Culebra, Puerto Rico

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Isla Culebra (Spanish pronunciation: [kuˈleβɾa], "Snake Island") is an island-municipality of Puerto Rico originally called Isla Pasaje and Isla de San Ildefonso. It is located approximately 17 miles (27 km) east of the Puerto Rican mainland, 12 miles (19 km) west of St. Thomas and 9 miles (14 km) north of Vieques. Culebra is spread over 5 wards and Culebra (Dewey) Pueblo (The downtown area and the administrative center of the city). The island is also known as Isla Chiquita ("Little Island") and Última Virgen ("Last Virgin", reflecting its position at the end of the Virgin islands archipelago). Residents of the island are known as Culebrenses.

Contents

History

Christopher Columbus was the first European to arrive at the island in 1493. The island was populated by Taíno Indians prior to this and was used by pirates as a refuge for more than 3 centuries.

In 1875, a black Englishman named Stevens was made the first governor of Culebra by the government of Vieques. He was given the task of protecting the island and the fishermen who used the nearby waters from pirates. He was assassinated later that same year. Culebra was then settled by Cayetano Escudero Sanz on October 27, 1880. This first settlement was called San Ildefonso, to honor the Bishop of Toledo, San Ildefonso de la Culebra. Two years later, on September 25, 1882 construction of the Culebrita Lighthouse began and it was completed on February 25, 1886. It was the oldest operating lighthouse in the Caribbean until 1975, when the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard finally closed the facility.

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