Located 1,100 miles to the southeast of Miami lies the beautiful United States Virgin Islands. Consisting of the three main islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Croix, the islands were originally inhabited by the Ciboney, Carib and Arawaks tribes when they were discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second expedition for Spain in 1493. Many European countries held power over the islands for the years following, but it wasn't until 1672 that the Danish West India Company settled on Saint Thomas.
By 1754 the islands, now known as the Danish-West Indian Islands, had become royal Danish colonies. The Danish used slave labor to produce sugarcane during the 18th and 19th centuries to propel the islands economy. In July of 1848 slavery was abolished by Governor Peter Von Scholten and consequently the sugarcane industry and economy of the islands suffered. Years would pass with little thought of the islands until the United States feared they could be used as a submarine base for the Germans during World War I. In 1917 the United States bought the Virgin Islands from the Danes for $25 million in gold. In 1927, US citizenship was granted to the Islanders.
The United States Virgin Islands are part of the Leeward Islands in the northern Caribbean Sea. The three main islands, Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix, a smaller island known as Water Island and the approximately fifty very small islets make up the 133 square miles of the United States Virgin Islands. Part of the Virgin Island archipelago, the two main islands of Saint Thomas and Saint John are volcanic in origin. They are both hilly islands with very little flatland. The highest point of the islands is Crown Mountain, on Saint Thomas, at 1,556 feet above sea level. Saint Croix lies approximately 40 miles to the south and is the largest of the United States Virgin Islands at 84 square miles. Saint Croix was formed by a coral reef and is less hilly than the other islands. All the islands feature beautiful clear blue water and white sand beaches.
Moderated by the east trade winds, the tropical islands have an arid climate. Along with low humidity, the daily average temperatures range from 83°F in the summer to 77°F in the winter. The United States Virgin Islands experience an average of 38 inches of rain per year with October and November being the rainiest months. Along with the rest of the Caribbean, the United States Virgin Islands occasionally have to deal with hurricanes.
The culture of the United States Virgin Islands is rooted in history. Much of the culture reflects West African, French, American and Danish influences. The official language is English, but the dominate language is an English based Creole. The capital Charlotte Amalie, on Saint Thomas, is considered to have one of the most beautiful harbors in the world, and the Danish architectural influence on Saint Croix is stunning. Rich in culture and natural beauty, the United States Virgin Islands makes for the perfect destination spot.
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