A British Crown Colony since 1684, its population consists of 65,000 people who live on twenty of its around 360 islands. It boasts the oldest parliament in the New World, which dates back to 1620. Owing to its strategic location in the mid‐Atlantic, it served as a British naval base 1797–1957, while in 1941 the USA was granted a 99‐year lease on some islands for use as a naval and airforce base. Universal adult suffrage was introduced in 1944, and in 1968 Bermuda was granted self‐government. There were sporadic riots during the 1970s, when politics and society were dominated by the racial relations between its inhabitants, of whom 30 per cent are of White and 70 per cent of Black or mixed origin. A second crucial issue of greater permanence has been that of full independence. It is supported by the Black Progressive Labour Party (PLP) but rejected by the dominant multiracial United Bermuda Party (UBP), which emphasizes the cost of independence and the income generated through the British navy and British tourism. In a referendum of 16 August 1995, 74 per cent rejected independence. In the 1998 elections to the House of Assembly, the PLP gained a majority for the first time in its history. Led by Jennifer Smith (1998–2003), Alex Scott (2003–2006), and Ewart Brown, the PLP focused on improving the economy and improving social policy. The party thus attempted to position itself for the 2008 elections against a rejuvenated UBP led by Michael Dunkley.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).