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Bermuda History

A Spanish navigator by the name of Juan de Bermudez discovered Bermuda in 1503. No settlement was established in Bermuda until the 1600’s, when a party of English colonist under the Mariner Sir George Somers sailed for Virginia and became shipwrecked on the island. Bermuda was then known as Somers Island. Shortly after the English settler’s arrival on the island did Bermuda start importing black slaves. Following the slave

importation, Portuguese laborers from the Madeira Islands were imported to Bermuda as well. In 1615 King James granted a charter to a new organization, known as the Bermuda Company, which ran the island until 1684. Representative government was introduced to Bermuda in 1620, and it became a self-governing colony.

During the early colony Bermuda was divided equally into one public territory, nowadays known as St. George. The colony at that time only grew one crop, tobacco. More Slaves from Africa were brought to Bermuda soon after the colony was established. Unlike the plantation-style slavery, the slaves in Bermuda were brought in for specialized labor, such as pearl diving and shipbuilding. The slave trade would be outlawed in Bermuda in 1807, and all slaves were freed in 1834. Today, about 60% of Bermudians are of African descent, and almost all Bermudians would be able to easily find ancestors and relatives of African descent.

During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Confederate blockade runners were based in the Bermudas. At the close of the Civil War some Americans, particularly Virginians, migrated here from the United States; the islands later received Boer prisoners, sent by the British government during the Boer War (1899-1902). During World War II, Bermuda became important as a military base because of its location in the Atlantic Ocean.

Bermuda during its later development stages became one of the most popular destinations for wealthy US, Canadian, and British tourist, as its tourism on the island began to flourish and thrive. Nowadays, Bermuda has prospered economically since World War II, developing into a highly successful offshore financial center. Tourism still remains important to Bermuda's economy, and is second behind international business in terms of economic importance to the island.

Visitors that arrive from the United States see similarities between native Bermudians and the British customs. Some of these similarities are playing cricket; driving on the left; and having Queen Elizabeth II on their banknotes. For British visitors, Bermuda seems more North American, since the currency is the dollar, television comes from the US. The culture and history of Bermuda is reflected back to it’s people, with a mix of heritage of African and European decent, Bermuda is home to beautiful people and customs.

More Information


Bermuda Travel Guides
 Frommer's Bermuda
 Lonely Planet Bermuda
 Let's Go Bermuda
 Fodors Bermuda