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British Virgin Islands Territory Day

by Vishal Kumar

British Virgin Islands Territory Day is celebrated on July 1 every year. The day is celebrated with speeches, musical programs, and festivals around the Island.

When is the Territory Day of British Virgin Island celebrated?

An overseas British territory, the British Virgin Islands celebrates Territory Day every year on July 1. Unlike other English-speaking countries in the Caribbean region, this day does not mark the attainment of political freedom from the United Kingdom. Instead on this day, the islanders celebrate the historic occasion of becoming a self-governing colony after the confederacy of Leeward Island was dissolved in 1956.

How is Territory Day celebrated?

Territory Day, which was known as Colony Day until 1978, celebrates the dissolution of the Leeward Island confederacy in 1956. It is an occasion for the islanders to celebrate their national pride, and to commemorate the moment when it carved its independent identity.

This day is a public holiday on the British Virgin Islands. It is marked by speeches, musical programs, and festivals around the Island.

What is the historic significance of Territory Day?

Territory Day holds a special significance for the people of British Virgin Island, as this day changed the constitutional status of the island from a presidency to a colony or a territory.

In 1493 on his second journey to America, Christopher Columbus discovered a group of islands that he named after Saint Ursula and her virgin followers, abridged to Las Virgenes or The Virgins. The ensuing years saw Dutch, English French, Spanish, and Danish endeavoring to etch their control over the Island. By 1672, the British managed to establish their domination on the main island of Tortola.

The British Virgin Islands became a part of Leeward Island in 1872 and was administered with Leeward Island through a federal system. However, the federation of Leeward Island was dissolved on July 1, 1956, and the colony or territory of British Virgin Island was born. It achieved colony status in 1960 and became autonomous in 1967. The subsequent legislative amendments allowed greater self-rule to the people of the British Virgin Islands.

Today, the islanders observe this day to mark the progression towards self-determination, and to celebrate economic and political achievements since their separation from Leeward Island.

What does the National Flag of the British Virgin Islands represent?

The present flag of the British Virgin Islands was adopted in 1956. Its design comprises of a canton (the upper left quarter) that features the Union flag or the Union Jack – the flag of the United Kingdom, set against the backdrop of a blue field. The right half of the flag known as the fly displays the coats of arms on which the image of St. Ursula (the saint after whom Columbus named the island) surrounded by twelve yellow lamps of her 11,000 virgin followers is depicted. Below this coat of arms is a spool with the motto “Vigilate,” which means “Be Watchful” in Latin. The red, white, and blue colors of the flag signify valor, peace, and justice respectively.

Who wrote the National Anthem of British Virgin Island?

Like many other commonwealth countries and British crown dependencies, the British Virgin Island uses the national anthem of the United Kingdom, “God Save the Queen”, or alternatively “God Save the King,” depending on the ruling monarch.

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