Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands are an archipelago in the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. The Leeward Islands are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain 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 territory of the United Kingdom; and in the west, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Water Island are governed as the unincorporated territory of the United States.

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 Arawak, Carib and 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 plantations are 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 dollar is the official currency on both the British and the U.S. Virgin Islands,

West of the Virgin Islands lie the islands of Vieques and 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 War in 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.

ee also

*Culture of the Virgin Islands
*Music of the Virgin Islands
*Virgin Islands Creole

External links

* [ University of the Virgin Islands materials] in the [ Digital Library of the Caribbean]

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  • VIRGIN ISLANDS — VIRGIN ISLANDS, archipelago in the West Indies. In the late 20th century there was a total population of over 100,000 in the Virgin Islands, which included about 300 Jews. On any given Sabbath they would be joined by tourists visiting the island …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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  • Virgin Islands — a group of islands in the West Indies, E of Puerto Rico: comprises the Virgin Islands of the United States and the British Virgin Islands. Abbr.: V.I., VI * * * Virgin Islands Introduction Virgin Islands Background: During the 17th century, the… …   Universalium

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  • Virgin Islands — /vɜdʒən ˈaɪləndz/ (say verjuhn uyluhndz) plural noun 1. a group of islands in the West Indies east of Puerto Rico, forming the eastern extremity of the Greater Antilles. 2. a group of these islands forming an unincorporated territory of the… …  

  • Virgin Islands — Britische Jungferninseln Die Lage der Jungferninseln in der Karibik …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Virgin Islands — noun a group of islands in northeastern West Indies (east of Puerto Rico) discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493; owned by United States and Britain (Freq. 12) • Instance Hypernyms: ↑island • Part Holonyms: ↑West Indies, ↑the Indies • Part… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Virgin Islands — Sp Mergẽlių sãlos Ap Virgin Islands Sp Virdžinijos sãlos Ap Virgin Islands Sp Virginijos sãlos Ap Virgin Islands L salynas Antiluose (D. Britanijos ir JAV valdos) …   Pasaulio vietovardžiai. Internetinė duomenų bazė

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