HistorySee also: Dutch Virgin Islands
Europeans began making their mark in Tortola history after 1493, when Christopher Columbus spotted what are now called the British and US Virgin Islands and named them after the 11,000 virgins of the 4th-century martyr St. Ursula. The Spanish made a few attempts to settle the area, but pirates such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd were the first permanent inhabitants of the island.
In the 17th century, the English, who had successfully usurped control of the area from the Dutch, established a permanent plantation colony on Tortola and the surrounding islands. The sugar cane industry, dependent on the slave labor of Africans transported from the continent, dominated Tortola history over the next 150 years. It diminished in the mid-19th century after the abolition of slavery. A large proportion of the white landowning population left the British Virgin Islands during the economic downturn, but the political relationship between the island and the British continued and has been maintained.
In the late 1960s, the British businessman Ken Bates attempted to purchase the island on a 199-year lease, but this was blocked after a protest movement led by islander Noel Lloyd forced the local government to drop the plan. Today, a park on Tortola is named after Noel Lloyd and features a statue in his honour.
Read more about this topic: Tortola
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