History[edit | edit source]
The islands were named for Saint Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins by Christopher Columbus during his voyage of 1493–1496.
The islands consist of an archipelago on the northeast corner of the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico about 60 miles to the west, and Anguilla on the east. These islands are part of the much larger chain that helps separate the Caribbean Sea from the North Atlantic Ocean. The islands are divided into three main sections:
- British Virgin Islands : Tortola, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda
- Spanish Virgin Islands : Culebra, and Visques (part of Puerto Rico)
- U.S. Virgin Islands (known as the Danish Virgin Islands until their purchase in 1917) : St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas
From 1625 to 1680 the Dutch West India Company controlled several islands collectively known as the Dutch Virgin Islands. These included the islands of Anegada, St. Croix, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda.