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Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands Collection

History Archive - Virgin Islands Collection

VIRGIN ISLANDS. A group of the Leeward Islands, consisting of upward of 100 islands, situated immediately east of Porto Rico (Map: Antilles, P 5). They are mostly unproductive and uninhabited. Scarcely one-third of the area is in cultivation and occupied—about 270 square miles being inhabited by nearly 40,000 persons. The Virgin Islands were discovered by Columbus in 1494.

The climate is comparatively healthful. There are two wet and two dry seasons. Hurricanes and earthquakes are somewhat frequent. In the geological formation figure chalk-limestone, serpentine, and eruptive stone. The coasts afford good fishing; nut trees abound in the forests; and there is fine pasturage. Among the exports are sugar, indigo, cotton, and salt.

The American islands are St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, Vieques, and Quelebra. The three former, with 50 smaller ones, form the Danish West Indies (formerly to Spain). These were purchased by the United States from Denmark and were formally transferred on March 31, 1917. Payment of $25,000,000 was made for these islands.

The islands belonging to the United States have a total area of 132 square miles, and a population of about 27,000. There are three cities, Charlotte Amalie, on the island of St. Thomas; Christiansted and Frederiksted on the island of St. Croix. Agriculture is the chief occupation of the inhabitants. The island of St. John is noted for its bay oil and St. Thomas for bay rum. The Islands are administered by a rear-admiral of the United States Navy.


The New International Encyclopædia pg. 169 (1905)

Collier's New Encyclopedia pg. 232. (1921)

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