Virgin Islands - US

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Geography of Virgin Islands - US

Location: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico Geographic coordinates: 18 20 N, 64 50 W Map references: Central America and the Caribbean Area: total area: 352 sq km land area: 349 sq km comparative area: twice the size of Washington, DC Land boundaries: 0 km Coastline: 188 km Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 nm territorial sea: 12 nm International disputes: none Climate: subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season May to November Terrain: mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Crown Mountain 474 m Natural resources: sun, sand, sea, surf Land use: arable land: 15% permanent crops: 6% meadows and pastures: 26% forest and woodland: 6% other: 47% Irrigated land: NA sq km Environment: current issues: lack of natural freshwater resources natural hazards: rarely affected by hurricanes; frequent and severe droughts, floods, and earthquakes international agreements: NA Geographic note: 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

Government of Virgin Islands - US

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History of Virgin Islands - US

The history of the Virgin Islands is woven into a rich tapestry of tales. It all started with Christopher Columbus' second voyage in 1493. He first sighted St. Croix, which he named Santa Cruz and claimed for Spain. Sailing further North, he found endless islands and christened them Las Islas Virgenes - The Virgin Islands. After this excitement, the islands drowsed on, stirred only by an occassional passing buccaneer or explorer. In the 1600's European powers continued to claim and settle Caribbean islands. At various times, Holland, France, England, Spain, Denmark and the Knights of Malta all wanted to possess the Virgin Islands. In 1671, Denmark clearly ruled St. Thomas, establishing the first permanent settlement there. In 1685, the Danes signed a treaty with the Dutchy of Brandenburg to allow the Brandenburg American Company to establish a slave-trading post on the island. At about the same time, the early governors gave their tacit approval to the use of St. Thomas as a pirate refuge, knowing that the local merchants would benefit from the open sale of pirate booty on the city streets. But while piracy ceased to be a factor in the island's economy in the early 19th century, the slave trade continued until 1848. From 1700 to 1750, when piracy already was on the wane, legitimate trade was on the upswing and prosperous merchants replaced buccaneers on Dronnigens Gade (Main Street) in Charlotte Amalie. By 1718 they Denmark's island settlements expanded to St. John. A fort was constructed in Coral Bay, one of the safest harbors in the Caribbean. In 1733, Denmark arranged to purchase St. Croix from France, uniting the three Virgin Islands of today. During this colonial period, St. Thomas was known as a shopper's paradise for pirates and buccaneers, who perched atop the mountains to "spyglass" approaching ships. The most famous and colorful was Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard. Legand has it that he sipped rum laced with gunpowder from his stronghold at Blackbeard's Tower. The Danish Crown declared St. Thomas a free port in 1724. Throughout the 18th century the islands prospered with sugar plantations and St. Thomas became a major trading emporium until 1848 when Denmark abolished slavery. The United States bought the islands in 1917, as part of its military defense strategy, for $25 million. The US wanted to prevent the islands from becoming a German sub base. But not until 1927 were residents granted U.S. citizenship. During World War II, St. Thomas was developed as a defense base. When World War II ended, St. Thomas moved into a new position of eminence as a tourist mecca. The Military and the Interior Department managed the territory until the passage of the Organic Act in 1936. Today, the islands are a choice port of call among cruise lines and a popular vacation destination. Although the islands hard hit by Hurricane Marilyn in September 1995, the islands' hotels, shops and attractions have recovered from the storm. On of the latest signs of the islands' growth was the official addition of Water Island to the Virgin Islands in 1996. Located just off the southern coast of St Thomas, the island belonged to the U.S. Department of the Interior, who received title from the U.S. Army in 1952. Once a strategic military base during World War II, the island is a tranquil retreat with secluded beaches and resorts, making it a soothing addition to the Virgin Island's Charms.

People of Virgin Islands - US

Population: 122,211 (July 2001 est.) Age structure: 0-14 years: 27.27% (male 17,121; female 16,204) 15-64 years: 63.92% (male 35,391; female 42,727) 65 years and over: 8.81% (male 4,638; female 6,130) (2001 est.) Population growth rate: 1.06% (2001 est.) Birth rate: 15.9 births/1,000 population (2001 est.) Death rate: 5.47 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.) Net migration rate: 0.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.) Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.83 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female total population: 0.88 male(s)/female (2001 est.) Infant mortality rate: 9.43 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.27 years male: 74.38 years female: 82.39 years (2001 est.) Total fertility rate: 2.25 children born/woman (2001 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA Nationality: noun: Virgin Islander(s) adjective: Virgin Islander Ethnic groups: black 80%, white 15%, other 5% note: West Indian (45% born in the Virgin Islands and 29% born elsewhere in the West Indies) 74%, US mainland 13%, Puerto Rican 5%, other 8% Religions: Baptist 42%, Roman Catholic 34%, Episcopalian 17%, other 7% Languages: English (official), Spanish, Creole Literacy: definition: NA total population: NA% male: NA% female: NA%