Migration, inhabitant’s foundation and source of origin, Culture and tradition. United States Virgin Islands History. British Virgin Islands, Caribbean history, Oceanic people. In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed on an island he named Santa Cruz. Driven away by the Carib Indians, he sailed northward to a nearby group of islands he called Las Once Mil Virgenes, in honor of Saint Ursula. The French took Santa Cruz from Spain in 1650, renaming it Saint Croix. The towns of Christiansted and Frederiksted on Saint Croix and Charlotte Amalie, the capital, on Saint Thomas were founded by the Danes and named after Danish royalty. 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 136 square miles (352 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. The smallest of the main islands, Saint John, was donated by Laurence Rockefeller in 1956 as a national park. In 1996, Water Island, off the southern coast of Saint Thomas, was officially added to the country. United States Virgin Islands History and Cultural Information and Travel Guide. Vacation package Book..