When Columbus first stumbled upon the British Virgin Islands in 1493, he was intrigued by the abundance of small land masses clustered together and named them after Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. One of these included the island of Tortola. Although the Spanish discovered the island they did not spend much time there and soon left to explore other lands.
Many pirates took a strong liking to the secluded reefs and hidden coves scattered around the island. They used these natural hiding spots to wait for treasure ships to pass and then plunder them for gold. Along with pirates there was also a very prevalent slave population that worked the sugar plantations of Tortola.
In 1774 the island was officially settled by the British and Dutch who continued to use the land for sugar crops until the abolishment of slavery in 1838. Like many of the British Virgin Island, the economy began to fall apart after the end of the slave trade and many settlers left the island in search of better opportunity. Although many of the British and Danish left, Britain and Tortola maintained a relationship over the years and are still in control of the island today.
Today Tortola has regained economic stability through offshore banking as well as a steady flow of tourism. The island has remained as tranquil and majestic as the day it was discovered by Columbus and will continue to do so as its beauty is forever preserved in time. Visitors will be blown away by the integration of historic beauty with the newly built luxury homes that are spread throughout the hillsides of Tortola. The wonderful resorts and vacation homes leave this island unspoiled and intact.
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