Bermuda

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Bermudian OleanderBermuda's size, relatively high-density population and half million visitors per year inevitably cause stress on the environment. Overfishing, for example, has devastated the island's commercial fishing possibilities. Fortunately increased environmental awareness and legislation have succeeded in protecting and re-introducing some species - notably turtles.

Bermuda enjoys a mild, agreeable climate because of the warming effects of the Gulf Stream. The average annual high temperature is 75°F (23°C), while the average annual low is 68°F (20°C). Humidity is high year round and rainfall is evenly distributed, with no identifiable wet season.

This frost-free climate means the island is abloom with colourful flowers like bougainvillea, hibiscus and oleander (which was brought to Bermuda in 1790 - the same year Hamilton was established).

The Bermuda Cedar, Juniperus Bermudiana, was driven to the brink of extinction in the 1940s by the introduction of two alien insects. After the blight, only one percent of the original forest was still standing. The near-extinction of the Bermuda cedar did drive two other species to extinction: a cicada and a moth that were dependent on Bermuda cedar forests.

Bermuda has no native land mammals; the endemic Bermuda rock lizard was the only nonmarine land animal on Bermuda prior to human contact. The island now has a variety of introduced lizards, a couple of types of whistling tree frog, and a giant toad mostly seen squashed on the road - hence its nickname 'road toad.'

Bermuda has the northernmost corals found in the Atlantic, and they attract a variety of colorful tropical creatures such as angelfish, triggerfish and the clown wrasse. Unfortunately, jellyfish-like Portuguese man-of-wars are also found in Bermuda's waters between March and July; a brush with one of these guys and you'll know the meaning of pain.