During the 17th century, the archipelago was divided into two territorial units, one English and the other Danish. Sugarcane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1917, the US purchased the Danish portion, which had been in economic decline since the abolition of slavery in 1848.
If people are going to persist with an American dream, they may as well wake up to some of this. The three islands and 60-odd cays that comprise the US Virgin Islands include some of the most magnificent coast on earth and provides a taste of paradise and a bit of light relief to millions each year.
Swanky resorts, an armada of cruise ships and a massive yacht charter industry hardly sound like the turf of the indie traveler. However, it is possible to travel the Virgin Islands - especially low-key St John - without joining Bud and Barbara on the poop deck with a piña colada in hand.
Virgin Islands National Park, renowned throughout the world for its breathtaking beauty, covers approximately 3/5 of St. John, and nearly all of Hassel Island in the Charlotte Amalie harbor on St. Thomas. Within its borders lie protected bays of crystal blue-green waters teeming with coral reef life, white sandy beaches shaded by seagrape trees, coconut palms, and tropical forests providing habitat for over 800 species of plants. To these amazing natural resources, add relics from the Pre-Colombian Amerindian Civilization, remains of the Danish Colonial Sugar Plantations, and reminders of African Slavery and the Subsistence Culture that followed during the 100 years after Emancipation - all part of the rich cultural history of the Park and its island home.
Important: Travel to U.S. Virgin Islands may require a travel visa.
Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey.
Please be sure to review Travisa's U.S. Virgin Islands visa instructions for details.
Visa instructions for other countries are available on our
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Full country name: United States Virgin Islands
Capital city: Charlotte Amalie
Area: 1,910 sq km
Ethnic groups: black 76.2%, white 13.1%, Asian 1.1%, other 6.1%, mixed 3.5%
Languages: English 74.7%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 16.8%, French or French Creole 6.6%, other 1.9%
Religions: Protestant 59%
Chief of State: President Barack H. OBAMA
Head of Government: Governor John DeJONGH
GDP: 1.577 billion
GDP per captia: 14,500
Annual growth rate: 2%
Agriculture: fruit, vegetables, sorghum
Major industries: tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics
Natural resources: sun, sand, sea, surf
Location: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico