Where are the British Virgin Islands and what is their relationship to the UK?

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is in the spotlight after its prime minister Andrew Fahie was arrested in Miami, Florida on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

Fahie, Oleanvine Maynard – who is the managing director of the British Virgin Islands Port Authority – and the latter’s son Kadeem Maynard were arrested on charges of conspiring to import more than 5 kg of cocaine into the US after allegedly being caught. in a police operation at the city’s airport by undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents posing as drug dealers.

The British Virgin Islands, situated east of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and north of Anguilla, is a British Overseas Territory, whose residents have been British citizens since 2002.

The island chain – whose largest landmasses are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke – is a parliamentary democracy, but its ultimate executive authority is its governor, appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British government.

Its defense and external affairs remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom.

Responding to Fahie’s detention, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was “shocked by these serious allegations” against the Virgin Islands Party leader and added that she and Rankin would hold an emergency meeting to “define the next steps”. ”. .

One such step will be the urgent publication of a recently completed report by the Commission of Inquiry into the way the territory is governed, she said.

The first European to set eyes on the Virgin Islands was the famous explorer Christopher Columbus in 1493 during his second voyage to the Americas, who named them after the Christian legend of Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins.

They were later claimed by Spanish settlers, before the Dutch built a permanent settlement at Tortola in 1648.

(British Virgin Islands government)

The island was conquered by the British in 1672, who later annexed Anegada and Virgin Gorda eight years later and turned the archipelago into a sugar cane-growing center, transporting African slaves to work on their plantations.

This practice lasted until the 1830s, when the abolition of slavery in the British Empire coincided with a series of devastating hurricanes that devastated the islands’ sugarcane fields.

The British Virgin Islands were previously administered with the British Leeward Islands or as part of a grouping with Saint Kitts and Nevis before gaining separate colony status in 1960 and becoming autonomous in 1967.

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