Following the devastations of hurricanes Irma and Maria a number of persons left the Territory, and it was announced that the BVI’s population decreased by a few thousands. Has the population returned to its pre-Irma figures or is there still a decrease? This is just one of the questions the 2020 census is expected to answer. Hopefully it will not take years before we get the figures.

Both Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie and Director of Central Statistics Raymond Phillips have on separate occasions announced that the next territory wide census will be taking place next year.

The Premier’s declaration of the census was made recently during the budget address that was presented on 19 November. In making the announcement the BVI Leader said, “In 2020 the Territory will be conducting a new census. This is a critical undertaking and I am using this opportunity to make a strong plea for the public to give its full cooperation to the Central Statistics Office and its team of census takers.”

Hon. Fahie noted the importance of the census and the gathering of new post Irma statistics. The Premier said, “As we reset the direction of this Territory following the 2017 devastations, we must become a data driven society and make plans and decisions based on solid information.”

The mention of the census was first made by Phillips last year during his appearance before the Standing Finance Committee. At that time, he announced that the population of the British Virgin Islands decreased by 4000 since the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. 

The Director of Central Statistics pointed out that prior to the hurricane the Territory’s population stood at 36,000. However, he said that since the passage of the hurricanes the population was reduced to 32,000.

Phillip explained that it was difficult to get critical data about the post disaster BVI because gathering such information required the conducting of household surveys. However, he explained that as a result of damages sustained most persons felt uncomfortable welcoming visitors; so it was decided that that the survey would be conducted in the last quarter of 2018.

The last census commenced in 2010, but the report was not laid on the table of the House of Assembly until 17 November, 2014. In that document it was stated that there were a total of 10,830 households and 28,054 persons residing in the Virgin Islands.

When disaggregated by island, the data showed that 83% of the population or 23,419 persons resided on the island of Tortola; 14 percent or 3,930 persons resided on Virgin Gorda; one percent or 285 persons resided on Anegada and one percent or 298 persons on the was island of Jost Van Dyke. The remaining islands and cays along with persons living on yachts accounted for 122 persons or less than one percent of the total population.