A group of Caribbean islands at the eastern end of the Greater Antilles, divided between US and British administration. The islands were settled, mainly in the 17th century, by British and Danish sugar planters. The US islands include about 50 islands; population 109,800 (est. 2009); capital, Charlotte Amalie (on St. Thomas). They were purchased from Denmark in 1917 because of their strategic position. The British islands consist of about 40 islands in the northeastern part of the group; population 24,500 (est. 2009); capital, Road Town (on Tortola).
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Syllabification: Vir·gin Is·lands
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