St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are in turn part of the Leeward Islands. The U.S. Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, along with the much smaller but historically distinct Water Island, and many other surrounding minor islands. The total land area of the territory is 133 square miles. The territory's capital is Charlotte Amalie on the island of Saint Thomas. The 2010 the population was 106,00 mostly comprised of people of Afro-Caribbean descent.

They were bought in a foray into colonialism by the United States a century ago, and it appears that their legal position relative to the USA has yet to be resolved. They occupy a peculiar legal limbo. Formerly the Danish West Indies, they were sold to the United States by Denmark in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies of 1916. Following many years of negotiating between Denmark and the USA, Denmark wanted the deal done before the USA entered World War 1, after which a sale would have compromised Danish neutrality. The two sides agreed to a sale price of $25,000,000, and the United States accepted a Danish demand for a declaration stating that they would "not object to the Danish Government extending their political and economic interests to the whole of Greenland."

The U.S. Virgin Islands are today an unincorporated United States territory. Even though they are U.S. citizens, U.S. Virgin Islands residents cannot vote in presidential elections. U.S. Virgin Islands residents, however, are able to vote in presidential primary elections for delegates to the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention. Unlike persons born on the mainland and naturalized citizens who derive their citizenship from the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. constitution, those born in the U.S. Virgin Islands derive their U.S. citizenship from Congressional statute.

They are classified by the UN as a Non-Self-Governing Territory. The U.S. Virgin Islands are organized under the 1954 Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands and have since held five constitutional conventions. The last proposed a Constitution, adopted by the Fifth Constitutional Convention in 2009, which was rejected by the U.S. Congress in 2010, which urged the convention to reconvene to address the concerns Congress and the Obama Administration had with the proposed document. The convention reconvened in October 2012 to address these concerns, but was unable to produce a revised Constitution before its October 31 deadline. So there it stands for now.

Tourism is the primary economic activity, although there is a significant rum manufacturing sector.

Click on any of the small photos to get a larger version of that photo

Our ship at its berth They were looking for Chris We found a peaceful dock far from the ship and enjoyed a beer.
We came across this converted old warehouse, with lots of picturesque shops, including an ice cream parlour for the hungry.
Seaplanes are regular transport The occasional old building Politicians will always be with us In case of fire...
  The public transport is cheerful Goodbye to St Thomas  

The Virgin Islands were originally inhabited by the Ciboney, Carib, and Arawaks. The islands were named by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 after Saint Ursula and her virgin followers.

Over the next two hundred years, the islands were held by many European powers, including Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark-Norway. The Danish West India Company settled on Saint Thomas in 1672, on Saint John in 1694, and purchased Saint Croix from France in 1733. The islands became royal Danish colonies in 1754, named the Danish West Indian Islands). Sugarcane, produced by slave labour, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries, until the abolition of slavery by Governor Peter von Scholten in 1848. For the remainder of the period of Danish rule, the islands were not economically viable and significant transfers were made from the Danish state budgets to the authorities in the islands.

In 1867 a treaty to sell Saint Thomas and Saint John to the United States was agreed, but the sale was never effected. A number of reforms aimed at reviving the islands' economy were attempted, but none had great success. A second draft treaty to sell the islands to the United States was negotiated in 1902 but was defeated in the upper house of the Danish parliament in a tied ballot. The onset of World War I brought the reforms to a close and again left the islands isolated and exposed. During the submarine warfare phases of the First World War, the United States, fearing that the islands might be seized by Germany as a submarine base, again approached Denmark with a view to buying them. After a few months of negotiations, a selling price of $25 million in United States gold coin was agreed (this is equivalent to $580 million in 2013 dollars). At the same time the economics of continued possession weighed heavily on the minds of Danish decision makers, and a consensus in favour of selling emerged in the Danish parliament.

The United States took possession of the islands on March 31, 1917 and the territory was renamed the Virgin Islands of the United States. U.S. citizenship was granted to the inhabitants of the islands in 1927. Water Island, a small island to the south of Saint Thomas, was initially administered by the U.S. federal government and did not become a part of the U.S. Virgin Islands territory until 1996.

As with Philipsburg in St Martin, the town of Amalie Charlotte fills up with cruise ships at 8am, and they leave by 6pm. The main street is, would you believe it, full of jewellery and souvenir shops. You really cannot tell these Caribbean towns, that have cruise ship docking, apart any more

We walked the walk into town, wandered round, enjoyed an ice cream in one of the few old buildings left in Charlotte Amalie, and a few hours later were back on board our ship.

Our Norwegian Getaway Cruise