About Vieques

18°07′N 65°25′W
 

Vieques (vee eh kis) a.k.a. Isla Nena (little girl island) is a 52 square mile island approximately 8 miles off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, and west of the US Virgin Islands. It is a municipality of Puerto Rico - a US territory as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1898.  Prior to and during the struggles between European powers to claim the Caribbean islands lived the culture of Taino Indians, a subgroup of the Arawakan Indians from northeastern South America. Like Puerto Rico, there are strong Spanish influences from 400 years under Spain’s rule.  It is part of the group of islands known as the Spanish Virgin Islands and the Greater Antilles.  Vieques is 21 miles long (east to west) and about 4 miles wide (north to south). The population is approximately 10,000 people, which fluctuates with a busier season marked by tourist trying to escape the cold of the North.

The US Navy owned and occupied 2/3 of the island from 1940-2003.  Prior to the Navy’s arrival, the island was primarily farmed for sugar cane.  As of 2003, the former Navy land has been designated a National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This means that 2/3 of the island is undeveloped and protected.  The diverse ecological habitats on the refuge consist of sub-tropical dry forest on the eastern side of the island, upland forest, mangrove wetlands, lagoons, sea grass beds, coral reefs, and best of all – beaches. 

 

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