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Bermuda
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 INFORMATION STATION
Facts at a GlanceEnvironmentEconomic Profile
Facts for the TravelerMoney & CostsWhen to Go

Facts at a Glance
 Full country name: Bermuda

Area: 21 sq miles

Population: 62,997

Capital city: Hamilton (pop 15,000)

People: 61% African descent, 38% Caucasian descent, a small minority of American Indian descent

Language: English

Religion: Christian (28% Anglican, 15% Roman Catholic)

Government: Self-governing British dependency

Premier: Jennifer Smith

Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II; represented by Governor Sir John Vereker


Environment
 

Bermuda is a subtropical island in the Atlantic Ocean, 570 nautical miles off the coast of North Carolina. It's more than 1000 miles north of the Caribbean, where most people mistakenly assume it to be. It comprises 150 small islands, which collectively total just 21 sq miles. The eight largest islands are connected by causeways and bridges to form a continuous fishhook-shaped land mass that stretches 22 miles in length and averages less than a mile across. Bermudians tend to treat these eight islands, which comprise 95% of the country's land mass, as a single geographic entity and commonly refer to it as simply 'the island.' Only about a dozen of the other islands are inhabited.

All the islands are volcanic in origin, the emerged tips of a volcanic mountain mass that rose from the sea floor several million years ago. They are surrounded by fringing coral reefs and have hilly interiors, though the highest peak is a mere 259 feet high. Bermuda's size, relatively high-density population and half million visitors per year inevitably cause stress on the environment. Overfishing, for example, has devastated the island's commercial fishing possibilities. Fortunately increased environmental awareness and legislation have succeeded in protecting and re-introducing some species - notably turtles.

Bermuda enjoys a mild, agreeable climate because of the warming effects of the Gulf Stream. The average annual high temperature is 75°F (23°C), while the average annual low is 68°F (20°C). Humidity is high year round and rainfall is evenly distributed, with no identifiable wet season.

This frost-free climate means the island is abloom with colourful flowers like bougainvillea, hibiscus and oleander. Bermuda has no native land mammals; the endemic Bermuda rock lizard was the only nonmarine land animal on Bermuda prior to human contact. The island now has a variety of introduced lizards, a couple of types of whistling tree frog, and a giant toad mostly seen squashed on the road - hence its nickname 'road toad.'

Bermuda has the northernmost corals found in the Atlantic, and they attract a variety of colorful tropical creatures such as angelfish, triggerfish and the clown wrasse. Unfortunately, jellyfish-like Portuguese man-of-wars are also found in Bermuda's waters between March and July; a brush with one of these guys and you'll know the meaning of pain.




Economic Profile
 GDP: US$1.98 billion

GDP per head: US$30,000

Inflation: 2.1%

Major industries: Tourism, finance, insurance, structural concrete products, paints, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, ship repairing

Major trading partners: USA, Canada & UK


Facts for the Traveler
 Visas: No visas are required for citizens of the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Western European countries. Visas are required by citizens of the former Soviet Union, most countries in North Africa and the Middle East, China, Sri Lanka and some former Soviet Bloc countries in Eastern Europe.

Health risks: Portuguese man-of-wars

Time: GMT/UTC minus four hours (one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time)

Electricity: 110V, 60Hz using a US flat, two-pronged plug

Weights & measures: Imperial

Tourism: 550,000 visitors per year


Money & Costs
 Currency:Bermuda dollar (although US dollars are widely accepted)
Relative Costs:
Meals

  • Budget: US$5-10
  • Mid-range: US$10-30
  • Top-end: US$30 and upwards




  • Lodging

  • Budget: US$100-150
  • Mid-range: US$150-200
  • Top-end: US$200 and upwards
  • There's no getting round the fact that Bermuda ain't cheap. Bermuda's high cost of living, the result of most goods having to be flown in from the US mainland, is reflected in hotel room rates and restaurant menu prices. Even grocery costs are 50% higher than in the USA.

    This is not the place to come if you're watching your budget, since you'll be hard-pressed to find a double room under US$100 and the average room price is almost double that. If you plan to stay seven days or less, it's worth looking into package deals that incorporate both airfare and hotel accommodation.

    The most convenient way to bring money is US dollar traveler's checks. Major credit cards are accepted by most shops and restaurants, but some smaller hotels and guesthouses can be fickle about accepting them. Bring some US dollars in cash as they are widely accepted as legal tender. The Bank of Bermuda has ATMs that accept various international ATM and credit cards.

    Hotels add a 7.5% occupancy tax to their bill. They also tend to add a 10% service charge to cover gratuities to hotel workers. The usual restaurant tip is 15%, which most establishments automatically add onto your bill. If they don't, then you should calculate the tip yourself. Taxi drivers will be pleased with a tip of around 10%.




    When to Go
     

    Bermuda can be visited year round, but the busiest tourist season is from April through October when the weather is warmest and water temperatures comfortable for swimming and diving. It's also the liveliest time on the island, with plenty of events and entertainment options to keep visitors amused.

    The winter season is a bit too cool for swimming, and many tourist-related agencies, like diving companies and boat tours, suspend operations for part of the season. January is the quietest month, so if you're more interested in tennis and golf or seeing the island when it's free of large numbers of tourists, this is the time to come.

    The advantage of visiting during the cooler months is that accommodation prices can be up to 40% lower and you can escape the colder winter of more northern climes. So-called 'snow birds' arriving from the US East Coast at the end of the 19th century originally made the winter months the high season in Bermuda. The best conditions for windsurfing also tend to be in winter.


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