The British Virgin Islands consist of 60 small islands and rocky outcrops on an underwater plateau of more than 2,000 km², with an average depth of 20 to 30 metres. Most of the islands are of volcanic origin with a rugged mountainous landscape, except the Anegada Island which is a flat island made up of limestone and coral.
The islands’ vegetation is predominantly made up of cacti, thickets and dry forests. There are also rain forests on the upper slopes of the larger islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda. The British Virgin Islands support approximately 45 plant species endemic to the Puerto Rican Bank. This includes single-island endemics such as the threatened Acacia anegadensis (Pokemeboy), Metastelma anegadense (in Anegada) and Calyptranthes kiaerskovii (in Virgin Gorda). One quarter of the 24 reptiles and amphibians are endemic, including the Anegada Ground Iguana (Cyclura pinguis), which is only found on Anegada.
The archipelago’s 380 km² of coral reefs range in size from small fragments of a few square metres to the Anegada reef which is made up of close to 77 km² of coral. The archipelago also has 580 hectares of mangroves (75% of them are found in Anegada Island), which protect the coasts from erosion and provide nurseries for the young fish, conches, urchins, rock lobsters and others. There are also sea grasses, sandy stretches, and sub-marine hills and vales. Read more