Those who live on the West Coast often think of Bermuda as a Caribbean Island when in fact this British territory is located in the North Atlantic Ocean east of North Carolina by approximately 640 miles. The capital city is Hamilton, discovered in 1505 by Spanish navigator Juan de Bermudez, after whom the islands were named. Unoccupied, the island was settled by England in 1609, making it the oldest remaining British overseas territory. Its first capital, St. George, was established in 1612 and is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the Americas.
Although usually referred to as a singular island, the territory actually consists of 181 islands, with a total area of 20.6 square miles.
Although Bermuda’s latitude is similar to that of Savannah, Georgia, it is warmer in the winter and slightly cooler in the summer. Its humid subtropical climate is warmed by the nearby Gulf Stream. Summer time heat can be high, even though mid-August temperatures rarely exceed 86 degrees. Winters are mild, with average daytime temperatures in January and February around 68 degrees. Atlantic winter storms can produce powerful, gusting winds and heavy rain; however temperatures rarely drop below 50 degrees.
In 1620, a Royal Assent granted Bermuda limited self-governance, thus making the Parliament of Bermuda the fifth oldest in the world, behind the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Tynwald of the Isle of Man, the Althing of Iceland and Sejm of the Republic of Poland. Of these, Bermuda is the only one to have met continuously as a legislature since its inception through today.
Since switching from the Bermudian pound in 1970, Bermuda’s currency is the Bermudian dollar which is pegged to the US dollar. US notes and coins are used interchangeably with Bermudian notes and coins within the islands.
Bermuda's per capita income is approximately 20% higher than that of the United States; according to the Bermuda Government's Economic Statistics Division. Bermuda’s GDP was 5.85 billion in 2007, or $91,477 per capita, giving Bermuda the highest GDP per capita in the world. According to Bermuda Stock Exchange in 2009 Bermuda had a high per capita income of over $97,000 yet the median per capita income is much lower as these statistics represent a small number of high earners.
Bermuda's culture is a mixture of the various sources of its population, though little trace remains of the various African slaves, Spanish-Caribbean, Irish, or Scots cultures evident in the 17th century, with the Anglo-Saxon culture becoming dominant. Today, the only language other than English that is spoken by any substantial part of the population is Portuguese, following one hundred and sixty years of immigration from Portuguese Atlantic islands, primarily the Azores. There are strong British influences, together with Afro-Caribbean. An infusion of West Indians has accelerated social and political change, and diversified Bermuda's culture. West Indian musicians introduced Calypso music when Bermuda's tourist industry was expanded with the increase of visitors brought by post Second World War aviation. While Calypso music appealed more to the visitors than to the locals. Reggae music has been embraced since the 1970s with the influx of Jamaican immigration.
Every year in March Bermuda hosts an international film festival, which shows many independent films. One of the festival's founders is film producer and director Arthur Rankin, Jr., co-founder of the Rankin/Bass production company.
Every Good Friday, Bermudians of all ages build kites, usually of a traditional Bermudian type, which are flown to symbolise Christ's ascent. A Bermudian kite is made to geometric designs, quite colourful, and is an art form as much as a recreational tool. Despite this, Bermudian kites are very airworthy, holding world records for altitude and duration of flight.
A variety of sports activities are a popular pastime in Bermuda, especially cricket, football, sailing, golf and rugby.
Bermuda water colours painted by local artists are sold at various galleries and elaborately hand-carved cedar sculptures are another speciality. A sculpture created by Bermudian artisan Chesley Trott is on display at the airport's baggage claim area. Local artwork may also be viewed at several galleries around the island. Alfred Birdsey was one of the more famous and talented water colourists, his impressionistic landscapes of sailboats, homes, and bays of Bermuda are world-renowned.
Bermuda’s national cricket team participated in the Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies. Bermuda's team holds the world record for conceding the highest number of runs ever in the history of theWorld Cup
Bermuda has large numer of golf courses. In 2007 Bermuda hosted the 25th PGA Grand Slam of Golf. This 36-hole event was held on 16–17 October 2007, at the Mid Ocean Club in Tucker's Town. This season ending tournament is between only four golfers – the winners of the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. The event returned to Bermuda again in 2008 and 2009.
Sailing, fishing and equestrian sports are popular with both residents and visitors alike. At the 2004 Summer Olympics, Bermuda competed in sailing, athletics, swimming, diving, triathlon and equestrian events. In those Olympics, Bermuda's Katura Horton-Perinchief made history by becoming the first black female diver to compete in the Olympic Games.
Bermuda can genuinely boast about their pink sandy beaches and clear, cerulean blue ocean waters are popular with tourists. In addition to its beaches, there are a number of sightseeing attractions including Historic St George's which is a designated World Heritage Site. Scuba divers can explore numerous wrecks and coral reefs in relatively shallow water (typically 30–40 feet) with virtually unlimited visibility. Many nearby reefs are readily accessible from shore by those who love to snorkel, especially at Church Bay.
Bermuda's most popular visitor attraction is the Royal Naval Dockyard, including the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Other attractions include the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo,Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, the Botanical Gardens, lighthouses, and the Crystal Caves with its impressive stalactites and underground saltwater pools.
It is not possible to rent a car on the island; however, visitors can hire scooters for use as private transport, or use public transport.
Enjoying a vacation in Bermuda can be designed in many ways. Beginning in May cruises depart from the New York and range in duration from five to nine nights, operated by several of the major cruise lines including Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Silversea Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas which sails round trip from Florida on a wonderful 11-night itinerary!
If you enjoy golfing, cycling or sailing and prefer a vacation on land, the resorts in Bermuda are wonderful. The beautiful Fairmont Southampton is a luxury resort perched on the islands highest point nearly surrounded by the ocean and bay. Or experience Rosewood Tucker’s Point surrounded by 200 acres of the most beautiful waterfont property in Bermuda. It’s neighbors are the Estates of Tucker’s Town offering beautidul vistas fo Castle Harbour, Harrington Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
The popular Bermuda Shorts, that are up to the knee length and are often treated as casuals elsewhere in the world, are considered quite reserved clothing and even as a formal attire in Bermuda.