The Virgin Islands were first inhabited by Carib and Arawak Indians but, in common with the rest of the Caribbean, they endured various waves of European invasion and settlement from the 1490s onwards, finally becoming part of the Danish West Indies. The US government purchased the islands in 1917 and they are now an unincorporated territory of the USA. A measure of self-government was introduced in 1954, along with the introduction of an elected Senate.
Politics on the islands follow the Republican-Democrat division of the USA itself. From the evidence of gubernatorial elections, the political complexion of the islands was distinctly Republican from 1970 until 1987. This is when the governorship passed to the Democrats, who held the post until Roy Schneider, representing the Independent Citizens' Movement, was elected in 1994. Despite the fact that the Republicans did not even put up a candidate, Schneider's efforts to secure a second term failed when he was defeated by Democrat Charles Turnbull at the 1999 election. Turnbull went on to rule for the next eight years before fellow Democrat John De Jongh succeeded him in 2007.