History of the British Virgin Islands
The history of the British Virgin Islands is a complex, remarkable tale involving pirates, slaves, and some confusion. How did the Islands become the British Virgin Islands?
Around 100 BC, the British Virgin Islands were inhabited by the Arawak Indians, who arrived from South America. Some historians claim that the Arawaks were preceded by the Ciboney Indians, settling in St. Thomas. In the 1400’s, the Caribs took over the islands, hence the name “Caribbean Sea.”
In 1493, Christopher Columbus spotted the British Virgin Islands. He christened the islands after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins. He named Virgin Gorda (the Fat Virgin) because he felt the island resembled an overweight woman in profile. The Spanish claimed the islands, but never actually settled there. The waters surrounding the islands may have been used for fishing during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, but it is unclear whether anyone actually traveled close to the British Virgin Islands or not.
The Islands were visited by numerous explorers, including Francis Drake, a young captain after whom the main channel in the BVI was named. In 1628, the Earl of Carlisle was granted a letter of the patent of Tortola as well as “all the Caribees.” His son later leased the lands to Lord Willoughby; however, neither ever made any attempt settle there.
By 1615, a Dutch pirate by the name of Joost van Dyk began expanding his permanent settlement on the island of Tortola. It is uncertain exactly when he first arrived, but he farmed the land for cotton and tobacco and traded with Puerto Rico. Van Dyk’s settlement was destroyed by a Spanish attack after he had given some assistance to the Dutch assault on San Juan, Puerto Rico. Van Dyk was able to escape unscathed. He hid out on the island of Jost Van Dyke, which was later named after the privateer.
The Dutch West India Company recognized the strategy behind the islands’ location and built several lookouts and forts for military use, including ones located where today’s Fort George, Fort Charlotte, and Fort Purcell stand. They also settled on Virgin Gorda to mine the copper that had been found there. The settlement was known as “Little Dyk’s” and is now called Little Dix. In 1640, 1646, and 1647, Spain attacked Tortola, massacring everyone in the main settlement. The Dutch West India Company eventually withdrew from its involvement with the Islands, instead of allowing private citizens to take over the task of settling the land.
By 1666, many of the Dutch settlers were leaving the island or being forced off of it by British pirates. The Third Anglo-Dutch war broke out in 1672, marking the start of British control of the territory. It is here that the history of the British Virgin Islands becomes complicated. While the Dutch claim that Tortola was placed under the protection of the British, the British state that the island was captured shortly after the declaration of war. There were much debate and confusion regarding the ownership of Tortola, but the island was eventually officially returned to the Dutch. However, as most of the Dutch settlers had already left the island, the British settlers remained.
Sir Peter van Bell from Margraviate of Brandenburg claimed to have purchased Tortola in 1696. The British did not want to give control of the island to Brandenburgers, who were only interested in using the islands as a slave trading outpost. The British again insisted that they had captured the island during the war, and they also believed that they first discovered it as well. The Islands were now officially, and without further discussion, part of Britain.
British Virgin Island Tortola:
Tortola is one of the many beautiful and enthralling British Virgin Islands that are naturally rich, therefore they are the hotspot for travelers to enjoy their vacation. Tortola is about 60 miles east of Puerto Rico West Indies. British Virgin Islands airport are easily accessible as there are many air flights via San Juan, or one can reach Tortola by a fifteen-mile ferry through St. Thomas. The round trip cost is around $50 for a single person. At the Conde Nash Traveler meet of 2006, Tortola was named as one of the top Ten Caribbean Island that is a unique place for the travelers to enjoy their holidays. British Virgin Islands are specially suited for romantic traveling. The 12 British Virgin Islands are well inhabited with villas, apartments, and resorts that can be chosen by the travelers who decide to have their best romantic vacation of their life.
Local people often refer British Virgin Islands as BVI. These are still an overseas territory of United Kingdom. Yet, the only currency that is used on BVI is American dollar. For most of the visitors, the island is a great place to enjoy sailing and parasailing. There are many options for travelers who are willing to enjoy sailing at BVI. Either one can charter a yacht with a proper crew that offers a great customer service or they can choose to attend a reliable teaching school that will let them learn the ways of sailing. The place is lush and green and inspires romance in every heart, hence BVI is a great place for newly married couples who are willing to enjoy the most romantic honeymoon a couple can have.
There are many high-class hotels at BVI that offer great customer services along with all facilities possible in a modern resort. Often these hotels offer services to arrange wedding parties. One can have a nice thematic wedding party at BVI in an easy manner. It is very easy and simple to arrange marriage license and the marriage certificate the couple will achieve will be acceptable and valid in the United States.
Get our free newsletter filled with more tips and information on travel destination and other very important information you will need for your vacation. You will also have the possibility to receive special offers in the travel and vacation genera