The golden beaches shaded by palm trees and crystalline waters teeming with rainbow-hued sea creatures are undoubtedly the main attractions in both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Most visitors are more than happy to spend their mornings on the beach, their afternoons browsing the boutiques, and their evenings savoring a fresh-caught dinner. But the history of the Virgin Islands encompasses much more than the history of resort tourism. Like so many other islands in the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands were deeply involved in the colonial ambitions of Western Europe and the slave trade with North America. The following gives a peek at the cultural and historical influences coursing just beneath the surface of any modern-day escape to the Virgin Islands.

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