American Virgin Islands

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United States Virgin Islands
American Virgin Islands
American Virgin Islands flag
US Virgin Islands Coat of Arms
flag seal
Motto : United in Pride and Hope
(English for "United in pride and hope")
Official language English
Capital Charlotte Amalie
Form of government unincorporated U.S. territory
Head of state President Donald Trump
Head of government Governor Albert Bryan
surface 346 km²
population 106.405
Population density 307 inhabitants per km²
currency US dollar (USD)
National anthem Virgin Islands March
Time zone UTC − 4
Internet TLD .vi
Telephone code +1 (340) see NANP
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Political Affiliation:
  • Spanish Virgin Islands (to Puerto Rico )
  • American Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico (to USA )
  • View of the Mary Point peninsula to the north of Saint John

    The American Virgin Islands ( English United States Virgin Islands , Virgin Islands of the United States or USVI for short ) are a non- incorporated outer area of ​​the United States . Geographically, they are part of the island group of the Virgin Islands located in the Caribbean , east of Puerto Rico . They consist of the three main islands of Saint Croix , Saint John and Saint Thomas . In 1996 the federal government of the United States transferred Water Island to the outskirts. There are also numerous smaller islands.



    The landscape is mostly stony, hilly to mountainous with only a little flat surface. The highest point is Crown Mountain at 474 m above sea level. The climate on the islands is tropical. It is tempered by easterly winds with low humidity and only slight temperature differences over the year. The rainy season is from May to November, although deviations are possible here. The islands lie along the Anegada Passage , a shipping route to the Panama Canal .

    The islands have been exposed to several tropical storms in recent years. There are frequent periods of severe drought or floods, and occasional earthquakes . There is a lack of natural freshwater resources .

    Protected areas

    The Virgin Islands National Park, founded in 1956, is located on the islands of Saint John and Hassel .

    The coral reefs in the east of the island of St. John have been designated as the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument since 2001 .

    List of islands

    The following islands and archipelagos are part of the US Virgin Islands:


    The US Virgin Islands have a population of about 108,605. 42% are Baptists , 34% Catholics and 17% Anglicans . 76.0% of the population are descended from former African slaves, there are also people of mixed origins (2.1%) and some whites (15.6%) and Asians (1.4%). The indigenous people were exterminated in the 16th century. In addition to the official language English, an English-based Creole is spoken. Since the islands are home to many immigrants from other Caribbean countries, Spanish and French-based Creole languages are also common.

    Life expectancy on the island was 80.0 years in 2016 (women: 83.2 years / men: 77.0 years). The median age of the population was very high at 45.6 years (as of 2016). Due to the high number of people leaving the island, the population decreased slightly at the beginning of the 21st century, but has increased again in recent years.

    Population development

    year population
    1950 26,797
    1960 33,135
    1970 64,726
    1980 99,080
    1990 103,756
    2000 108,722
    2010 106,149
    2018 110.056

    Source: UN


    Early colonial history

    The islands inhabited by Taíno were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 . On November 14, 1493 he first set foot on an island, which he gave the name Santa Cruz ( Saint Croix ). Then he sailed 70 km north to the islands of Saint Thomas and Saint John . Because of the large number of smaller islands and their beauty, he called them (according to the legend of Saint Ursula and her 11,000 companions who are said to have suffered their martyrdom near Cologne ) the "Virgin Islands " (Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes , in short: Las Vírgenes) . Saint Croix was only later included in the Virgin Islands.

    After attempts to settle on St. Croix by the English and Dutch from 1625, the Spanish and French took possession of it from 1650. In 1653, St. Croix was taken over by the Order of Malta , but in 1665 it was repurchased by France.

    Danish West Indies

    On March 30, 1666, the Dannebrog was hoisted on St. Thomas, which from then on belonged to Denmark-Norway (Danish West Indies) as a Danish colony . In 1672, Danish settlers built the first permanent settlement on St. Thomas, and in 1685 Benjamin Raule, General Director of the Brandenburg Navy, signed a contract with representatives of the Danish-West Indian-Guinean Company to lease part of St. Thomas to Brandenburg. In 1689 Brandenburg occupied the crab island between Saint Thomas and Puerto Rico .

    In 1693 the Danes confiscated the Brandenburg factories without encountering any resistance. In 1694 the settlers also spread to Saint John . On August 13, 1720, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I signed a document in which he spoke to the Dutch trading company on all former Brandenburg areas in Africa ( Arguin , now Mauritania , and Groß Friedrichsburg on the Gold Coast , now Ghana ) and St. Thomas ( Virgin Islands , USA ) waived.

    Fort in Frederiksted on St. Croix

    Saint Croix, in French possession since 1674, was acquired by Denmark in 1733. The trade with the Danish West Indies gained importance for the city ​​of Flensburg (before 1864), which at that time belonged to the Danish state, through the import and processing of cane sugar . In 1733 and 1848 there was a slave revolt against the Danes here.

    United States Territory

    Because the United States needed a naval base in the area during World War I , it acquired the islands from Denmark in 1917 for $ 25 million. Adjusted for inflation, this is 498 million dollars, 420 million euros and 452 million Swiss francs, respectively, according to today's value.

    PW Sparks, a US Navy officer , designed the flag of the United States Virgin Islands. After his superior Admiral Kitelle had approved the design, Sparks had the first flag sewn by his wife and her sister. For the design he adopted symbols from the seal of the President of the United States. The three arrows in the bald eagle's claws represent the three islands, the olive branch, as in the model, for peace.

    The United States has guaranteed its residents American citizenship since 1927 . The US Department of the Interior took on administrative duties in 1931. The territory has been on the UN list of sovereign territories without self-government since 1946 .


    The islands' road network is 856 km long. The islands are the only US property with left-hand traffic .

    Saint Thomas has one of the best natural harbors in the Caribbean . There are also ports in Christiansted , Cruz Bay and Port Alucroix .

    There are also three airports : Downtown Heliport on the island of Saint Croix, Henry E. Rohlson Airport on the island of Saint Croix and the Cyril E. King airport on the island of Saint Thomas.


    The focus of the economy is on tourism , which accounts for more than 70% of the gross national product and 70% of employment. An average of two million tourists visit the islands every year. The gross domestic product in 2013 was 36,100 US dollars per capita. This is at the level of the developed industrial countries, but well below the level of the US mainland.

    The industrial sector consists mainly of petroleum refineries and the manufacture of textiles, electronics, pharmaceutical products and the final assembly of clocks. One of the world's largest oil refineries is on Saint Croix. The refinery closed in 2012 after 45 years.

    Agriculture is insignificant; most food has to be imported.

    International trade and the financial sector are small but growing industries.


    public holidays

    date Surname German name Remarks
    January 1st New Year
    January Remembrance day for Martin Luther King
    February Presidents' Day Remembrance Day for the birth of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln
    March Description day On March 31, 1917, the United States bought the islands from Denmark.
    March April End of the carnival week
    March April Maundy Thursday , Good Friday and Easter Monday Easter
    May Day of remembrance on the last Monday in May in honor of the soldiers who died in the war
    June Day of the founding statute 2 days
    3rd of July Day of Emancipation Granted in 1848 to end slavery on the Danish West Indies.
    July 4th Independence day of the United States of America
    July Storm supplication day
    September Labor Day the first Monday in September
    October Columbus day on the 2nd Monday in October
    October Storm Thanksgiving Day
    October 17th Friendship Day with Puerto Rico
    November Thanksgiving
    November Liberation Day ( Hamilton-Jackson Memorial Day) Celebrating the first free press in 1915
    November 11th War Veteran's Day Memorial Day for all veterans of the United States Armed Forces
    25 December Christmas 1st Christmas Holiday


    • Rainer DK Bruchmann: On the Brandenburg colonial history. The island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean (= Brandenburgische Entwicklungspolitische Hefte. H. 31, ISSN  0946-042X ). Unze-Verlags- und Druck-Gesellschaft, Teltow 1999.
    • Karlheinz Graudenz, Hanns Michael Schindler: The German colonies. History of the German protected areas in words, pictures and maps. 8th edition. Weltbild, Augsburg 1995, ISBN 3-89350-701-9 .
    • Paul H. Kuntze: The People's Book of Our Colonies. Georg Dollheimer, Leipzig 1938.

    Web links

    Commons : US Virgin Islands  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. World Population Prospects - Population Division - United Nations. Retrieved July 28, 2017 .
    2. ^ Congressional Record in Washington, DC, on April 30th, 1986, vol. 132, No.56, submitted by Congressman Ron de Lugo.

    Coordinates: 18 °  N , 65 °  W