The Palissandrian Virgin Islands (Isole Vergini Palissandriane), also known as the Tuscan Virgin Islands (Isole Vergini Toscane) or the South Virgin Islands, is a dependent territory of the South American country Palissandria. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles to the east of Puerto Rico and south of the Blessed Islands.
Before European contact, the Virgin Islands were originally inhabited by the Siboney and Arawak peoples. In 1643, Christopher Colombus first saw the islands and named them Santa Úrsula y las Once Mil Vírgenes. This name would later be shortened to "the Virgin Islands". Throughout the 1600s, the Virgin Islands were disputed by multiple nations, among them France, the Dutch Republic, England, and Spain.
Danish Colony (1733-1820)
Denmark-Norway started to settle several islands during the 1660s to 1670s. Denmark-Norway later purchased the island of St. Croix (now Santa Croje, the capital island) from the French West Indies company in 1733. Sugar and cotton plantations were built on the islands, manned by slaves from Africa. By the late 1700s, the slave population of the Virgin Islands heavily outnumbered that of the Danish. The Danish colony underwent multiple slave insurrections, most notable of them the 1794 Conspiracy of Sugar Creek, occurring concurrently with the French Revolution, which saw the destruction of several plantations and massacres against the Danish population. The insurrection was crushed by the occupying French forces, and later British forces. After the French Revolutionary wars, the Virgin Islands were officially transferred over to Great Britain.
Purchase by the Tuscan West India Company (1817)
The Tuscan West India company also took an interest in the islands since the late 1700s. Due to its instability and ruin, Britain considered returning the islands to Denmark, but decided against it. Britain, however, was still keen on getting rid of the islands. Tuscany then took on an offer by Britain to sell the islands. The islands became Tuscan colonies in 1817, governed by the Tuscan West India company in Palissandria in South America (another Tuscan colony). The new Tuscan government revitalized the sugar and cotton industry in the islands, still using slavery as a means of manpower. However, unlike Danish policies, the Tuscan West Indies company had lighter restrictions on the slaves, and the policy of slave manumission was enacted in the Tuscan Slave Act of 1828. This in effect also brought ethnic Africans (freed-slaves) into Palissandria.
Slavery was abolished in all the Tuscan colonies in 1848. Following Palissandria's independence in 1880, the Virgin Islands fell under the governance of the new independent nation.
In a 2006 census, 96% of the population claimed to practice Roman Catholicism. It is one of the strongholds of Catholicism in the Caribbean. The majority of the population is of African descent, making up about 76% of the population. 21% of the population are of European or mixed descent, with four-fifths of that percentage only having moved to the Virgin Islands in the 20th century.