Friday, January 07, 2011

Charlotte Amalie, AVI - November 6, 2009

On his second visit to America in 1493, Christopher Columbus bestowed the Virgin moniker on an archipelago of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea in honor of Saint Ursula and her virgin followers. The present US Virgin Islands was part of this group and comprises Saint Croix, Saint John, Water Island and Saint Thomas along with some smaller islets. With an area of 133 square miles - about twice the size of Washington DC - the American Virgin Islands are home to a little over 100,000 people, mainly of African descent from the days of sugar cane slavery. Over the centuries since 1493, the islands have been held by sundry European powers, including Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark-Norway.
The Danish, who held the islands in the mid 19th century, abolished slavery in 1848 rendering the entire possession a money pit that required huge subsidization for the next 60 years. Despite several attempts to sell the islands, it wasn't until WWI and the American fear of the German submarine bases being established there, that a deal was finally struck. In 1917 the USA became the new owners at a cost of $25 million - about half a billion in today's money. All the inhabitants were granted US citizenship in 1927. Today, tourism is the primary economic activity.
With a population of 19,000, the capital city of the group is Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas, named after Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel (1650–1714), queen consort to King Christian V of Denmark. The city is generally very warm and humid with average temperatures at a near constant - highs about 88°F and lows about 75°F. Click here for Slide-show.

No comments: