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Bermudas

Bermudas, or Somers Islands, a group of small islands in the possession of Great Britain, are situated in the Atlantic Ocean in lat. 32 20' N., and long. 64 50' W. They are named from Juan Bermudez, a Spaniard, who discovered them in 1522, and from Sir George Somers, an Englishman, who was wrecked here in 1609 and established a settlement. Their number is given as being between four and five hundred, yet so small are they that they cover an area of only about 12,000 acres. The largest is Great Bermuda, or Long Island, the chief town of which, Hamilton, is the governor's seat and a military station. Other of the islands are named St. George's - whose harbour is sufficiently commodious to shelter the whole British Navy, and where is situated the chief military station - Paget's, Smith's, St. David's, Cooper's, Nonsuch, Longbird, etc. The Bermudas were long considered unhealthy, a reputation that is not consistent with their low death rate. Their chief drawback is the want of fresh water, the islanders having to depend upon the rain for their supplies of this necessary. The air is always moist, and the vegetation ever green. The chief products are potatoes, onions, tomatoes, arrowroot, bananas, which articles are exported chiefly to New York, between which and the islands regular steam communication is maintained. Oranges and medicinal plants, like the aloe, jalap, and castor oil plant, also grow. The government of the islands comprises a governor, appointed by the Crown, a privy council of nine appointed by the governor, and an assembly of thirty-six paid members. There are plenty of schools, free and private, and, besides the Church of England, the Presbyterian, Wesleyan, and Roman Catholic denominations are represented. Here Bishop Berkeley (q.v.) settled in 1726 to carry out his mission of christianising the American Indians.

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