British Virgin Islands is a British overseas territory in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is part of an volcanic archipelago collectively known as the Virgin Islands, which makes up the northeastern extremity of the Greater Antilles. The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico lie to the west. The British territory consists of 4 larger islands (Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke) and 32 smaller islands and islets, of which more than 20 are uninhabited. Some islands are privately owned and others, such as Salt, Cooper, Norman and Guana islands which are world-renowned for their excellent sailing and yachting and reef-lined beaches. The capital town and port is Road Town on Tortola (21 square miles) which is the largest of the islands. The rainforest-filled Sage Mountain National Park is also located on Tortola.
Although the British Virgin Islands have been inhabited since 1500 BC, their first officially documented residents were the Arawaks who came from South America around the year 100 BC. The Caribs displaced the Arawaks during the 15th century, not long before Christopher Columbus first spotted the Virgin Islands in 1493. Tortola was first settled in 1648 by Dutch buccaneers who held the island until it was taken over in 1666 by a group of English planters.
The British Overseas Territory Act (2002) changed the status of the colony to that of overseas territory and a new constitution in 2007 brought greater self-government to the islands.
Of Note: There is a popular area on Virgin Gorda known as The Baths. The batholiths were formed during the Tertiary period (65 million to 2.5 million years ago) by molten rock under immense pressure, seeping up into existing volcanic rock layers under a young Caribbean Sea. Now a popular picnic and tourist site.
Currency: United States Dollar
Culture Name: British Virgin Islander
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