United States Virgin Islands
The United States Virgin Islands are a series of Caribbean Islands controlled by the United States of America. The vast majority of the islands’ population, tourist attractions, and economic drivers are located on the three main islands – Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, and Saint John – although there are a considerable number of smaller cays and islets such as Water Island within the territory as well. The United States Virgin Islands are considered a part of the Leeward Islands and the Lesser Antilles, and split the Virgin Islands archipelago with the British Virgin Islands. The United States Virgin Islands cover a total area of approximately one hundred and thirty four square miles, and include a population of about one hundred and ten thousand residents. The human history of the United States Virgin Islands began with settlement by several Amerindian groups, including the Carib and Arawak tribes. The islands were first discovered by Europeans in the late fifteenth century, specifically by Christopher Columbus. The Virgin Islands as a whole repeatedly shifted between a variety of colonial powers, including Denmark, Norway, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and ultimately the United States and the United Kingdom.
The majority of the United States Virgin Islands were created by volcanic activity, giving them a higher elevation than many other Caribbean territories and nations. The highest point of the United States Virgin Islands, Crown Mountain, is located on Saint Thomas, and measures in at more than one thousand five hundred and fifty feet above sea level. The United States Virgin Islands include a number of ecologically significant and historically important sites, including the Virgin Islands National Park, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument. The United States Virgin Islands have great weather throughout the entire year, with average temperatures normally recording between seventy and ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Although the United States Virgin Islands do include a small agricultural sector, a growing financial sector, and some manufacturing, the economy of the territory depends heavily on the two million tourists that visit the islands every year.
The United States Virgin Islands have a comprehensive public education system, including the Saint Thomas-Saint John School District and the Saint Croix School District, as well as the University of the Virgin Islands. Each of the United State Virgin Islands has its own set of attractions and things to do. Saint John’s, for instance, boasts Cinnamon Bay – full of historic sites and a great place for snorkeling and kayaking – Salt Pond Bay, with great hiking trails and swimming, and the fascinating Reef Bay Trail and Petroglyphs. Saint Croix is both the easternmost point in the United States and home to Cane Bay Beach, a variety of cultural attractions, and the Divi Carina Bay Casino. Saint Thomas is home to the great fishing of Hull Bay, the popular beach at Magens Bay, the legendary Blackbeard’s Castle, and the dramatic views of Drake’s Seat. The United States Virgin Islands have also responded to the flood of tourists and cruise ships by building a variety of world class resorts and hotels, which boast outstanding amenities and great views of the islands and ocean.