This blog starts a weekly series of posts on getting to know the BVI. Why should you visit? Why should you invest in real estate in the British Virgin Islands? Why and how could you move to BVI? Over the next few weeks, we’ll try to give you the basic information and links to answer those questions.

Many thanks to Virgin Islands Tourism Information for resources.

Where are the British Virgin Islands? Comprised of 36 islands in the Caribbean (16 of which are inhabited), they lie about 80 kilo meters 960 miles) east of Puerto Rico, north of the Leeward Islands, and adjacent to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Principal islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke: Tortola, 54 square kilo meters (21 square miles); Anegada, 39 square kilo meters (15 square miles); Virgin Gorda, 21 square kilo meters (8 square miles) – total land area is 59 sq miles (153 sq km).

What currency is used in BVI? The U.S. dollar is the currency of the BVI. American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are accepted in most establishments, but not all. On all checks and traveler’s checks there is a 10 cent stamp duty.

What time zone does BVI use? BVI is in Atlantic Standard time, 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time, and does not observe daylight savings.

What languages are spoken in the BVI? The people of The British Virgin Islands have their roots in Africa, but their culture is firmly Caribbean. The families of many BVIslanders have been here for generations. But The BVI has also been infused with people from many other islands and countries, and whose presence has turned the islands into a Caribbean and global melting pot. English is the official language, and many Creole languages are spoken.

What medical services are available in BVI? According to Traveling & Living Overseas, There is only one hospital in the BVI and medical facilities are limited. Complex medical problems are frequently referred to hospitals in the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, or the mainland USA. The dengue mosquito is found in BVI, and there is no hyperbaric chamber there – patients requiring treatment for decompression illness are transferred to St John, US Virgin Islands.

What is the best time to visit the British Virgin Islands? The territory experiences a sub-tropical climate with a diurnal temperature range of 77-85 degrees F (25-29 degrees C). As a result of its position in the North East Trade Winds belt, temperature usually drops 10 degress F (6 degrees C) at night. The Trade Winds blow at a constant speed for most of the year except during the hurricane season, from June to September, when the territory is exposed to tropical storm force winds of up to 100 miles per hour (161 km per hour) or greater. The wettest months are from September to December with February to April, the driest.

Will my cell phone work in the BVI? Here’s advice from eHow: Make sure that your cell phone charger has the correct plug for the British Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands uses the same plugs as the United States. Utilize a transformer that can handle 115 volts, which is the voltage used in the British Virgin Islands, when charging your cell phone. Your cell phone will likely fry if you do not use the correct transformer. Speak to your cell phone provider to make sure that they offer phone coverage in the British Virgin Islands. You may need to purchase a SIM card. US cell phones usually work north of Tortola (especially on Jost Van Dyke), with at least reasonable roaming rates, due to the closeness to USVI cell towers on St. Thomas

Is there Internet service in BVI? BBW Exchange lists Wireless World as the i-net provider. There are WiFi hot spots. Visit Internet Access in the BVI.

You can see from these basic facts that the British Virgin Islands are modern islands ready for your visit. Check our blog next week for a post on the history of the BVI.