A group of islands in the West Indies, southeast of Puerto Rico. The western portion of the Virgin Islands was under Danish rule until 1917, and under the United States since. The 30 eastern islands, which make up the British Virgin Islands, were under Dutch control until 1666, when they passed to Britain. Until 1956, they were administered as part of the Leeward Islands colony. In 1956 the British Virgin Islands became a separate crown colony and in 1967 became an Associated State, with Britain retaining control of foreign affairs and defense.