Bermuda /bɜːrˈmjuːdə/ is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean, off the east shore of North America about 1,070 km (665 mi) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, 1,236 km (768 mi) south of Cape Sable Island, Canada, and 1,578 km (981 mi) north of San Juan, Puerto Rico and lies 1,544 km (959 mi) north of Road Town, British Virgin Islands. The island lies west-northwest of Cape Verde, southeast of New York City, New York, USA and north-northwest of Brazil, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana (France). The 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. Bermúdez never landed on the islands, but made two visits to the archipelago, of which he created a recognisable map. Shipwrecked Portuguese mariners are now thought to have been responsible for the 1543 inscription on 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 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 At that time, the company's charter was revoked, and the English Crown took over administration.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 transfer 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.
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