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United States Virgin Islands
Flag Coat of arms
MottoUnited in Pride and Hope
AnthemVirgin Islands March
Capital
(and largest city)
Charlotte Amalie
18°21′N 64°56′W / 18.35°N 64.933°W / 18.35; -64.933
Official languages English
Ethnic groups  74% Afro-Caribbean, 13% Caucasian, 5% Puerto Rican, 8% others
Demonym U.S. Virgin Islander
Government Unincorporated, organized territory
 -  Head of State Barack Obama (D)
 -  Governor John de Jongh (D)
 -  Lieutenant Governor Gregory R. Francis (D)
 United States Territory
 -  Transfer from Denmark to the United States 31 March 1917 
 -  Revised Organic Act 22 July 1954 
Area
 -  Total 346.36 km2 (202nd)
133.73 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.0
Population
 -  July 2007 estimate 108,448 (191st)
 -  2000 census 108,612 
 -  Density 354/km2 (34th)
916.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP)  estimate
 -  Total
Currency U.S. dollar (USD)
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
 -  Summer (DST) No DST (UTC-4)
Drives on the left[1]
Internet TLD .vi and .us
Calling code +1 (spec. +1-340)
This article is about the territory of the United States Virgin Islands. For the British Overseas Territory of the Virgin Islands, see British Virgin Islands. For the archipelago of the Virgin Islands, see Virgin Islands.

The United States Virgin Islands, also called Virgin Islands of the United States is a group of islands in the Caribbean that are an insular area of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.

The U.S. Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, along with the much smaller but historically distinct Water Island, and many other surrounding minor islands. The total land area of the territory is 133.73 square miles (346.4 km2). As of the 2000 census the population was 108,612.[2]

The main islands have nicknames often used by locals: "Twin City" (St. Croix), "Rock City" (St. Thomas), "Love City" (St. John), and "Small City" (Water Island).[3]

Contents

History

The Virgin Islands were originally settled by the Ciboney, Carib, and Arawaks. The islands were named by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 for Saint Ursula and her virgin followers. Over the next three hundred years, the islands were held by many European powers, including Spain, England, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark-Norway.

The Danish West India Company settled on Saint Thomas in 1672, on Saint John in 1694, and purchased Saint Croix from France in 1733. The islands became royal Danish colonies in 1754, named the Danish-Westindian islands—De dansk-vestindiske øer in Danish. Sugarcane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries, until the abolition of slavery by Governor Peter von Scholten on July 3, 1848.

For the remainder of the period of Danish rule, the islands were not economically viable and significant transfers were made from the Danish state budgets to the authorities in the islands. In 1867 a treaty to sell Saint Thomas and Saint John to the United States was agreed, but the sale was never effected.[4] A number of reforms aimed at reviving the islands' economy were attempted, but none had great success. A second draft treaty to sell the islands to the United States was negotiated in 1902 but was narrowly defeated in the Danish parliament.[4]

The onset of World War I brought the reforms to a close and again left the islands isolated and exposed. During the submarine warfare phases of the First World War, the United States, fearing that the islands might be seized by Germany as a submarine base, again approached Denmark with a view to buying them. After a few months of negotiations, a selling price of $25 million was agreed. At the same time the economics of continued possession weighed heavily on the minds of Danish decision makers, and a bipartisan consensus in favor of selling emerged in the Danish parliament. A subsequent referendum held in late 1916 confirmed the decision to sell by a wide margin. The deal was thus finalized on January 17, 1917, when the United States and Denmark exchanged their respective treaty ratifications. The U.S. took possession of the islands on March 31, 1917 and the territory was renamed the Virgin Islands of the United States.

U.S. citizenship was granted to the inhabitants of the islands in 1927.

Water Island, a small island to the south of Saint Thomas, was initially administered by the U.S. Federal government and did not become a part of the U.S. Virgin Islands territory until 1996, when 50 acres (20 ha) of land was transferred to the territorial government. The remaining 200 acres (81 ha) of the island were purchased from the US Department of the Interior in May 2005 for $10, a transaction which marked the official change in jurisdiction.[5]

Geography

Map of the U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, about 90 miles (140 km) east of Puerto Rico and immediately west of the British Virgin Islands. The territory consists of four main islands: Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix, and Water Island, as well as several dozen smaller islands. The combined land area of the islands is roughly twice the size of Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are known for their white sand beaches, including Magens Bay and Trunk Bay, and strategic harbors, including Charlotte Amalie and Christiansted. Most of the islands, including Saint Thomas, are volcanic in origin and hilly. The highest point is Crown Mountain, Saint Thomas (1,555 ft/474 m). Saint Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, lies to the south and has a flatter terrain. The National Park Service owns more than half of Saint John, nearly all of Hassel Island, and many acres of coral reef. (See also Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Christiansted National Historic Site, and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.)

The Virgin Islands lie on the boundary of the North American plate and the Caribbean Plate. Natural hazards include earthquakes, tropical cyclones, and hurricanes.

Climate

The U.S. Virgin Islands enjoy an arid climate, moderated by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. In the capital, Charlotte Amalie, typical daily maximum temperatures are around 91 °F (33 °C) in the summer and 86 °F (30 °C) in the winter. Typical daily minimum temperatures are around 78 °F (26 °C) in the summer and 72 °F (22 °C) in the winter. Rainfall averages about 38 inches (965 mm) per year. Rainfall can be quite variable, but the wettest months on average are September to November and the driest months on average are February and March. Hurricanes occasionally hit the islands, with the hurricane season running from June to November.

Weather data for US Virgin Islands
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °F (°C) 86
(30)
86
(30)
86
(30)
88
(31)
88
(31)
90
(32)
90
(32)
91
(33)
90
(32)
90
(32)
88
(31)
86
(30)
Average low °F (°C) 72
(22)
72
(22)
72
(22)
74
(23)
76
(24)
77
(25)
78
(26)
78
(26)
77
(25)
76
(24)
75
(24)
73
(23)
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.89
(48)
1.51
(38.4)
1.52
(38.6)
2.39
(60.7)
3.36
(85.3)
2.35
(59.7)
2.42
(61.5)
3.50
(88.9)
5.34
(135.6)
5.57
(141.5)
5.28
(134.1)
2.74
(69.6)
Source: [6] May 2009

Politics

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands
Christiansted, the largest town on St. Croix

The U.S. Virgin Islands are an organized, unincorporated United States territory. Even though they are U.S. citizens, U.S. Virgin Islands residents cannot vote in presidential elections. U.S. Virgin Islands residents, however, are able to vote in presidential primary elections for delegates to the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention.

The main political parties in the U.S. Virgin Islands are the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands, the Independent Citizens Movement, and the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands. Additional candidates run as independents.

At the national level, the U.S. Virgin Islands elects a delegate to Congress from its at-large congressional district. However, the elected delegate, while able to vote in committee, cannot participate in floor votes. The current House of Representatives delegate is Donna Christensen (D).

At the territorial level, 15 senators—seven from the district of Saint Croix, seven from the district of Saint Thomas and Saint John, and one senator at-large who must be a resident of Saint John—are elected for two-year terms to the unicameral Virgin Islands Legislature.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has elected a territorial governor every four years since 1970. Previous governors were appointed by the President of the United States.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has a District Court, Superior Court and the Supreme Court. The District Court is responsible for federal law, while the Superior Court is responsible for U.S. Virgin Islands law at the trial level and the Supreme Court is responsible for appeals from the Superior Court for all appeals filed on or after January 29, 2007. Appeals filed prior to that date are heard by the Appellate Division of the District Court. Appeals from the federal District Court are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. District Court judges are appointed by the President, while Superior Court and Supreme Court judges are appointed by the Governor.

Self-determination

The U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. A 1993 referendum on status attracted only 31.4 percent turnout, and so its results (in favor of status quo) were considered void. No further referenda have been scheduled since.

In 2004, the 25th legislature established the Fifth Constitutional Convention. In June 2009, Governor John deJongh, Jr. rejected the resulting draft constitution, saying that the document "violates federal law, fails to defer to federal sovereignty and disregards basic civil rights."[7] However, a lawsuit filed by members of the Fifth Constitutional Convention to force Governor deJongh to forward the document to President Barack Obama was ultimately successful.

There is a bill pending Senate approval in the United States Congress that would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to extend technical assistance grants and other assistance to facilitate a political status public education program in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.[8]

Economy

Tourism is the primary economic activity. The islands normally host 2 million visitors a year, many of whom visit on cruise ships.

The manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, textiles, electronics, rum distilling, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. The agricultural sector is small, with most food being imported. International business and financial services are a small but growing component of the economy. Hovensa, one of the world's largest petroleum refineries, is located on Saint Croix.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are permanently on Atlantic Standard Time and do not participate in daylight saving time. When the U.S. is on Standard Time, the U.S. Virgin Islands are one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. When the U.S. is on daylight saving time, Eastern Daylight Time is the same as Atlantic Standard Time.

The islands are subject to tropical storms and hurricanes. In recent history, substantial damage was caused by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. The islands were also struck by Hurricane Bertha in 1996, Hurricane Georges in 1998, Hurricane Lenny in 1999, and Hurricane Omar in 2008, but damage was not as severe in those hurricanes.

Demographics

Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1970 62,468
1980 96,569 54.6%
1990 101,809 5.4%
2000 108,612 6.7%

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 108,612 people, 40,648 households, and 26,636 families residing in the territory. The racial makeup of the territory was 76.19% Black or African Descent, 13.09% White, 7.23% from other races, and 3.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.99% of the population.

There were 40,648 households out of which 34.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.2% were married couples living together, 24.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.5% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.34.

In the territory the population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males. The annual population growth is -0.12%.

The median income for a household in the territory was $24,704, and the median income for a family was $28,553. Males had a median income of $28,309 versus $22,601 for females. The per capita income for the territory was $13,139. About 28.7% of families and 32.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.7% of those under age 18 and 29.8% of those age 65 or over.

Ethnicity

Language

The official language is English, although Virgin Islands Creole is spoken in informal situations. Because the U.S. Virgin Islands is home to thousands of immigrants from across the Caribbean, Spanish and various French creole languages are also widely spoken.

Religion

Most people living within the United States Virgin Islands adhere to some form of Christianity, including Catholicism and Protestantism. Even though most people of this region are not known for the religiousness, there is still a major influence on the culture coming from religion.

Culture

Districts and sub-districts

The U.S. Virgin Islands are administratively divided into three districts and subdivided into 20 sub-districts.

The districts are:

Sub-districts of Saint Croix:

  1. Anna's Hope Village
  2. Christiansted
  3. East End
  4. Frederiksted
  5. Northcentral
  6. Northwest
  7. Sion Farm
  8. Southcentral
  9. Southwest

Sub-districts of Saint Thomas:

  1. Charlotte Amalie
  2. East End
  3. Northside
  4. Southside
  5. Tutu
  6. Water Island
  7. West End

Sub-districts of Saint John:

  1. Central
  2. Coral Bay
  3. Cruz Bay
  4. East End

Transportation

The Henry E. Rohlsen International Airport serves St. Croix and the Cyril E. King International Airport serves St. Thomas and St. John. The U.S. Virgin Islands are the only United States territory which drives on the left. This was inherited from what was then-current Danish practice at the time of annexation, to limit losses of livestock. However, as most cars, being imported from the mainland United States, on the road are left hand drive, the driver sits to the outside of the road, raising safety issues.

Education

Virgin Islands Department of Education [1] serves as the territory's education agency.

Two school districts operate schools: St. Thomas-St. John School District [2] of St. Thomas and St. John and St. Croix School District of St. Croix. [3]

See also

References

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Virgin Islands article)

From Wikitravel

North America : Caribbean : Virgin Islands
noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:vq-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Charlotte Amalie
Government U.S. Territory
Currency US dollar (USD)
Area total: 352 sq km
water: 3 sq km
land: 349 sq km
Population 123,498 (July 2002 est.)
Language English (official), Spanish
Religion Baptist 42%, Roman Catholic 34%, Episcopalian 17%, other 7%
Calling Code +1 (340)
Internet TLD .vi
Time Zone UTC-4 (no DST)

The U.S. Virgin Islands is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States of America between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico. It was formerly known as the Danish West Indies. Together with the British Virgin Islands, to the northeast, the territory forms the Virgin Islands archipelago. The islands natural resources are sun, sand, sea, and surf.

  • Buck Island Reef National Monument - established to preserve one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea
  • Christiansted National Historic Site - 5 preserved historic structures and interprets the Danish economy and way of life in existence there from 1733 to 1917
  • Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve - home to some of the largest mango forests in the Virgin Islands as well as coral reefs and a submarine canyon
  • Virgin Islands National Park - within its 7,000 plus acres is the complex history of civilizations - both free and enslaved - dating back more than a thousand years, all who utilized the land and the sea for survival
  • Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument - includes federal submerged lands within the 3 mile belt off of the island of St. John

Understand

Climate

Tropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season May to November. Has experienced several hurricanes in recent years as well as frequent and severe droughts and floods.

Terrain

Mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land. There are occasional earthquakes.

Highest point: Crown Mountain 474 m

Location

Is in an important location along the Anegada Passage - a key shipping lane for the Panama Canal; Saint Thomas has one of the best natural deepwater harbors in the Caribbean

History

During the 17th century, the archipelago was divided into two territorial units, one English and the other Danish. Sugarcane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1917, the US purchased the Danish portion, which had been in economic decline since the abolition of slavery in 1848.

National holiday 
Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 27 March (1917), Emancipation Day, 3 July (1848)

Get in

By plane

Flights are into either St. Croix or St. Thomas. St. John does not have an airport, but is easily accessible via St. Thomas.

Many flights connect through San Juan, Puerto Rico, but direct flights from the continental U.S. involve less hassle and flying time.

Direct flights into St. Thomas can be found from Miami, New York-JFK and Boston on American Airlines, Atlanta on Delta Airlines, Newark on Continental Airlines, Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and New York-La Guardia(weekly) on U.S. Airways, Washington-Dulles and Chicago-O'Hare on United Airlines, and Detroit(weekly) on Northwest Airlines.

Direct flights into St. Croix can be found from Miami on American Airlines, Charlotte on U.S. Airways (weekly, seasonal), and Atlanta (twice weekly) on Delta Airlines. St. Croix can also be easily reached from the mainland via St. Thomas by flying Cape Air (which flies between the St. Thomas and St. Croix airports) or Seaborne Airlines (which flies seaplanes between Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and Christiansted, St. Croix).

By boat

Ferries run between all three US Virgin Islands, as well as to and from the British Virgin Islands and, on a seasonal basis, Puerto Rico.

Get around

Getting around any of the Virgin Islands is fairly easy. All of the islands have bus service and/or a regulated taxi service. Upon docking at Cruz Bay, taxis, rental cars, and scooters are available.

By car

With plenty to explore on all the islands, car rental agencies are recommended. From the lush rainforest to the quaint Christiansted, driving the St Croix island is both scenic and a visual pleasure. Stick to the left-hand side and with a good handful of sharp curves, take your time navigating the roads. Remember that you're on "island time."

Generally car rental rates will be comparable to the mainland U.S. (about $500 per week or $80 per day). If you make advanced reservations, the rates are generally lower. Take out the insurance if you plan to go four wheeling up the steep mountain roads. Throughout St. Thomas, there are colored directional signs to major destinations.

Unlike other US territories, traffic on the Virgin Islands moves on the left. To add to the confusion, unlike most other places where traffic moves on the left, most cars in the Virgin Islands are left-hand drive as they are usually imported from the US mainland. Large and numberous potholes, unmarked one-way streets, very narrow two-ways streets, and a high incidence of drunk driving accounts for the relatively high accident rate among American drivers on the Virgin Islands. As such, one should always pay extra attention when driving and watch out for drivers who drive on the wrong side of the road.

It is rare for islanders to stop at "Stop" signs; most will slow down and if the turn is "blind" they will honk the horn to warn other possible traffic. Because the elevation changes, transmission and brakes are in need of regular repair and maintenance.

There is a rudimentary highway numbering system. Roads are marked with circular signs. Numbers beginning with 1 and 2 are used on St. John, with 3 and 4 on St. Thomas and 5 to 7 on St. Croix. Roads are not very well marked -- some are not marked at all -- and designations can be confusing. Some roads simply dead-end, or end at an unmarked intersection. Signage can suddenly disappear without warning; for example, heading south on Route 40 into Charlotte Amalie, signage is nowhere to be found as you are shuttled onto one-way streets. It is not uncommon to come to a junction where one must turn to stay on the current road. Locals are more likely to know the names of the roads; conversly, tourist maps usually emphasise the numbers.

By taxi and bus

Upon landing at the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas, one could rent a taxi or take buses to Charlotte Amalie, or to Red Hook, either of which have ferry service to Cruz Bay, St. John. You can "bargain" for most things on the islands, but the taxi and bus rates are regulated. Taxi rates are published by the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission. If you are interested in saving $8, you can walk 3/4 of a mile to Vetern's Drive and catch a safari bus that will take you into town for $1 or $2 dollars if you have minimal luggage.

Taxi rates are charged per person one way. For example, a one way trip from Charlotte Amalie to Magens Bay is $10; round trip for four people will cost $80. If you plan on visiting multiple destinations, renting a car might be more economical.you need to have bus fares too!

By boat

Sailboat rentals at Red Hook will allow you to get around by water. If you plan to sail to the British Virgin Islands, a passport is required as of 2007. Although passports are not required for American citizens to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) has made the documentation requirements must stricter.

On St. John, get the best idea of the island by chartering a boat for a full day. By doing this not only will one get a wonderful day of snorkeling in, but also see the island from a local's perspective. Try St John Yacht Charters at 340-998-9898.

There is a ferry boat that transports cars between Red Hook, St. Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John. The dock is separate from the passenger ferries. The sign is really small, so if you can't find the dock, ask the workers by the passenger ferries.

Talk

English is the official language but you may also find Spanish being spoken.

Buy

St. Croix is rich with artists. Christiansted is home to many galleries including WATCH YOUR STEP owned by artist Diane Given Hayes, D&D STUDIO featuring works by Ted Davis and other notable artists, ISLAND BOY DESIGNS owned by jewelry designer Whealan Massciott (Kenny Chesney is a fan), the MARIA HENLE GALLERY and many more. A stroll around town will reveal these and many more treasures.

  • D&D Studio Fine Art Gallery, 55 Company Street, Christiansted, St. Croix - U.S. Virgin Islands 00820, 340.719.1201, [1]. D&D Studio sells stunning, eye-catching works from the Caribbean's finest photographers and is the only gallery in the West Indies devoted entirely to the art of photography. When in historic downtown Christiansted, you're invited to stop in the Studio and owners Ted Davis and Sam Dike will show you delightful new exhibits in a sophisticated gallery setting. Much of the artwork seen on the D&D Studio web site can be purchased over telephone or through e-mail. Purchased artwork will be shipped insured and very well packaged to any point on the globe. Give us a call or drop us a line and we'll help you place your order.  edit

The islands are duty-free and have all sorts of shops, with special emphasis on rums, tanzanite, and diamond and gold jewelry. See same subject under St Thomas for discussion.

  • Rumrunners, 44A Queen Cross Street (on the boardwalk in Christiansted in Hotel Caravelle), (340) 773-6585, [2]. Waterfront location..watch the seaplanes take off and land, see Captain Carl Holley bring in the catch of the day, and enjoy a perfect blend of local and American flavors. Open for breakfast, lunch & dinner 7 days a week, and Sunday brunch with live steel pan music!  edit

St. Croix is home to a celebrated week-long culinary festival held each April called the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience which includes wine seminars, dinners with celebrity chefs (Kevin Rathbun, Rocco DiSpirito, Robbin Haas, Gerry Klaskala, Richard Reddington are just a few who joined the fun)and the main event, A Taste of St. Croix, showcases foods from more than 50 of the islands restaurants.

For a listing of restaurants on the island see www.GoToStCroix.com. Great local food can be found at Harvey's(stew goat), Singh's (roti) and Norma at the Domino Club in the rain forest always has something cooking.

For fine dining, try Tutto Bene, Bacchus, Savant and The Galleon. Rumrunners, located on the waterfront at Hotel Caravelle is perfect for casual, fun dining. They do a great blend of local and traditional American dishes and flavors.

If you want to catch what you eat, go fishing with Carl Holley. His boat, Mokojumbie, ties up ont he docks near Rumrunners. he, in fact, supplies many restaurants with fresh fish daily.

Drink

On Saint John dollar drinks are available across the street from the National park office, next to the ice cream shop.

On St. Thomas, There are several drinking establishments in Red Hook, on the East End, including: Caribbean Saloon, Duffy's Love Shack, Fat Boy's, Molly Malone's, Island Time Pizza, and XO Bistro.

On St. Croix, Cruzan Rum is made at a distillery that you can tour. Be sure to do the tour and participate in the tasting after! Cruzan Rum is available just about everywhere, but there are certain flavors (ie Clipper) that are not sold in the USA, so take a bottle back with you. In the seaside town of Christiansted is the Brew Pub which makes several good beers. And, when at local places or events, always ask if there is a local drink. Be wary of the home recipes (ie Mama Wanna) - they are STRONG!

  • University of the Virgin Islands [3] UVI is a small but respectable school founded in 1962. It is compromised of two main campuses, in St. Thomas and St. Croix. Its mascot is the UVI Buccaneer. It is a corresponding member of the NCAA and competes against NCAA II and III along with the Intercollegiate Sports Organization League in Puerto Rico.

The public high schools have had a history of trouble with accreditation, but recent improvements have gotten them accepted on a probationary basis.

To learn about history and culture, visit St. Croix's historic landmarks. St. Croix is home to two forts (one in each waterfront town) and numerous historic buildings. Tours are available at Government House in Christiansted. Whim Great House and the Laweatz Museum offer tours. There is even a self guided island tour called the Heritage Tour, maps are available at various places.

To learn about food and agriculture, come to St. Croix during the annual Ag Fair. You can also visit the VI Sustainable farm (call in advance) and Southgate Farms (both organic).

Work

As a US territory, Americans can come here and work with no special visa. Foreigners must go through the rigorous process of obtaining a US work permit.

The economy is quite seasonal, based mostly around cruise ship calls, which taper off from May through September and peak in December and January.

Stay safe

This is the only US possession where driving on the left side (British) of the road is practiced. There are many theories as to why this is. One theory is due to the prior use of the donkey as a main mode of transportation. Islanders would drive on the left to see how close they were getting to the edge of the many steep and cliff-like roadways. The original donkey trails were then paved over to create what are now the roadways today. Another theory is that as a Danish colony, the Danish West Indies were heavily British-influenced, due to an unwillingness among Danish people to relocate to the Danish colony. This British influence explains the widespread use of the English language even before the United States purchased the islands from Denmark in 1917.

Some parts of St.Thomas, especially Charlotte Amalie can be risky at night. Drug and other related crime is a problem. Tourists should exercise caution when getting around as some neighborhoods can be dangerous, even if a well-known restaurant is in this neighborhood. It is advised to take a taxi.

St.John is a relatively safe island and usual caution is advised when leaving your car unattended, especially at secluded beaches such as Salt Pond Bay. Your car is not a safe and yes, thieves WILL look under the front seat for your wallet.

Stay healthy

Low-lying buildings usually use the public water, which is fine to drink. Places up in the mountains almost all have independent water supplies, replenished by the rain that falls on their roofs. The safety of this water depends on regular cleaning and treatment of the building's cistern.

There are several parts of St. Thomas that are not safe after dark, and a couple places that are not safe at any time of day. The islands may seem like paradise, but the crime rate is comparable to many large cities.

Respect

Islanders follow a system of greeting which depends on the time of day. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night are the norm. Most people follow-up a salutation with "How are you?" When entering a room with others it is customary to greet people. You may also be greeted with "ya arright?", to which an appropriate response would be "arright!" or "OK". Islanders also use a modified handshake. A normal shake, then a finger clasp, followed by a fist bump.

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Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010
(Redirected to United States Virgin Islands article)

From Familypedia

The United States Virgin Islands are a group of islands in the Caribbean that are an insular area of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.

The U.S. Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, along with the much smaller but historically distinct Water Island, and many other surrounding minor islands. The total land area of the territory is 346.36 km² (133.73 sq mi). As of the 2000 census the population was 108,612.[1]

Three of the main islands have nicknames often used by locals: "Rock City" (St. Thomas), "Love City" (St. John), and "Twin City" (St. Croix).

Contents

History

Main article: History of the United States Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands were originally settled by the Ciboney, Carib, and Arawaks. The islands were named by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 for Saint Ursula and her virgin followers. Over the next three hundred years, the islands were held by many European powers, including Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark.

The Danish West India Company settled on Saint Thomas in 1672, on Saint John in 1694, and purchased Saint Croix from France in 1733. The islands became royal Danish colonies in 1754, their name translating to Jomfruøerne in Danish. Sugarcane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries, until the abolition of slavery by Governor Peter von Scholten on July 3, 1848.

For the remainder of the period of Danish rule, the islands were not economically viable and significant transfers were made from the Danish state budgets to the authorities in the islands. In 1867 a treaty to sell Saint Thomas and Saint John to the United States was agreed, but the sale was never effected.[2] A number of reforms aimed at reviving the islands' economy were attempted, but none had great success. A second draft treaty to sell the islands to the United States was negotiated in 1902, but was narrowly defeated in the Danish parliament.[2]

The onset of World War I brought the reforms to a close, and again left the islands isolated and exposed. During the submarine warfare phases of the First World War, the United States, fearing that the islands might be seized by Germany as a submarine base, again approached Denmark with a view to buying them. After a few months of negotiations, a selling price of $25 million was agreed. The Danish Crown may have felt some pressure to accept the sale, thinking that the United States would seize the islands if Denmark was invaded by Germany. At the same time the economics of continued possession weighed heavily on the minds of Danish decision makers, and a bipartisan consensus in favor of selling emerged in the Danish parliament. A subsequent referendum held in late 1916 confirmed the decision to sell by a wide margin. The deal was thus finalized on January 17, 1917, when the United States and Denmark exchanged their respective treaty ratifications. The U.S. took possession of the islands on March 31, 1917 and the territory was renamed the Virgin Islands of the United States.

U.S. citizenship was granted to the inhabitants of the islands in 1927.

Water Island, a small island to the south of Saint Thomas, was not included in the original sale. It remained in the possession of the Danish West India Company until 1944, when it too was bought by the USA for $10,000.[3] It was initially administered by the U.S. Federal government and did not become a part of the U.S. Virgin Islands territory until 1996, when 50 acres of land was transferred to the territorial government. The remaining 200 acres of the island were purchased from the US Department of the Interior in May 2005 for $10, a transaction which marked the official change in jurisdiction.[4]

Geography

Map of the U.S. Virgin Islands
Main article: Geography of the United States Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, about 50 miles east of Puerto Rico. The territory consists of four main islands: Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix, and Water Island, as well as several dozen smaller islands. The combined land area of the islands is roughly twice the size of Washington

The U.S. Virgin Islands are known for their white sand beaches, including Magens Bay and Trunk Bay, and strategic harbors, including Charlotte Amalie and Christiansted. Most of the islands, including Saint Thomas, are volcanic in origin and hilly. The highest point is Crown Mountain, Saint Thomas (474m). Saint Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, lies to the south and has a flatter terrain. The National Park Service owns more than half of Saint John, nearly all of Hassel Island, and many acres of coral reef. (See also Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Christiansted National Historic Site, and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.)

The Virgin Islands lie on the boundary of the North American plate and the Caribbean Plate. Natural hazards include earthquakes, tropical cyclones, and tsunamis.

Politics

Main article: Politics of the United States Virgin Islands
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are an organized, unincorporated United States territory. Even though they are U.S. citizens, Virgin Island residents cannot vote in presidential elections (although, being citizens, this franchise is extended to them should they become residents of one of the 50 states.)

The main political parties in the U.S. Virgin Islands are the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands, the Independent Citizens Movement, and the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands. Additional candidates run as independents.

At the national level, the U.S. Virgin Islands elects a delegate to Congress from its at-large congressional districtImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif . However, the elected delegate, while able to vote in committee, cannot participate in floor votes. The current House of Representatives delegate is Donna Christensen (D).

At the territorial level, 15 senators—seven from the district of Saint Croix, seven from the district of Saint Thomas and Saint John, and one senator at-large who must be a resident of Saint John—are elected for two-year terms to the unicameral Virgin Islands Legislature.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has elected a territorial governor every four years since 1970. Previous governors were appointed by the President of the United States.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has a District Court, Supreme Court and Superior Court. The District Court is responsible for federal law, while the Superior Court is responsible for Virgin Islands law at the trial level and the Supreme Court is responsible for appeals from the Superior Court for all appeals filed on or after January 29, 2007. Appeals filed prior to that date are heard by the Appellate Division of the District Court. Judges are appointed by the President and the governor respectively.

The United States Congress has never organized local referendums to aid in the self-determination. As with Puerto Rico, the residents have been given the choice of independence, status quo, or statehood via local plebiscites not validated or approved by the U.S congress. However, these measures have failed to attract sufficient civic interest or voter turn-out to produce even a noteworthy plurality, much less a majority, and thus the islands will retain their current territorial status for the foreseeable future. It is theorized that Puerto Rican requests for political self-determination might serve as a catalyst for political interest in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as in other American territories.

With much controversy, these efforts by the federal government to normalize the unincorporated territory's status are completely discounted by the United Nations Committee on Decolonization, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are currently in the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Economy

Main article: Economy of the United States Virgin Islands

Tourism is the primary economic activity. The islands normally host 2 million visitors a year, many of whom visit on cruise ships. Public access to beaches is considered a civil right. (Public access over land, however, is not.)

The manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, textile, electronics, rum distilling, pharmaceutical, and watch assembly plants. The agricultural sector is small, with most food being imported. International business and financial services are a small but growing component of the economy. Hovensa, one of the world's largest petroleum refineries, is located on Saint Croix.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are permanently on Atlantic Standard Time and do not participate in Daylight Saving Time. When the U.S. is on Standard Time, the U.S. Virgin Islands are one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. When the U.S. is on Daylight Saving Time, Eastern Daylight Time is the same as Atlantic Standard Time.

The islands are subject to tropical storms and hurricanes. In recent history, substantial damage was caused by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. The islands were also struck by Hurricane Bertha in 1996, Hurricane Georges in 1998 and Hurricane Lenny in 1999, but damage was not as severe in those hurricanes.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is the only part of the United States where traffic drives on the left, though almost all vehicles are left hand drive (as they are imported from the United States). See Right Hand Driving: Caribbean.

Demographics

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 108,612 people, 40,648 households, and 26,636 families residing in the territory. The racial makeup of the territory was 76.19% Black or African Descent, 13.09% White, 7.23% from other races, and 3.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.99% of the population.

There were 40,648 households out of which 34.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.2% were married couples living together, 24.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.5% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.34.

In the territory the population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males. The annual population growth is -0.12%.

The median income for a household in the territory was $24,704, and the median income for a family was $28,553. Males had a median income of $28,309 versus $22,601 for females. The per capita income for the territory was $13,139. About 28.7% of families and 32.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.7% of those under age 18 and 29.8% of those age 65 or over.

Districts and sub-districts

Main article: Districts and sub-districts of the United States Virgin Islands
Districts and Sub-districts of the U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are administratively divided into two districts and subdivided into 20 sub-districts.

The districts are:

Sub-districts of Saint Croix:

  1. Anna's Hope Village
  2. Christiansted
  3. East End (St. Croix)
  4. Frederiksted
  5. Northcentral
  6. Northwest
  7. Sion Farm
  8. Southcentral
  9. Southwest

Sub-districts of Saint Thomas:

  1. Charlotte Amalie
  2. East End (St. Thomas)
  3. Northside
  4. Southside
  5. Tutu
  6. Hassel Island
  7. West End

Sub-districts of Saint John:

  1. Central
  2. Coral Bay
  3. Cruz Bay
  4. East End (St. John)

The fourth U.S. Virgin Island is Water Island, formerly a district of St. Thomas.

See also

All wikimedia projects
Articles on this topic in other Wikimedia projects can be found at: United States Virgin Islands

References

  1. ^ 2000 Population Counts for the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. ^ a b A Brief History of the Danish West Indies, 1666-1917, Danish National Archives
  3. ^ Anderson, David G. Archaeology in the Caribbean: The Water Island Archaeological Project. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Greenville, S.C., 12 November 1998. Online publication by National Park Service, US Dep of the Interior. Retrieved 6 September 2007.
  4. ^ Poinski, Megan. "Water Island appears frozen in time, but big plans run under the surface - V.I. says land acquired from the feds is about to undergo large-scale improvements". The Virgin Islands Daily News, 18 November 2005, online edition. Retrieved 6 September 2007.

External links

Official sites

News and media


CoordinatesImage:Wp_globe_tiny.gif: 18°20′N, 64°50′WLatitude: 18°19′60″N
Longitude: 64°49′60″W

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at United States Virgin Islands. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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