Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands are the eastern island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, which form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Politically, the eastern islands form the British Virgin Islands and the western ones form the United States Virgin Islands.

The British Virgin Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom comprising Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada to the northeast. The United States Virgin Islands is an unincorporated territory of the United States comprising St. Croix to the south, with St. John, St. Thomas, and Water Island. The Virgin Passage separates the U.S. Virgin Islands from the "Passage Islands" or sometimes called the Spanish Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra, which are the easternmost islands of Puerto Rico. The United States dollar is the official currency on both the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.

History

Christopher Columbus named the islands Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes, shortened to Las Vírgenes, after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. They were inhabited by the Arawak, Carib, and Cermic, all of whom perished during the colonial period, horrific enslavement, foreign diseases, and finally mass suicide.

European colonists later settled here and established sugar plantations, at least one tobacco plantation, and purchased slaves kidnapped from Africa. The plantations are gone, but the descendants of the slaves remain the bulk of the population, sharing a common African-Caribbean heritage with the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean.

In 1916 and 1917, Denmark and the U.S., respectively, ratified a treaty in which Denmark sold the Danish West Indies to the United States of America for $25 million in gold.

Name

The official name of the British Virgin Islands is simply the Virgin Islands, and the official name of the United States Virgin Islands is the Virgin Islands of the United States. In practice, the two island groups are almost universally referred to as the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands, to distinguish them from one another.

A 1990s tourist campaign re-christened the Passage Islands as the Spanish Virgin Islands,[citation needed] though they are seldom[clarification needed] identified as such on maps and atlases.[citation needed] They are part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, located east of the main island of Puerto Rico. However, they are geographically part of the Virgin Islands chain. They are closer to St. Thomas than St. Thomas is to St. Croix, which are both part of the United States Virgin Islands.

Traffic control

Motor vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road in both the British and the U.S. Virgin Islands, although the steering wheels on most cars are located on the left side (as is the norm for drive-on-the-right localities).

Climate

Virgin Islands is tropical

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