Columbus discovered the Virgin Islands in 1493 on his second voyage to the New World. Seeing the numerous islands, he named them “ The Virgins” in honour of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins who, threatened by the marauding Huns in 4th century Cologne, sacrificed their lives rather than submit to a fate worse than death.
Later,the Spanish Crown determined that the land of Culebra was public property except for the areas reserved for use of the central government. When the Spanish American war was resolved in 1898 the land was turned over to the United States government with the promise that property titles given by the Spanish government would be honoured. Titled land would not be confiscated by the Military Government established in Puerto Rico. These agreements were reached in the Paris treaty and by general order number 1 of the United States of Puerto Rico’s Military Government.
In 1901 the US Military arrived in Culebra to establish an area for the military to use as a firing range and to hold marine exercises. At that time they took over the town of San Ildefonso and re-established the persons living in San Ildefonso to other areas of the island. This was in violation of the Paris agreements. Two remaining stone houses built by the military in the area of the Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife are witness to that era. There is a museum in the house marked 1908.
The military stopped using Culebra as a bombing range in 1975. However, the destruction to the reefs and the psyches of the inhabitants will take decades to heal. Rusting tanks on Flamenco beach bear witness.
The are a number of small island and Cays west of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which embrace 400 sq./mi., they became known as the Spanish Virgin Islands. The two largest are Vieques and Culebra. Both, great diving and sailing hotspots. Ashore, the Spanish Virgins offer immersion in the Spanish Caribbean with the escape claim of bilingualism. This is part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and a U.S. territory.
The people here, and everywhere we have travelled in P.R. have been extremely helpful and friendly. We have been given rides by people when out walking around looking for a location. When we got lost trying to find our way out of downtown San Juan late at night , a woman lead us for about half an hour till we were on the correct hi-way. Thank you for your great hospitality Puerto Rico.