Even though Columbus discovered them in 1493, the Virgin Islands were never claimed as a Spanish territory. Instead, they were established as British and Danish colonies in 1625. Over the next several years, Spain and France tried to gain control of the islands but were never successful. In 1917, Denmark sold their island colonies to the United States. In 1921, Governor Sumner E.W. Kitelle established a local flag by Executive Order. The official flag of the Virgin Islands contains the initials of the territory on either side of a representation of the U.S. coat of arms.
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