U.S. Virgin Islands History and Geography

By | November 11, 2021

Located in Central America according to itypetravel.com, the Virgin Islands of the United States (United States Virgin Islands) are a group of islands located in the Caribbean, dependent on the United States of America. These islands are part of the Virgin Islands archipelago; It is made up of four main islands (Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix and Water Island) and some minor islands. It is one of the 16 non-autonomous territories under the supervision of the United Nations Decolonization Committee, in order to eliminate colonialism.


The Virgin Islands were inhabited by various indigenous groups, especially the Siboney, the Caribs, and the Arawaks. The navigator Christopher Columbus spotted these islands in 1493 during his second voyage, and named them in honor of Saint Ursula and her virgins. In the three hundred years that followed, the administration of these islands fell to various European colonizers: Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, the Order of Malta, and Denmark. The Danish West Indies Company reached the island of Saint Thomas (Saint Thomas) in 1672 and Saint John (Saint John) in 1694. In 1733, the Danes bought the island of Santa Cruz (Saint Croix) from the French. In 1754, the islands became a colony of the Danish Kingdom, called Jomfruøerne.

The harvest of sugar cane by slaves dominated the economy of the islands in the 18th and 19th centuries, until the abolition of slavery decreed by Governor Peter von Scholten on July 3, 1848. During the phase of submarine warfare in World War I, the United States, fearing a possible capture of the Virgin Islands by Germany to use as a naval base, pressured the Kingdom of Denmark to sell this territory.

Fearing that if Germany invaded Denmark, the United States would conquer the islands, the Nordic country accepted the offer. The 17 of January of 1917, the United States bought the territory of the Danish West Indies for $ 25 million, taking office on March 31. In 1927, the United States granted citizenship to all the residents of the islands.


They are located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, 80.5 km east of Puerto Rico. The territory is made up of four main islands: Saint Thomas (Santo Tomás), Saint John (San Juan), Saint Croix (Santa Cruz) and Water Island, as well as a dozen small islands. Its capital is Charlotte Amalie (Carlota Amalia).

They are known for their white sand beaches, including Magens Bay and Truk Bay, and strategic ports, including Carlota Amalia and Christiansted. Many of the islands, including Saint Thomas, are volcanic and mountainous in origin. The highest point is Crown Mountain (474 m) in Saint Thomas. Saint Croix, the largest of the islands, lies to the south and has flat terrain. The National Park Service owns more than half of Saint John Island, around all of Hassel Island, and several acres of coral reefs. The islands lie on the boundary of the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. Natural phenomena such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis occur.


The climate of the islands is tropical humid with an average of 26 ºC depending on the altitude. It is about the monsoon climate and the trade winds on the coast, with average rainfall of about 1,500 mm. The United States Virgin Islands are affected by hurricanes that are generated in the Atlantic.

Flora and fauna

The flora and fauna are those of the biogeographic empire and the neotropical ecozone, with some endemisms, typical of the islands. San Vicente has an extensive rain forest of great variety.

US Virgin Islands National Park

The Virgin Islands National Park covers approximately 60% of the island of Saint John and other parts of the neighboring island of St. Thomas. This place is famous for diving, snorkelling and has several kilometers of hiking trails through the tropical forests.

A large part of the vegetation found in this park is second-generation, because almost the entire island was razed to make room for sugarcane production during colonial times. Some native species such as palm trees are still preserved, but the vast majority are species brought from elsewhere.

The beautiful beaches of this park are something that tourists cannot miss as well as the visitor center in Cruz Bay that has an exhibition of natural and cultural resources with some examples of reef fish and corals, as well as the Cinnamon Bay, in where you can visit an archeology laboratory and see some artifacts excavated from this island.

Trunk bay is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and has an underwater path for snorkelers and divers to follow.

Charlotte amalie

Carlota Amalia (in English: Charlotte Amalie), is the capital and main port of the Virgin Islands of the United States, a territory of the United States. It is located on the south side of the island of Santo Tomás. Charlotte Amalie is also the name of the deep-sea port that was once the possession of pirates and is now a famous cruise port. Charlotte Amalie has historically significant buildings and is home to the second oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.

The city is built on three colonies and owes its name to Queen Charlotte Amalia of Hesse-Kassel (1650 – 1714), consort of King Christian V of Denmark.


In 1672 the Danes founded the first permanent settlement there, naming it Amalienborg or Charlotte Amalia, after their Queen. The city is also popularly known as Saint Thomas, which was the official name from 1921 to 1936. It became the capital of the US territory of the Virgin Islands in 1917, when the former Danish West Antilles were acquired by the United States.


Its economy is based on tourism and the export of rum, woolen fabrics, jewelry and sugar. Local industries include shipbuilding, rum and alcohol distilleries, and handicraft production.

Places of interest

Of main interest is Fort Christian, built in 1671 ; Berreta is the shopping area; and the French town area. Charlotte Amalie is the site of the University and Museum of the Virgin Islands.

U.S. Virgin Islands History