Bermuda is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, east of South Carolina. It consists of about 138 coral islands and islets with a total area of 53.3 square kilometres. Bermuda is Britain's oldest overseas territory, having first been settled in 1609 by shipwrecked English colonists headed for Virginia. The per capita income in Bermuda is the highest in the world, over 50% higher than that of the United States.
Bermuda's economy is primarily based on providing financial services for international business and luxury facilities for tourists. Bermuda has developed into a highly successful offshore financial centre, which is now its number one industry. A number of reinsurance companies relocated to the island following the September 11, 2001 attacks and again after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, contributing to the expansion of an already robust international business sector. Tourism to the island to escape North American winters first developed in Victorian times. Bermuda's tourism industry—which derives over 80% of its visitors from the United States—continues to struggle but remains important to the island's economy, being the island's number two industry.
Although a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom was soundly defeated in 1995, the present government has reopened debate on the issue.