Virgin Islands

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Virgin Islands
Waters Caribbean Sea
archipelago Lesser Antilles
Geographical location 18 ° 20 ′  N , 64 ° 45 ′  W Coordinates: 18 ° 20 ′  N , 64 ° 45 ′  W
Map of Virgin Islands
Total land area 653 km²
Residents 141,000
Political Virgin Islands: Spanish Virgin Islands (to Puerto Rico) US Virgin Islands British Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico (to USA)
The Virgin Islands with political affiliation:
  • Spanish Virgin Islands (to Puerto Rico )
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico (to USA )
  • The Virgin Islands (formerly also Virgin Islands ) are a group of islands in the Lesser Antilles between the Atlantic and the Caribbean .

    State affiliation

    Politically, the Virgin Islands are divided between the British Virgin Islands , the American Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands . The latter are administratively attached to the US American suburb of Puerto Rico and are therefore sometimes also referred to as the Puerto Rican Virgin Islands ; because of their location west of the Virgin Passage , they are also known as the Passage Islands .


    In the east, the Virgin Islands are separated from Anguilla and St. Martin and their side islands by the Anegada Passage, which is at least 80 kilometers wide . The closest island is Sombrero , which is politically part of Anguilla .

    In the southwest, the 21 km wide Pasaje de Vieques separates the island of Vieques from the main island of Puerto Rico.

    Pasaje de Vieques

    The seven larger and numerous smaller islands of the American and British Virgin Islands are located about 100 km east of Puerto Rico and nearly 200 km west of Anguilla . The two larger and many smaller islands of the Spanish Virgin Islands are only a few kilometers off the east coast of Puerto Rico, to which they administratively belong. Sometimes they are not counted among the Virgin Islands because, unlike the American and British Virgin Islands, they are west of the Virgin Passage. However, the Spanish Virgin Islands are closer to Saint Thomas , the main island (on which the capital is located) of the American Virgin Islands, than Saint Thomas to Saint Croix , the largest and most populous island in the American Virgin Islands.


    The first settlers of the islands belonged to the tribe of the Arawak counting Taíno and colonized the islands around 300 n. Chr. From South America. Around 1000 the Caribs invaded the islands. Christopher Columbus docked in the Virgin Islands on November 14, 1493 on his second voyage to the New World . He first named her "Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes" ( Saint Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins). The islands were taken over for the Spanish Crown, but not settled. In the travel report of Diego Alvarez Chanca, who was traveling along at the time, it says: “A whole group of islands rise from the sea, some densely forested, others quite rocky. Columbus calls the largest one, Santa Ursula, the other he names 'Las Once Mil Virgenes'. "

    Around 1600 Europeans from other nations penetrated the islands and used them as a base for piracy and smuggling, but also for attacks on the Spanish colonies of the Caribbean and Latin America. From this time onwards the indigenous population began to be exterminated by the colonizers and the diseases they brought in. Officially, the islands were owned by the English and Danish ( Danish West Indies ) in the 17th century , the islands of Tortola , Anegada and Virgin Gorda were temporarily owned by the Netherlands , but were annexed by the English in 1672 and form the British Virgin Islands today . Vieques and Culebra as well as their various smaller secondary islands east of the Virgin Passage remained in Spanish possession until the Spanish-American War . As a result of this war, the Spanish Virgin Islands became US territory together with Puerto Rico , which was administratively annexed to this in 1898 . Under the administrative auspices of D. Hamilton Jackson , the USA bought the Danish colonial property of the Virgin Islands in 1917 for 25 million dollars, which has since been a separate, unincorporated US American territory as the US Virgin Islands . Adjusted for inflation, the purchase price is equivalent to 498 million dollars or 420 million euros or 452 million Swiss francs.


    The majority of the residents - a mix of African and European groups - live on the main islands of St. John , St. Thomas and Saint Croix (all part of the US Virgin Islands). More people live on St. Croix alone (approx. 53,000) than on all of the Spanish (approx. 11,000) and British Virgin Islands (approx. 23,000) combined.


    The currency in all of the Virgin Islands is the US dollar .

    Tourism is the most important industry in the US Virgin Islands.

    The British Virgin Islands are different, as they mainly attract tax evaders . Because there are no taxes on profits or income. As a result, 430,000 letter box companies were registered there. The fees to be paid for this account for 60% of government revenue (as of 2015).


    Although vehicles on the entire Virgin Islands are usually left-hand drive, which is the norm for right - hand traffic, left-hand traffic prevails in the British and US Virgin Islands - and right- hand traffic in the Spanish Virgin Islands.


    • Markus Kappeler: British Virgin Islands . Groth AG, Unterägeri 1992. (published in the "Flags of the Nations" Stamp Collection)
    • Erik O. Pedersen (Ed.): A19th century diplomat at work. WR Raasloeff's letters to Gustavus Vasa Fox. 1866-1873 . Haag + Herchen, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-86137-573-7 .
    • Randall Peffer: Virgin Islands . Lonely Planet Publ., Melbourne 2001, ISBN 0-86442-735-2 .
    • Margot L. Philipp: The musical culture of the Virgin Islands. Studies on their development and on the results of acculturation problems . Self-published, Ludwigsburg 1990, ISBN 3-9801870-0-4 . (also dissertation, University of Cologne 186)
    • Douglas W. Rankin: Geology of St. John, US Virgin Islands. Denver, Colo. 2002, ISBN 0-607-98607-7 .
    • Friedrich Rose: Regional study of the Virgin Islands . Vogel publishing house, Leipzig 1930.

    See also

    Web links

    Commons : Virgin Islands  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. Christoph Rella: In the beginning was the fort, European fortification policy in Guinea and West India 1415-1815. Dissertation. (PDF; 7.6 MB), p. 120 ff.
    2. Marcus Kappeler: British Virgin Islands. 1992.
    3. Roopnarine, Lomarsh. “MAROON RESISTANCE AND SETTLEMENT ON DANISH ST. CROIX. " Journal of Third World Studies, 2010, 27, 2, 89.
    4. Björn Finke: Trouble in Paradise. Diplomat Benito Wheatley must defend the Virgin Islands. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung of November 8, 2016, p. 15.