The Virgin Islands is a group of islands which forms the border of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Politically, the islands are broken up into two, with the northeastern islands belonging to Great Britain and the southwestern islands belonging to the United States. The British Virgin Islands consists of over 50 islands, the largest and most popular of which are Tortola and Virgin Gorda. The United States Virgin Islands include St Croix, St John, and St Thomas.
The Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus, who named the islands ater Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. The islands were initially inhabited by several groups of people including the Arawak, the Carib, and the Cermic. Shortly after colonization of the islands began, the native peopled died off because of disease, violence, and harsh conditions.
Eventually, the Virgin Islands were fully colonized by Europeans who used the land to set up sugar plantations and tobacco plantations. The Europeans brought slaves from Africa to the islands to work the plantations. Today, all of the plantations are gone and the land is largely populated by descendants of the slaves.
The United States gained partial control of the Virgin Islands when they purchased some of the islands from Denmark in 1917 for a price of $25 million. The United States currency is the official form of currency in both the British and US Virgin Islands. An estimated 108,000 people reside in the United States Virgin Islands while less than 25,000 reside in the British Virgin Islands.
Most of the Virgin Islands were produced by volcanoes which in turn have a hilly and rough terrain. Many of the islands located within the Virgin Islands are quite small and inhabited. The largest of the British Virgin Islands is Tortola, which is about 36 square miles. The US Virgin Islands consists of four main larger islands, which combine to about 133 square miles.
The Virgin Islands is a very popular vacation destination. This is largely due to the tropical weather which consistently runs an average high temperature of 86 to 89 degrees all year long. The Virgin Islands are well known for their white sand beaches and clear blue water. The most popular time to travel to the Virgin Islands is during the dry months which range from January through April.
Many visitors of the Virgin Islands come by boat through one of many Caribbean cruises. While those are excellent vacation options, there are many sites to be seen which require more than a one day stay. The Virgin Islands Coral Reef is quite popular for scuba divers. Other popular tourist attractions include the Virgin Islands National Park and the Salt River Bay National Historic Park.
A vacation in the Virgin Islands is also ideal because visitors can easily go in between islands. Because of their proximity, tourists can take a ferry between the islands which allows the tourists to easily see all of the islands.
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