The British Virgin Islands comprise the main isles of Tortola and Virgin Gorda and around sixty smaller atolls including Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and the resort islands of Necker and Peter; which are all part of the Caribbean Leeward Islands. The BVI has some of the best known sailing waters in the World; attracting thousands of private yachts and boats who come to explore the secrets of the island chain. Gems such as Norman (the inspiration for the novel "Treasure Island") and Cooper are waiting to be explored.
The isles were discovered by Christopher Columbus on his 2nd voyage to the "New World" in 1493. Columbus did not drop anchor here, but sailed past and named them after Saint Ursula and her eleven thousand virgin followers. He sighted and named St Croix ("Santa Cruz"); Virgin Gorda, Tortola and Peter Island ("San Pedro").
Columbus was headed for Puerto Rico with 17 ships and over 1,000 men to establish a permanent settlement and convert the natives of Puerto Rico to Christianity. In the prior year, on his first voyage to the New World, he lost one of his ships and Columbus was forced to leave some of his crew behind on the isle of Hispaniola. When he returned on his second voyage, all the crew had been slaughtered by the native Caribs. The BVI were not settled until the Dutch established the first settlement on Tortola in 1662.