Bermuda /b?r?mju?d?/, also referred to in legal documents as, fully, “the Bermudas or Somers Isles”,is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean, located off the east coast of North America. Its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, United States, about 1,030 kilometres (640 mi) to the west-northwest. It is about 1,239 kilometres (770 mi) south of Cape Sable Island, Canada, and 1,538 kilometres (956 mi) north of Puerto Rico. Its capital city is Hamilton.
The first known European explorer to reach Bermuda was Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermúdez in 1503, after whom the islands are named. He claimed the apparently uninhabited islands for the Spanish Empire. Paying two visits to the archipelago, Bermúdez never landed on the islands, but did create a recognisable map of the archipelago. Shipwrecked Portuguese mariners are now thought to have been responsible for the 1543 inscription in Portuguese Rock (previously called Spanish Rock).Subsequent Spanish or other European parties are believed to have released pigs there, which had become feral and abundant on the island by the time European settlement began. In 1609, the English Virginia Company, which had established Jamestown in Virginia (a term originally applied to all of the North American continent) two years earlier, permanently settled Bermuda in the aftermath of a hurricane, when the crew and passengers of the Sea Venture steered the ship onto the surrounding reef to prevent its sinking, then landed ashore.
The island was administered as an extension of Virginia by the Company until 1614. Its spin-off, the Somers Isles Company, took over in 1615 and managed the colony until 1684. At that time, the company’s charter was revoked, and the English Crown took over administration. The islands became a British colony following the 1707 unification of the parliaments of Scotland and England, which created the Kingdom of Great Britain. After 1949, when Newfoundland became part of Canada, Bermuda was automatically ranked as the oldest remaining British Overseas Territory. Since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, it is the most populous Territory. Its first capital, St. George’s, was established in 1612 and is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the New World.
Bermuda’s economy is based on offshore insurance and reinsurance, and tourism, the two largest economic sectors.Bermuda had one of the world’s highest GDP per capita for most of the 20th century and several years beyond. Recently, its economic status has been affected by the global recession. It has a subtropical climate.Bermuda is the northernmost point of the Bermuda Triangle, a region of sea in which, according to legend, a number of aircraft and surface vessels have disappeared under supposedly unexplained or mysterious circumstances. The island is in the hurricane belt and prone to severe weather. However, it is somewhat protected from the full force of a hurricane by the coral reef that surrounds the island.