- Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are an
archipelagoin the Leeward Islandsin the Caribbean Sea. The Leeward Islands are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilleschain of islands, where the Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. The southern part of the Lesser Antilles chain is called the Windward Islands. These islands are "leeward" because the prevailing winds in the area blow from the east, so the islands are downwind from, or in the lee of, leeward of, the southeasternmost Windward Islands, where the trade winds blow first.
The Virgin Islands are divided into two political entities; on the east,
Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and over fifty other smaller islands are administered as an overseas territoryof the United Kingdom; and in the west, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Water Islandare governed as the unincorporated territory of the United States. Christopher Columbusnamed the islands "Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes", shortened to "Las Vírgenes", after Saint Ursulaand her 11,000 virgins. They were inhabited by Arawak, Cariband Cermic Indians, all of whom died out during the colonial period from disease, harsh labor conditions, and murder.
Later, the islands were re-populated by British plantation owners, and enslaved Africans who worked on sugar plantations, and at least one tobacco
plantation. The sugar plantationsare gone, but the descendants of the Black slaves remain the bulk of the population, sharing a common Afro-Caribbean heritage with the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean.
Motor vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road on both the British and the U.S. Virgin Islands, although the steering wheels on most cars is located on the left side (as is the norm for drive-on-the-right localities). Also, the
United States dollaris the official currency on both the British and the U.S. Virgin Islands,
West of the Virgin Islands lie the islands of
Viequesand Culebra, Puerto Rico, U.S.A., that since a 1990s tourist campaign have re-christened themselves the Spanish Virgin Islands, though they are seldom so identified on maps and atlases. The 'Spanish Virgin Islands', or Passage Islands, are just east of Puerto Rico, and governed as part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Natives speak Spanish, and the culture is similar to Puerto Rico. Vieques and Culubra belonged to Spain prior to the Spanish-American Warin 1898. Though the islands are not labeled part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, some argue that Vieques and Culebra are geographically part of the Virgin Islands chain, and note that Vieques and Culebra are closer to St. Thomas, than St. Thomas is to St. Croix.
Culture of the Virgin Islands
Music of the Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands Creole
* [http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/ufdc/?h=uvi&n=dloc University of the Virgin Islands materials] in the [http://www.dloc.com Digital Library of the Caribbean]
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