The history of the Virgin Islands, and in particular Tortola, is a fascinating and chequered one involving famous explorers, murderous pirates the slave trade and many changes in ownership. Even the origin of its name is up for debate. Many claim that Christopher Columbus, who discovered the archipelago of the Virgin Islands named the island Tortola after the Spanish word for Turtle Dove. The truth is much less romantic. He actually named it Santa Ana and its present name came after the later Dutch settlers named it Ter Tholen, after an island off the Netherlands. The British colonisers, not well known for their grasp of foreign language, changed it to Tortola.