History of the Virgin Islands ?
Map of the U.S. Virgin Islands
Flag of the U.S. Virgin Islands
Resources and Industry
Famous People from the Islands
Sports and Pastimes
For the Landlubber
Virgin Islands are located at 18 Deg 20 minutes N, 64 Deg 50 minutes W. The three principal islands are St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. There are a number of smaller islands around the three major islands. The lowest point on the islands is sea-level, the highest point is Crown Mountain on St. Thomas at 475 meters. Puerto Rico lies to the west, and the British Virgin Islands to the east. The population is estimated at 109, 8251
in the spring of 2009. The climate is subtropical, tempered by the easterly trade winds, there is little seasonal variation in temperature, with the rainy season from September to November.
The Ciboneys arrived on the islands during what is considered the Pre-Ceramic Culture. Later the Arawaks arrived around 100 AD, followed by the savage Caribs and the more peaceful Tainos.
The first European settler was Christopher Columbus on his second voyage of 1493, when he sailed into the Salt River. He named the island Santa Cruz, which is now the island of St. Croix. He then sailed north and discovered the chain of islands he named ‘Las Once Mil Virgenes’ (11,000 virgins).
During the 17th century, the archipelago was divided into two territorial units, one English and the other Danish. Sugarcane, produced by imported slave labor, drove the islands’ economy during the 18th and 19th centuries.
After the freeing of slaves and the discovery of sugar beet, agriculture in the islands declined. The industrial revolution ended the need for the islands as a shipping port, thus changing the economic environment. Little was heard of the islands until World War I, when the United States realized their strategic position and negotiated the purchase of the islands from Denmark for $25 million in gold. Although the islands were purchased in 1917, it wasn’t until 1927 that citizenship was granted to Virgin Islanders.
Resources and Industry
The islands have few natural resources. Much of the level land is too dry for farming, but can be used for pasture for livestock. St. Croix has the largest amount of land under cultivation. Sugarcane was once the most important crop but its importance has declined. Manufacturing is most developed on St. Croix, where rum, refined petroleum and watches are produced.
Tourism is the islands’ leading industry. St. Thomas and St. John are the chief tourist centers. Among attractions are the pleasant climate, beautiful scenery, and water sports. Another attraction is the free port, which sells at bargain prices goods imported from all over the world.
Famous People from the Islands
Kelsey Grammer (born 1955), actor was born in St. Thomas. Kelsey grew famous with roles in ‘Cheers’ and ‘Frasier’. He trained at the Juilliard School located in New York City.
Hanik Milligan was born 1979 in St. Croix, is an American football safety for the National Football League. He was originally drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
Sports and Pastimes
Sport fishing is very popular. Blue marlin, sailfish and wahoo are abundant in the waters off the islands. Sailing is a great way to explore the islands. If you’re an experienced sailor then you can rent a boat for a day or two of sailing. You may also enjoy taking a guided kayak tour through the mangroves.
Snorkeling and scuba diving are the most popular activities for visitors to the islands. If you want to snorkel there are plenty beaches perfect for the beginner or you can book a cruise that will take you to one of the outer reefs.
For the Landlubber
If visiting St. Croix you can go on an ATV tour or jeep tour, horseback riding, or rent a bike. There are golf courses available on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
St. John has some excellent opportunities for sports and activities. You can go kayaking or mountain biking. You can sign up for a guided sailing and snorkeling tour into the Virgin Islands National Park to visit protected islands and snorkel the coral reefs.
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