In , Christopher Columbus landed on an island he named Santa Cruz. Location and Geography. The country lies seventy miles east of Puerto Rico, in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean, and is composed of three large and fifty small islands totaling square miles square kilometers. Saint Croix, the southernmost and largest island, has land suitable for agriculture. Saint Thomas, forty miles to the north, has the highest point on the islands, with little tillable land. With a good port at Charlotte Amalie, it became a commercial center with reliance on the slave trade.
Territorial Dress | Government of the Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands and many of its sister islands in the Caribbean is a dyed plaid fabric that dates back to the early 14th century. Originating in the Indian city formerly known as Madras , it was handwoven and often worn by the working class as a light-wear clothing option for hotter tropical environments. The fabric made its way from India to the Middle East and eventually Northern Africa after becoming a commodity for European trade. English author Paul Crask cites members of the Igbo tribe from Nigeria as those responsible for bringing madras to the Caribbean through the transatlantic slave trade. They bore the tradition of wearing madras on Sundays — their days off — or during festivities. Madras also grew in popularity in Louisiana as well as in French-Caribbean islands, where strict Tignon Laws barred African women from displaying their hair as a way to curb European men from pursuing them. When the Spanish governor of New Orleans attempted to further suppress them by prohibiting the use of feathers, silk fabric, and jewels, they began sporting colorful headwraps made of madras with manipulated folds and points as a form of self-expression.