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Virgin Islands, British

(997 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background The British Virgin Islands, which form a British Overseas Territory, have been under British control since 1672. For the earlier part of the 20th century a unit (a “presidency”) of the Leeward Islands, the Islands became a separate colony in 1957. Formally the Virgin Islands, they are almost universally known as the British Virgin Islands (or “BVI”) to distinguish them from the adjacent US Virgin Islands. The population numbers about 30,000 of whom 85% live …

Jersey

(1,558 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background With Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey forms part of the Duchy of Normandy which has since 1066 been united with the English Crown. It is not part of the United Kingdom but a “Crown Dependency”; the British monarch is head of state as Duke of Normandy. The island of Jersey is the only inhabited island in the Bailiwick. Legislation passed by its parliament, the States of Jersey (presided over by the Bailiff), only comes into force when it is confirmed by a ro…

Isle of Man

(1,780 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background The Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency, the monarch of the United Kingdom being “Lord of Mann”. For a time part of Scotland, the Isle of Man came under the English Crown in 1399. It was granted to the Stanley family who ruled the island as Lords of Mann through governors, with a brief interruption during the English Civil War, until 1736 when the Lordship passed to the Dukes of Atholl. Eventually the UK Parliament passed the Isle of Man Purchase Act 1765, whi…

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

(662 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background Claimed by Argentina and known in Spanish as Las Islas Malvinas, and occupied at various times by British, French, Spanish, and Argentine settlers, the Falkland Islands has been under British control since 1834 and a colony since 1841. It was occupied by Argentina (along with South Georgia) for some three months in 1982. In a referendum in 2013, 99.8% of voters wished to remain a British territory; Argentina does not recognize the referendum as lawful. The 2012 census showed that the total usual resident population was 2,932 person…

Guernsey

(1,595 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background With Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey forms part of the Duchy of Normandy which has since 1066 been united with the English Crown. It is not part of the United Kingdom but a “Crown Dependency”; the British monarch is head of state as Duke of Normandy. The Bailiwick consists of the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, and Lihou. Legislation passed by the parliament of Guernsey, the States of Deliberation (presided over by the Bailiff), only com…

Akrotiri and Dhekelia

(845 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background Administered as a single British Overseas Territory, Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two “sovereign base areas” on the island of Cyprus retained by the United Kingdom when Cyprus gained independence in 1960. There are some 16,000 inhabitants, about half of whom are British military or air force personnel and their families. There is a system of courts but no legislature; Ordinances are made by the Administrator. Under Article 5 of the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrot…

Anguilla

(1,390 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background What is now the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla came under British control in the 17th century and British sovereignty was confirmed by the Treaty of Breda 1666 after a period of French occupation. Until 1969, Anguilla was always administered as part of another jurisdiction and in 1957 became part of the Associated State of St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla. Anguilla effectively withdrew from that State in 1969. The authority of the United Kingdom was re…

Pitcairn Islands

(428 words)

Author(s): David McClean
Pitcairn was settled by a group of mutineers led by Fletcher Christian against the commander of HMS Bounty in April 1789. Six mutineers, 11 women from Tahiti, and one baby formed the initial population. Pitcairn Island was declared a British Colony in 1838, and three uninhabited islands, Henderson, Oeno, and Ducie, were annexed in 1902. The entire population of Pitcairn moved to Norfolk Island in 1856, but 44 returned to renew the settlement on Pitcairn Island. Many of the islanders still bear t…

United Kingdom

(8,624 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Social Facts The United Kingdom comprises four distinct countries which differ in many respects, including religious history and allegiance. The Kingdom of England had at the time of the census taken in 2011 some 53 million inhabitants. The Principality of Wales had just over 3 million; although there has been since 1998 a Welsh Assembly with limited powers, England and Wales are often treated for statistical purposes as a single unit. The Kingdom of Scotland, with some 5 million people, has ret…

Montserrat

(1,346 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background Montserrat has been a British possession since 1632. It had a population of some 13,000 in 1994 but the island was devastated in July 1995 by an eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano. This destroyed the capital, Plymouth, and some 8,000 people left to the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the Caribbean. The larger part of the island remains an “exclusion zone” with entry prohibited because of the continued danger of volcanic activity. In 2008 the population w…

Cayman Islands

(1,235 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, became a British possession under the Treaty of Madrid of 1670. They were part of Jamaica until 1962 when Jamaica became independent and the Islands became a separate colony. In the 2010 census, they had a population of 56,700. The people are overwhelmingly Christian, only 5,005 declaring that they had no religion. The main churches are the Church of God (12,173 persons), the Roman Catholic Church (7,564), the Seventh-day Adventist Church (5,054), the …

Former British Dependencies (British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands)

(465 words)

Author(s): David McClean
Until 1962, there was a territory known as the Falkland Islands Dependencies; local legislation extended many provisions of the law of the Falkland Islands to the Dependencies. Since 1962, the Dependencies have been replaced by two separate territories, the British Antarctic Territory and the territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the existing law continuing to apply unless amended or repealed by local Ordinances. I. British Antarctic Territory This territory in Antarctica includes land also claimed by Argentina and Chile. It covers around 1,70…

Bermuda

(883 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background Originally established by a chartered company, Bermuda has been administered by the British Crown since 1684. In a referendum in 1995, 74% opposed independence. The census of 2010 reported a population of some 64,250, which means that Bermuda is the most populous of the British Overseas Territories. The population is very largely Christian, though 18.6% declared in the census that they had no religion. The Anglican Church is the largest (16.4% of the population) followed by the Roman Catholic Church (15.…

Turks and Caicos Islands

(770 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background The Turks and Caicos Islands lie to the southeast of the Bahamas. After a period of occupation by Bermudans, the islands were placed under the Bahamas but in 1848 became a separate colony or presidency under the oversight of the authorities in Jamaica. A separate colonial administration was abandoned in 1873 and from then until 1963 the Islands were governed from Jamaica, with various forms of local government. Since 1963 the Islands have again formed a sepa…

Saint Helena (Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha)

(1,092 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background English authority over Saint Helena dates from 1657 when a chartered company, the East India Company, was permitted to colonize and govern the island. A British garrison was on the island during the imprisonment of Napoleon I, but the company thereafter resumed sole responsibility. In 1834, under the Government of India Act 1833 of the United Kingdom, the island became a British crown colony. A British naval garrison was established on Ascension Island, 1,300 km northwest of Saint Helena, in 1815 (again as a result of t…

Gibraltar

(1,548 words)

Author(s): David McClean
I. Historical, Legal, and Social Background Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, has been a British possession since the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. British sovereignty is disputed by Spain, but a proposal for shared Anglo-Spanish sovereignty was rejected in a referendum in 2002, 98.48% voting against. Gibraltar is part of the European Union, so the anti-discrimination legislation of the EU is applicable in Gibraltar. The population was officially estimated as 29,752 in 2012. In the 2001 census, 78.1% of the population were Roman Catholics and 7% Anglican…

British Indian Ocean Territory

(309 words)

Author(s): David McClean
The Chagos Archipelago was ceded to the United Kingdom by France in 1814 and until 1965 was administered as part of Mauritius. In the latter year it was detached from Mauritius (then still a colony of the United Kingdom) and became a separate Territory. That was in preparation for the use of the main island, Diego Garcia, as a United States base. When the United States required the use of the base, the resident population was left without employment and departed to live in Mauritius. In later co…