Not far away are the British Virgin Islands with Roadtown, the capital, on Tortola Island. Of the thirty-six islands only sixteen are inhabited; they comprise a long chain of mountain coral and volcanic islands. Total population is only 10,500, most of whom are of African descent. Robert Louis Stevenson took the name of one of the islands, Treasure Island, for his own in his classic novel. Virgin Gorda has a Rock resort, beautiful and luxurious Little Dix Bay. The island is also known for The Baths, mammoth boulder formations at the edge of the sea creating caves and grottos, pools and coves.
Stringing southeast in an arc from the Virgin Islands are the islands of St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, and Montserrat. All are connected with the British government and receive aid from Britain. All depend on agriculture and tourism and are populated mostly by blacks, the descendents of slaves. St. Kitts is the larger member of the two-island confederation with Nevis. Basseterre, the capital, is a quiet English-style town. Nevis is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. Antigua has a wet and a dry side, the dry side being on the leeward side. It is known for its beautiful little Nelson’s harbor, headquarters for Lord Nelson when he commanded the fleet in that part of the world. There is an exquisite coastline and several first class resorts. Tourism is its major source of income about eighty thousand visitors each year. Barbuda, a separate island which rings a lagoon, is politically a part of Antigua. It was once a breeding center for slaves. Antigua gained independence in 1981 though it has only seventy-six thousand people. Montserrat is at a disadvantage touristi-cally because of its rugged mountains and lack of white sand beaches.
The largest of the French-related islands in the Caribbean are Guadeloupe and Martinique. The people, mostly black, are French citizens. The capital of Guadeloupe is Basse Terre. Shaped like a butterfly in flight, Guadeloupe is made up of two islands, Grand Terre and Basse Terre. The first is a flat land with a few rolling hills, while Basse Terre is mountainous with volcanos rising to a height of 4,812 feet. Around the island are beautiful sandy beaches, three of which are set aside for nude bathing. Administratively, it is a full-fledged department of France and French in language, cuisine, currency, and customs. Martinique is the home of Napoleon’s Josephine, and the dance the beguine originated here. In the last decade some luxury hotels have sprung up with casinos and night life. Cruise passengers are more than double the stay-over arrivals to this large, lush island with rain forests, beaches and Mont Pelee, the volcano that wiped out St. Pierre eighty years ago.