The earliest people that lived on the San Juan Islands were the Indians. British and Spanish explorers made their discovery of the Islands in the 18th century. White settlements didn't begin until the 1850's. Conflicts between the British and the Americans started when the so called "Pig War" was fought.
Fortunately after this war the British and the American Goverments made a joint compromise of ownership of the San Juans until a boundary could be agreed on. Finally the decision was made by the Kaiser of Germany, who decided in 1872 that the Americans had the stronger claim to the islands.
Water surrounding the San Juans are extremely popular with boaters from both countries. The San Juans in the past have proven attractive to smugglers and rum-runners as routes for transporting everything from illegal aliens to drugs, but on the whole the San Juans population has been populated by farmers, fishermen and artist and more.
Beginning in the 1970's, the
population began to change. Jobs had become less profitable and the
tourist business was becoming more inportant. Today with improved
transportation and better living standards the islands are less
remote and more liveable then ever before.