Anegada is the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands, a group of islands which form part of the archipelago of the Virgin Islands. It lies approximately 15 miles north of Virgin Gorda. Anegada is the only inhabited one of the British Virgin Islands formed from coral and limestone, rather than being of volcanic origin. While the other islands are mountainous, Anegada is flat and low. Its highest point is only about 28 feet above sea level, earning it the name which translates as “the drowned land.”
At about 15 square miles (38 square kilometers), Anegada is the second largest of the British Virgin Islands, but it is also the most sparsely populated of the main islands (population roughly 200). Most of the population on Anegada live in the main town, The Settlement.
The primary business on Anegada is tourism. On a typical day during the tourist season, the island will have an additional 200 or so visitors. Commercial fishing is also a substantial business on Anegada, with local fishermen providing the majority of the fresh fish and lobster catch for the rest of the British Virgin Islands.
The remoteness of Anegada is one of its main attractions. Most visitors come to Anegada to relax, spending their days on Anegada's beautiful but relatively deserted north shore beaches. Its miles of south shore flats has a large population of bonefish, making Anegada a popular destination for flyfishing.
Access to the island is via the small Auguste George Airport (NGD), thrice-weekly ferries, and private boat.
Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 18-mile-long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, and the third largest on earth. The reef makes navigation to Anegada difficult. While charter boats freely sail among most of the other Virgin Islands, charter companies often forbid clients to sail to Anegada to avoid running aground on the reef.
The reef has claimed hundreds of shipwrecks, including HMS Astraea (1808), the Donna Paula (1819), the MS Rocus (1929). As such, it was once an important scuba diving destination. In an effort to protect the reef, the BVI government has made anchoring on Horseshoe Reef illegal.
Anegada is also known for miles of white sand beaches, the large salt ponds which cover much of the west end of the island, and unique fauna. In the 1830s thousands of Caribbean Flamingos lived in these ponds, but they were hunted for food and feathers throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries and disappeared by 1950. They are now being re-established into the ponds. The birds are another tourist draw, but officials are trying to keep the number of visitors to the flamingo areas at a level that allows the birds to flourish.
Other rare or endangered animals include the Anegada rock iguana (Cyclura pinguis) and several species of turtles. Conch, Caribbean lobster, and many fishes can be found near Anegada, particularly in the deep waters off the North Drop to the north of the island.
The reef adjacent to the Settlement used to be one of the more fertile conch grounds in the Caribbean, but overfishing has wiped out the conch population at the site. Visitors to the settlement are greeted by the sight of mountains of empty conch shells on the shore when they arrive.
There are also populations of feral cows, burros, and goats which live in all areas of the island.
Western Salt Ponds of Anegada was designated a Ramsar Site on May 11, 1999.
Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/
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