British Virgin Islands
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The US dollar is the local currency.

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Area: 59 square miles of landmass.

Language: English.

Population: 15,000 of which 2,300 live in the capital city of Road Town, Tortola.

Time Zone: One hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens need an authenticated birth certificate and government-issued photo ID. Passports are required of everyone else.

Currency: The U.S. dollar is the official currency. Major credit cards are accepted in many places, but not personal checks. Banks are open 9-3 Monday through Thursday, from 9-5 on Friday.

Taxes & Tipping: A 7% hotel tax and 10% service charge. The departure tax is US$10 by air, US$5 by sea.

Electrical Current: Deferring to its largely American clientele, the electrical current is 110 volts, 60 cycles, not the expected 220 volts.

Getting There: American Eagle (800/433-7300) flies several times daily from San Juan into Beef Island, a few minutes' drive from Road Town in Tortola.

You also can fly into St. Thomas , then reach the main island of Tortola by inter-island ferry from Charlotte Amalie, about a 45-minute trip through Drake's Channel.

Boats include Native Son (284/495-4617) and Smith's Ferry Service (284/495-4495). Ferryboats from Tortola make daily trips to Virgin Gorda, the only other major island in the British Virgin Island chain. Peter Island, a privately owned resort, has its own ferry.

Getting Around: Rental cars are readily available, about $35 per day. A temporary driver's permit is also mandatory.

Where to Stay: Most are clustered at Tortola and Virgin Gorda. To visit as many landfalls as possible, you may wish to charter a sailboat with crew, or captain your own boat (but you must have the necessary experience). Approximately 1,000 sailboat rentals are available from several different companies. Most boats carry only 4 to 6 persons.

Hiking/Walking Services: Not really needed in the British Virgin Islands because hikes are short and everything is so well-marked. If you want a local guide to explain the history and flora, contact The National Park Trust, Administration Bldg., Road Town, Tortola. BVI; 284/494-3904. They do not offer tours themselves but should be able to recommend someone.

Safety/Health Warnings: None. One of the Caribbean 's safest regions.

Snakes & Other Venomous Creatures: None.

For More Information: Web sites: www.britishvirginislands.com and

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