|Welcome to the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands are considered an appendage or arm of the Great Atlantic Ocean flanked by South America and North America which in fact is the origin of the Gulf Stream current that lays just East of Puerto Rico. There are over 65 different islands that make up the Virgin Islands. The U.S. Virgin Islands are three distinct Islands very close to each other. St Thomas is about 3 miles from St. John. St. Thomas is 32 square miles and St. John is 28 square miles. Both of these smaller islands are countless rocky hills and white sand beaches. St. Croix, the largest of the three and is roughly 84 square miles and about 40 miles from St. Thomas. St, Croix is mostly flat with beautiful rolling hills.
As far back as we can tell there were two sets of very different Indian communities inhabiting the islands before Columbus appeared. One such tribe of Indians was called the Arawaks and the other the Caribs. The Caribs were a fierce group that came upon Columbus as he set foot on the shores of St. Croix. A battle ensued and the Caribs with there inferior weapons were captured. The Arawaks were not a warring or aggressive tribe but after the encounter with the Caribs, all natives were considered dangerous and were almost completely wiped out.
Queen Isabella of Spain gave the order to capture all natives and bring them into slavery as long as it appeared there present environment was substandard to that which they would have as a slave.
The expedition of Columbus found many islands of all shapes and sizes. He named the islands Virgin upon remembering the story of the 11,000 virgins who followed St. Ursula and were later put to death by the Huns.
Later on, the Danes argued and fought with the British for rights over the islands and finally in 1671 an agreement was in place where the British would split the islands and the Danish West Indies would consist of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.
In 1665 The French bought St. Croix from the Knights of Malta and established 80 plantations with crops from tobacco, cotton, sugar cane and indigo. Once the European nations figured out how to grow sugar cane on their own land, it was pointless to send ships to St. Croix to buy the same.
The slaves were freed in 1848 and were extremely poor with terrible conditions as the exporting of sugar cane was almost at an end. And with that the industry that had built up St. Croix was dashed. This became very evident the year the people rioted in the Fireburn of 1878.
In 1917 President Wilson and the Secretary of state Mr. Lansing transferred ownership and the good citizens of the three islands instantly became American Citizens. This was however an option. If you wanted, you could keep your Danish citizenship. There have been, through the years many famous people cruising in and out of the islands both before they became US owned and after; Sir Francis Drake, and the infamous pirate Blackbeard.
There are a number of records at the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen regarding the history before the United States occupation.
It was not until 1966 when oil was discovered on the island and a refinery was built did the citizens of St. Croix start to enjoy a better economy.It was also about that time that tourism became a leader for the beautiful islands.
Tell Us Your Interested in any island in the Virgin Islands...