What comes to the mind when you hear words like The Jewel of the Atlantic, the Bermuda Triangle and Bermuda shorts? It is the Bermuda Islands. Also referred to as Bermudas or Somers Isles, it was ranked as the oldest remaining British Overseas Territory after 1949. In 1503, a Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermudez sailed in the high seas and reached an Archipelago or group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean which were surrounded by coral reefs and full of nature’s bounty. But Juan de Bermudez could not set foot on its shores out of the fear of reefs and finally it were the British who settled here first in 1612. A combination of pink sand beaches and a blend of the British and American cultures, Bermuda is indeed a picture of incredible beauty bestowed by nature. The Bermuda islands form one of the vertices of the mysterious Bermuda triangle or the Devils triangle. Let us learn more about Bermuda.
Where is it located?
Located in North America, Bermuda is a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, to the east of South Carolina (US). Surrounded by water on all sides, it lies between 32°30’N latitude and 64°47’W longitude. It lies to the north of Puerto Rico and borders around 1,770 km to the north east of Miami, Florida and 1,350 km south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Covering an area of about 54 sq. km, it ranks 232nd in the world. It stretches a coastline of about 103 km and is about one–third the size of Washington, DC. The city of Hamilton is the capital city of Bermuda. In addition to having two names, Bermuda Islands and Somers of Isles, they are also sometimes known as La Garza, Virgineola and Devil’s Isles.
How is its topography and climatic conditions?
Bermuda enjoys a subtropical humid climate. The warm Gulf Stream and the westerlies carry warm humid air eastwards towards Bermuda and as a result, the winters are mild and summers are hot. The cold Arctic breeze causes temperatures to drop and the Atlantic winter storms produce powerful, gusty winds and heavy rains. The islands lie in the hurricane belt and were slashed by hurricane Ganzalo in 2014 and hurricane Fabian in 2003.The only source of fresh water here is rainfall. The terrain of Bermuda is comprised of several islands along with low lying hills separated by fertile depressions.
What is its flora and fauna like?
When the island of Bermuda was discovered, its landscape was mostly dominated by Bermuda cedar and mangrove marshes along its shores. Early settlers to the island planted a wide variety of palm trees whereas the coconut trees grew naturally on the island. There are nearly 1000 types of large and long vascular trees out of which, only 165 are native to this region. The fauna includes about five species of the mammal Bat and the other is the national bird, Bermuda petrel or cahow. The Bermuda rock skink or rock lizard and diamond back terrapin (turtle) are also found on this island.
What is its overall culture?
The Bermudian culture is a unique mix of the British and the American cultures. Since there were no original inhabitants found on these islands, the culture and traditions of the settlers from Britain and America were adopted. As black slaves were brought to work on the island, slowly their population increased and today the Blacks dominate its culture and traditions. The very popular Gombey dance is performed on all festivals and accompanied by drum beats of the African origin. Another ethnic group of American Indians called Mohicans who call themselves ‘Mohawk’ also retain their unique cultural identity on the island. The popular Bermuda shorts are worn as formal dress along with jacket, knee length socks and a tie. Bermuda has a uniformly high standard of living, with very little poverty. During marriages, large receptions are followed by religious ceremonies, one of which include a traditional three–tiered cake, one layer for the bride, the other for the groom and one served to the guests. Etiquettes such as politeness are highly valued in Bermuda with a degree of formality in their social interactions.
Which are the religions followed and languages spoken in Bermuda?
Nearly 46% of the Bermudians are Protestants (which includes Anglicans, African Methodist Episcopal, 7th Day Adventist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Baptists, Salvation Army, Brethren, Presbyterian and other Protestant groups) followed by few minority groups of Roman Catholics, Jehovah’s witness , other Christians , Muslims, and about 17.8 % are unspecified. English is the official language spoken by Bermudians and Portuguese is the second language spoken by many.
What are their food habits?
Every day meal in Bermuda is identical to that of the American diet but most of its traditional dishes are a mix of the British, the American and West Indies cuisine. Easy availability of sea food made fish an essential part of all local dishes. One of the popular and traditional dish ‘Chowder’ is made from leftover fish flavoured with hot pepper sauce and rum. Fritters are made from conch, which are now a protected species. A very popular dish called Hoppin John is made from rice and beans or chick peas and is served along with Johnnycakes, which are pancakes made from cornmeal. Rum is a very popular drink along with a local brand called Black Seal, which is mixed with ginger beer and is called the Dark Storm.
What are its economic features?
Being a small–sized island, Bermuda does not have farming and agriculture as its major source of income or exports. It has large imports due to limited manufacturing activity. The agricultural products include bananas, vegetables, citrus, flowers, dairy products and honey. Industries that contribute to its development are international business, tourism and light manufacturing. Export may include mainly the re–export of pharmaceuticals to Indonesia and US. Import commodities are clothing, fuel, machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, chemicals, food and live animals from Germany, South Korea, US, Singapore and China. Tourism and offshore insurance companies are the two main income generating areas for this island.