Brief History

The Virgin Islands were discovered by Columbus in his second voyage, in 1494, and named Las Virgenes, in honor of St Ursula and her companions. In 1666 the British established themselves on Tortola, this was partly in an attempt to expel various Dutch backed Bucaneers who had used the port as a base - although piracy and bucaneers remained endemic around the islands for many more years to come. Tortola was annexed from the Leeward Islands in 1672 establishing formal colonial control. As the European demand for sugar soared, plantations were created to try and take advantage of the high demand. However despite slave labour being imported, the rough and mountainous conditions made cultivation difficult. A devastating hurricane in 1819 led to many sugar plantations closing down. The abolition of slavery would put the final nail into plantation life in the 1830s.

In 1872 the islands formally became part of the Colony of the Leeward Islands in which it remained until it was defederated in 1956. Thereafter, the British Virgin Islands became a separate colony. It was given an extended ministerial form of government in 1967, which was continued until a new constitution was established in 1977.

Imperial Flag
map of The British Virgin Islands
Map of British Virgin Islands
1775 Map of British Virgin Islands
Anegada 1832 Map
1835 Map of British Virgin Islands
1844 Map of Leeward Islands
1971 Map of Northern Lesser Antilles
Administrators of British Virgin Islands
Historical britishvirginislands
Images of British Virgin Islands
National Archive Virgin Island Images
Further Reading
Be Of Good Cheer: Service In War And Peace
by Gerald Bryan

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by Stephen Luscombe