The Town of Chincoteague, Virginia was incorporated in 1908. The incorporated area was small, but at the time most of the residents lived within the small area. Over the years the Town has seen three annexations with the last being in 1989. The 1989 annexation made the entire Island part of the Town of Chincoteague.
The word "Chincoteague" is said to be an Indian name meaning "beautiful land across the water." The pronunciation and spelling have changed over time. Court records in 1671 indicate a spelling of "Jungoteague". A reference from the early 1800s indicates a spelling of "Gingoteag."
Today, Chincoteague is a quiet, relaxing vacation destination for families. However, during the 17th century, the Island was used for livestock grazing. By 1800, families had settled on the Island full-time. These settlers learned the importance of natural resources: oysters, clams, crabs, and fish. A seafood industry developed with trade to New York and Philadelphia. After the completion of the causeway in 1922, the seafood trade flourished and tourists began visiting Chincoteague. Tourism increased after the completion of the bridge to Assateague in 1962 and is not the primary industry.