Current Developments on Historic Vieques Island

In addition to its extensive portfolio of locations throughout the continental United States, Nationwide Automated Systems, Inc., through its Processing and ATM partner operates nearly a third of all non-bank ATMs in Puerto Rico. Nationwide Automated Systems has even established locations on Vieques Island, one of the Caribbean’s fastest-growing tourist hotspots. With a wealth of newly available and largely undeveloped space, Vieques Island is rapidly becoming a popular destination for travelers interested in both the region’s natural beauty and its fascinating history. 

Known colloquially as “La Isla Nena” or “The Little Girl Island,” the island was not colonized until 1843, when the Spanish established a municipality. Puerto Rico annexed Vieques in 1854. Vieques Island houses the oldest human remains identified in the Caribbean, dating to roughly 2,000 BC. According to local lore, the Taino Indians of Vieques Island were one of Christopher Columbus’ first points of contact in the Americas, and its name comes from “bieques,” their word for little island. Arawak Indians have also inhabited the island, and during the seventeenth century it was considered a notorious sanctuary for pirates and other maritime bandits. Additionally, Isla Segunda Fort in Vieques Sound was the last fortification the Spaniards built in the Americas. 

In 1941, the United States Navy appropriated two thirds of the island as a training ground. For nearly six decades, local inhabitants protested the Navy’s activities on Vieques Island, but it was not until a civilian died after two misdirected bombs hit the Observation Tower on the eastern shore in 1999 that international pressure finally prompted the Navy to withdraw. In 2003, the land formerly used for military purposes became the largest wildlife preserve in the Caribbean. Vieques Island has experienced comprehensive changes since the Navy vacated the area. Due to the lengthy military presence, Vieques Island remained largely undeveloped compared to the rest of Puerto Rico, and thus today its tourist appeal lies substantially in its wealth of open space and accessible, verdant beaches. 

The most popular destination for visitors to the Island is Mosquito Bay. Located along the southern shore of the island, this cove is home to hundreds of thousands of the tiny marine creatures known as dinoflagellates, single-celled bioluminescent organisms that light up the ocean waters at night. This astonishing natural attraction is carefully preserved by keeping tourists out of the bay’s water, preventing harmful chemicals like insecticides, sunblock, perfume, and other substances from harming these delicate and unique half-plant half-animal life forms.

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