVI
etymology: the myriad islets, cays, and rocks surrounding the major islands reminded explorer Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 of Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgin followers (Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Virgenes), which over time shortened to the Virgins (las Virgenes)
Dependency statusoverseas territory of the UK; internal self-governing
Government typeparliamentary democracy (House of Assembly); self-governing overseas territory of the UK
CapitalRoad Town Road Town
geographic coordinates: 18 25 N, 64 37 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisionsnone (overseas territory of the UK)
Independencenone (overseas territory of the UK)
National holidayTerritory Day, 1 July (1956)
Constitutionseveral previous; latest effective 15 June 2007 (2016)
Legal systemEnglish common law
Citizenshipsee United Kingdom
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor John DUNCAN (since 15 August 2014)
head of government: Premier Orlando SMITH (since 9 November 2011)
cabinet: Executive Council appointed by the governor from members of the House of Assembly
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed premier by the governor
Legislative branchdescription: unicameral House of Assembly (13 seats; 9 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies and 4 at-large seats by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the Assembly includes the attorney general, a non-voting ex officio member
elections: last held on 8 June 2015 (next to be held in 2019)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDP 9, VIP 3, PEP 1
Judicial branchhighest court(s): the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is the itinerant superior court of record for the 9-member Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to include the British Virgin Islands; the ECSC - with its headquarters on St. Lucia - is headed by the chief justice and is comprised of the Court of Appeal with 3 justices and the High Court with 16 judges; sittings of the Court of Appeal and High Court rotate among the 9 member states; 3 High Court judges reside in member states; 3 High Court judges reside on the British Virgin Islands
judge selection and term of office: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court chief justice appointed by Her Majesty, Queen ELIZABETH II; other justices and judges appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission; Court of Appeal justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 65; High Court judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 62
subordinate courts: Magistrates' Courts
Political parties and leadersNational Democratic Party or NDP (Orlando SMITH);; Virgin Islands Party or VIP (Julian FRASER)
Political pressure groups and leadersFamily Support Network
Woman's Deskother: environmentalists
International organization participationCaricom (associate), CDB, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, OECS, UNESCO (associate), UPU
Diplomatic representation in the USnone (overseas territory of the UK)
Diplomatic representation from the USnone (overseas territory of the UK)
Flag descriptionblue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Virgin Islander coat of arms centered in the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms depicts a woman flanked on either side by a vertical column of six oil lamps above a scroll bearing the Latin word VIGILATE (Be Watchful); the islands were named by COLUMBUS in 1493 in honor of Saint Ursula and her 11 virgin followers (some sources say 11,000) who reputedly were martyred by the Huns in the 4th or 5th century; the figure on the banner holding a lamp represents the saint; the other lamps symbolize her followers
National symbol(s)zenaida dove, white cedar flower; national colors: yellow, green, red, white, blue
National anthem
note: as a territory of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)