|US Virgin Islands History|
The US Virgin Islands are part of the Lesser Antilles and are also part of the whole Virgin Islands conglomerate. There are three main islands that comprise the US Virgin Islands and these are Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas. The population as of 2008 was just over 108,000 people, living on a total land mass of just over 133 square miles. So apart from this geography, what else is there to know about the US Virgin Islands? Here is a brief US Virgin Islands history to tell you more about them.
The original inhabitants of the islands were the Arawaks and the Caribs. The Arawaks were the first on the islands and would have been replaced by the Caribs. The Caribbean was named after this tribe and they were a fiercely aggressive tribe that was able to invade almost all parts of the Caribbean before European settlement. US Virgin Islands history is no different in this respect to that of any other island from this part of the world.
It was only by chance that the US Virgin Islands history was given a European flavor, when Sir Christopher Columbus was blown off course. He explored all three main islands and gave them their names, while capturing six Arawaks to act as his guide. He quickly moved on after his discovery caused a fight between himself and the Caribs - not easy opponents. The settlement was left to other explorers who tried, in vain, to covert the Caribs to Catholicism. Instead, many of them were enslaved to work on plantations producing tobacco, coffee, sugar and cotton.
As early as the 17th century, there wear no remaining Arawaks and the Caribs were following them to extinction on the islands. Diseases, mass suicide and murder all pushed the population off the edge. The resolve of the slaves was pushed to breaking point after a drought and hurricane left them with very little. The led to rebellion and quite a successful one at that; they managed to gain control of the island for an entire six months, before the French assisted the Danish in regaining control over the islands. 1848 marked a more decisive point in Us Virgin Islands history when another rebellion led to the freedom of thousands of slaves. The man who freed them was jailed even though slavery was abolished just a few years afterwards.
US Purchases the Island
The US wanted the island in case the Germans tried to capture it after invading Denmark in the First World War. The islands were purchased for $25 million in 1917 and they converted them into an unincorporated US territory. All citizens were granted US citizenship in 1927. The islands became self governing in 1968 after having elected their own governor, after the Second World War.
The Us Virgin Islands history is one of slow change and international democracy. They began offering fierce resistance to invasion yet were slowly wiped out by European diseases and murder. Slavery played its part, as it had done on other Caribbean islands and the modern population thus has many slavery connections. A successful rebellion is a rare sight in these areas and the six month period of control showcases the full slave anguish and desire for freedom.
Nowadays, the islands are a popular tourist destination due to their fantastic climate, beautiful beaches, and warm hospitality.