First inhabited by Arawak and later by Carib Indians, the Virgin
Islands were settled by the Dutch in 1648 and then annexed by the
English in 1672. The islands were part of the British colony of the
Leeward Islands from 1872-1960; they were granted autonomy in 1967. The
economy is closely tied to the larger and more populous US Virgin
Islands to the west; the US dollar is the legal currency. English is
the official language.