Meanwhile, over the period 1672–1733, the Danish gained control of the nearby islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix.
The British islands were considered principally a strategic possession, but were planted when economic conditions were particularly favourable. Croix from Denmark for US million, renaming them the United States Virgin Islands.
The official name of the territory is still simply the "Virgin Islands", but the prefix "British" is often used.
This is commonly believed to distinguish it from the neighbouring American territory which changed its name from the "Danish West Indies" to "Virgin Islands of the United States" in 1917.
The islands gained separate colony status in 1960 and became autonomous in 1967.
Since the 1960s, the islands have diversified away from their traditionally agriculture-based economy towards tourism and financial services, becoming one of the wealthiest areas in the Caribbean.
The British Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, along with over 50 other smaller islands and cays. The capital, Road Town, is on Tortola, the largest island, which is about 20 km (12 mi) long and 5 km (3 mi) wide.
Rainfall averages about 1,150 mm (45.3 in) per year, higher in the hills and lower on the coast.
, are a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, to the east of Puerto Rico.
The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.
Moreover, the territory's Constitutional Commission has expressed the view that "every effort should be made" to encourage the use of the name "Virgin Islands".
But various public and quasi public bodies continue to use the name "British Virgin Islands" or "BVI", including BVI Finance, BVI Electricity Corporation, BVI Tourist Board, BVI Athletic Association, BVI Bar Association and others.