View of St. Thomas
Map of U.S. Virgin Islands
|Archipelago||Virgin Islands, Leeward Islands|
|Area||31.14 sq mi (80.7 km2)|
|Highest point||1,550 or 474 meters|
|Insular area||Virgin Islands|
|Largest settlement||Charlotte Amalie (pop. 18,481)|
|Population||51,634 (as of 2010)|
|Density||638.17 /km2 (1,652.85 /sq mi)|
Saint Thomas (Spanish: Santo Tomás; Dutch: Sint-Thomas; Danish: Sankt Thomas) is one of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea and, together with St. John and Water Island, forms a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie. As of the 2010 census, the population of Saint Thomas was 51,634 about 48.5% of the US Virgin Islands total. The district has a land area of 31.24 square miles (80.9 km2).
The island was originally settled around 1500 BC by the Ciboney people. They were later replaced by the Arawaks and then the Caribs. Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1493 on his second voyage to the "New World".
The Dutch West India Company established a post on Saint Thomas in 1657. The first congregation was the St. Thomas Reformed Church, which was established in 1660 and was associated with the Dutch Reformed Church.
The Danish conquered the island in 1666, and by 1672 had established control over the entire island through the Danish West India and Guinea Company. The land was divided into plantations and sugarcane production became the primary economic activity. As a result, the economies of Saint Thomas and the neighboring islands of Saint John and Saint Croix became highly dependent on slave labor and the slave trade. In 1685, the Brandenburgisch-Africanische Compagnie took control of the slave trade on Saint Thomas, and for some time the largest slave auctions in the world were held there.
Saint Thomas's fine natural harbor became known as "Taphus" for the drinking establishments located nearby. ("Tap Hus" translates as "rum shop" or "tap house" referring to the drinking establishments. In 1691, the primary settlement there was renamed Charlotte Amalie in honor of the wife of Denmark's King Christian V. It was later declared a free port by Frederick V.
In 1917, St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) by the United States for $25 million in gold, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War. The transfer occurredon March 31, 1917, behind Fort Christian before the barracks that now house the Legislature of the U.S Virgin Islands. The baccalaureate service for the transfer was held at the St. Thomas Reformed Church as it was identified as the American church in the Danish West Indies.
U.S. citizenship was granted to the residents in 1927. The U.S. Department of the Interior took over administrative duties in 1931. American forces were based on the island during the Second World War. In 1954, passage of the U.S. Virgin Islands Organic Act officially granted territorial status to the three islands, and allowed for the formation of a local senate with politics dominated by the American Republican and Democratic parties. Full home rule was achieved in 1970.
The island is served by numerous Major, Regional and Commuter Airlines at Cyril E. King Airport.
Air Sunshine has flights to and from St,Thomas(STT),San Juan ( SJU), St.Maarten(SXM),Anguilla(AXA),Tortola(EIS),Virgin Gorda(VIJ) , Dominica(DOM),Nevis(NEV) and Vieques(VQS) on a reular basis and the destination of your choice on demand.
The United States Virgin Islands is the only place under United States jurisdiction where the rule of the road is to drive on the left.
This was inherited from what was the then-current Danish practice at the time of the American acquisition in 1917. However, because St. Thomas is a U.S. territory, most cars are imported from the mainland United States and therefore the steering column is located on the left side of the vehicle.
Points of interest
- Blackbeard's Castle
- Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge
- Cathedral Church of All Saints
- Fort Christian
- Magens Bay Arboretum
- Magens Bay
- Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
- St. Thomas Reformed Church
- St. Thomas Synagogue
- Coral World Ocean Park
- St. Johns Bay Rum Factory