Bermuda was first settled in 1609 by shipwrecked English colonists headed for Virginia. Tourism to the island to escape North American winters first developed in Victorian times. Tourism continues to be important to the island's economy, although international business has overtaken it in recent years. Bermuda has developed into a highly successful offshore financial center. Although a referendum on independence from the UK was soundly defeated in 1995, the present government has reopened debate on the issue.
the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually appointed premier by the governor
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (11 seats; members appointed by the governor, the premier, and the opposition) and the House of Assembly (36 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve up to five-year terms)
last general election held on 18 December 2007 (next to be held not later than 2012)
percent of vote by party - PLP 52.5%, UBP 47.3%; seats by party - PLP 22, UBP 14
red, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Bermudian coat of arms (a white shield with a red lion standing on a green grassy field holding a scrolled shield showing the sinking of the ship Sea Venture off Bermuda in 1609) centered on the outer half of the flag; it was the shipwreck of the vessel, filled with English colonists originally bound for Virginia, that led to settling of Bermuda
note:the flag is unusual in that it is only British overseas territory that uses a red ensign, all others use blue
Bermuda enjoys the third highest per capita income in the world, more than 50% higher than that of the US; the average cost of a house by the mid-2000s exceeded $1,000,000. Its economy is primarily based on providing financial services for international business and luxury facilities for tourists. A number of reinsurance companies relocated to the island following the 11 September 2001 attacks and again after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 contributing to the expansion of an already robust international business sector. Bermuda's tourism industry - which derives over 80% of its visitors from the US - continues to struggle but remains the island's number two industry. Most capital equipment and food must be imported. Bermuda's industrial sector is largely focused on construction and agriculture is limited, with only 20% of the land being arable.
bulk carrier 22, chemical tanker 3, container 15, liquefied gas 38, passenger 26, passenger/cargo 6, petroleum tanker 20, refrigerated cargo 9
114 (China 13, France 1, Germany 15, Greece 2, Hong Kong 5, Ireland 2, Israel 3, Japan 2, Monaco 2, Nigeria 11, Norway 5, Sweden 17, UK 11, US 25)
registered in other countries:
180 (Bahamas 12, Cyprus 1, Greece 3, Hong Kong 12, Isle of Man 7, Liberia 4, Malta 8, Marshall Islands 34, Norway 5, Panama 15, Philippines 43, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Singapore 21, UK 9, US 5) (2010)