British Virgin Islands History

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The British Virgin Islands, officially simply Virgin Islands, are a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. The British Virgin Islands were first settled by the Dutch in 1648 and taken over in 1666 by a group of English planters. In 1774 constitutional government was granted.The islands became a largely self-governing dependent territory of the United Kingdom in 1967.

The British Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, along with over 50 other smaller islands and cays. About 15 of the islands are inhabited. British Virgin Islanders are British Overseas Territories citizens and since 2002 are British citizens as well. Although the territory is not part of the European Union and not directly subject to EU law, British Virgin Islanders are deemed to be citizens of the EU by virtue of their British citizenship.


1648 - The Dutch established a permanent settlement on the island of Tortola
1672 - The English captured Tortola from the Dutch, and the English annexation of Anegada and Virgin Gorda followed in 1680
1672–1733 - The Danish gained control of the nearby islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix
1917 - The United States purchased St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix from Denmark, renaming them the United States Virgin Islands.
1960 - British Leeward Islands or with St. Kitts and Nevis islands gained separate colony status in 1960 and became autonomous in 1967
1967 - The islands became a largely self-governing dependent territory of the United Kingdom in 1967