In total, Bermuda is home to about 64,000 people, 65% of them black and almost all of them happy. There is also a large Portuguese population. Despite its isolation, lack of manufacturing industry and a cost of living that ranks among the highest in the world, Bermuda has almost no poverty or unemployment. No income tax is levied, nor does the government receive any foreign aid. More than 95% of the population is literate, with education free and compulsory between the ages of five and 16.
In an average year, about 600,000 tourists – largely from the US and Canada – visit the islands. The money they spend accounts for about 40% of the colony’s total income. As international insurance and investment companies contribute ever more significantly to the economy through their foreign exchange earnings, tourism is becoming less important. Vegetables are still a key winter export, even though housing and industrial construction has significantly reduced farm acreage. Pharmaceuticals and extracted essences for perfumes are Bermuda’s major exports. What little industry the island has is dedicated to boat building, ship repairing and furniture making. Meat and most other foods are imported; there are few commercial fisheries.
Early in World War II, Bermuda became important as an outpost commanding Atlantic sea lanes. In 1940, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave Great Britain 50 destroyers in exchange for advanced bases. In 1941, the US took over, on a 99-year lease, 526 acres for a base on Great Sound at the western end of the islands.
Prior to World War II, one of Bermuda’s special charms was the absence of motor traffic. Motorized transport – both private and public – was banned and everyone traveled by bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, boat or railway. In 1946, however, the ban on private cars, buses, taxicabs and motorcycles was lifted and things began to move more quickly. Today, private cars are restricted to one per family and rental cars are still not available.
Life on the islands reflects Bermuda’s very British traditions. Islanders adhere to a fairly strict code of social conduct and recreation. British pubs are truly British, fish and chips are the same in Hamilton as they are in London, cricket is the national sport, and tea is served every afternoon at four o’clock. The Queen’s English is often spoken, especially by whites, with a clipped, upper-class accent more reminiscent of the quadrangles of Oxford and Cambridge than the subtropical island that is Bermuda.
Bermuda has always been an island of adventure. From the dawn of its history more than 380 years ago, explorers, castaways, rovers and opportunists have made for the islands.
Today’s adventurers – the outdoor enthusiast, skin diver,
angler, sailor, hiker, bird watcher or shopper – are looking
for something different.
Today, the adventurer is you.