Introducing Virgin Islands
Where the Atlantic Ocean Meets the Caribbean Sea
The Virgin Islands are part of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles. Some of the Virgin Islands like Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada and about fifty smaller islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The islands that sit to the west, St John, St Croix, Water Island and St. Thomas are unincorporated territory of the United States.Columbus actually named the islands Las Virgenes when he found the Arawak, Cermic and Carib Indians living on the island in the 15th century. The original Indian population died from disease and the cruel labor practices that the European settlers brought with them when they colonized the islands. Today the population is a mixture of African slave descendants, European and American transplants.
The US Virgin Islands sit 90 miles east of Puerto Rico and a few miles west of the British Virgin Islands. The US Virgin Islands are known for their white sandy beaches, The Virgin Island National Park, The Virgin Island Coral Reef National Monument and Buck Island Reef National Monument, as well as the Salt River Bay National Historic Park and the Christiansted National Historic Site.
The US Virgin Islands are visited by over 2 million people a year, many of them come on cruise ships and spend the day shopping in duty-free shops and sightseeing. There are other industries like rum distilling, watch assembly and petroleum refining, but tourism is the largest industry. The islands are on Atlantic Standard Time, which is one hour ahead of US Eastern Time. The US Virgin Islands have a population of 108,000 and the British Virgin Islands have a population of 22,000 and 18,000 of them live on Tortola.
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are considered a tax haven, so they enjoy one of the most successful economies in the Caribbean region. Finance and tourism keeps the British Islands yearly per capita GDP at around $38,500. About 350,000 tourists visit the British Virgin Islands every year. The sandy white beaches, the Baths on Virgin Gorda and the coral reefs around Anegada, plus the popular bars on Jost Van Dyke make the BVI gems and they are one of the world’s best sailing destinations. There is a Spring Regatta every year, which is a seven day sailing adventure around all the islands.
The Virgin Islands in a Few Words
It’s hard to describe the Virgin Islands in a few words, because they offer so much island diversity, a rich culture and a fascinating history filled with pirates and ship battles.
The islands offer something for everyone, especially soft white beaches, unlimited sunshine and a plethora of water sports to excite you. Go to the Virgin Island to get away from deadlines, clocks and cell phones. Bask in the beauty of your own island paradise and let the world past you by. You know you’ll catch up with it at some point and when you do you’ll wish you were back on your special island, where time has no meaning.