Saturday, April 08, 2006

The BVI population and housing census

We already know that BVI is really a big player in offshore industry and a very quick advance has occurred in last 20+ years since the British Virgin Islands IBC legislation was implemented in 1984 by adoption of the International Business Companies Act, 1984. What’s about its population both in absolute numbers and dynamics?

The census was conducted in the BVI in 2001, but the summary of the population and housing census was published on March 28, 2006. At the time of the 2001, the population of the British Virgin Islands was at just over 23 thousand.

To conduct the census, numerous radio and newspaper advertisements informed the public about the census and its benefits. The exercise began in May 2001 and ended in October 2001.
What this document gives us is a comparative breakdown of essential demographic and economic changes in the British Virgin Islands from 1946 up to 2001.Then, it reports on changes in population size and growth, migration patterns and fertility rates. The document is a sufficient base for long-term predictions based by means of analysing existing trends.
The population and housing census says that 23,161 people were living in the BVI in 2001, and 16,115 people were living in 1991 – so the increase is 43.7%. It also shows there has been an annual percentage growth of 3.6% in the population of the British Virgin Islands from 1991 to 2001, which is a high rate. As to the predictions of the 2001 population and housing census, it is noted that if population continues to grow at the same rate, it will double in just 19 years. The census also analyses changes in the BVI migration rate in 2001 as compared with 1946 when the outward migration of people was encouraged by the prevailing economic circumstances. Starting from 70-ies high and active migrants coming to the BVI became the main resource for the BVI population growth. The census states that besides the USA, "the BVI is one of the few countries where the number of foreigners outnumbers the number of natives". 39.7% of the population was born in the BVI, 60.3% - elsewhere. As to the decreasing rates, the population and housing census reports that fertility levels in the BVI were lower in 2001 than in 1946.

It is quite interesting that the country with only 23 thousand population has provided home for almost 700,000 offshore IBCs. This makes 30 offshore companies per each person living on the British Virgin Islands. I guess there are offshore jurisdictions where this proportion is even more surprising, but if we take into account only the biggest players in offshore industry, I think the British Virgin Islands is on the top.

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