International Business and Tourism serve as Bermuda’s largest two industry sectors. As one of the world’s leading International Financial Centres (IFCs), Bermuda is renowned for it’s (re)insurance industry. Bermuda also offers a range of banking and investment services. The second largest industry is Tourism which attracts over 500,000 visitors annually, the majority of visitors hailing from North America. In 2012, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) equalled US$5.5Billion. GDP per capita measured US$84,381 per person.
Bermuda is Britain’s largest and oldest remaining Overseas Territory, its external affairs are represented by the UK and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State. Internally Bermuda is self-governing and has the most constitutional autonomy of all the Overseas Territories. The head of Government is the Premier, who nominates a Cabinet that is appointed officially by the Governor. The Legislative branch consists of a bicameral Parliament modelled after the UK’s Westminster system. Parliament has two chambers: the House of Assembly (the ‘Lower House’ of 36 elected members) and the Senate (the ‘Upper House’ of appointed members).
Bermuda was initially discovered by the Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermudez in 1505. It is from him that Bermuda derives its name. Despite its strategic location, Bermudez did not claim the island for the Spanish. Instead Bermuda only served as a landmark for sailors, helping them to navigate their way on their exploits. By the early 17th century the English had begun to set up colonies in the New World, and it was during a voyage to the Jamestown Virginia colony that Bermuda became inhabited. Sir George Somers, Admiral of the fleet of ships transporting colonists and supplies to Jamestown, set sail aboard the Sea Venture on June 2nd, 1609. The Sea Venture was the new flagship for the Virginia Company and was leading a fleet of nine vessels, fully equipped with supplies for the settlers in Jamestown.
While caught in a hurricane, The Sea Venture became lodged in the eastern reefs of Bermuda 700 miles away from the intended destination. This shipwreck, while devastating, was the beginning of an incredible journey that would forever change the destiny of Bermuda. It is widely believed the story of The Sea Venture’s shipwreck provided inspiration for William Shakespeare to pen “The Tempest”.