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Wednesday 13th December
US Virgin Islands Facts
The Virgin Islands are in the Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico.

The islands belong to a group known as the Leeward Islands which are part of the Lesser Antilles island chain. Other islands in the group include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat and St Kitts and Nevis.

The archipelago of the Virgin Islands is divided into two territories, the British Virgin Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.

The Territory of the United States Virgin Islands consists of the islands of St Croix, St Thomas, St John, and Water Island, as well as a number of smaller islands and cays.

St Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands.

The highest point on the United States Virgin Islands is Crown Mountain (474 m) on St Thomas.

Saint Thomas has a deep natural harbour.

The islands are situated along the Anegada Passage which is an important shipping lane for the Panama Canal.

Arawak and Carib people were early inhabitants of the Virgin Islands.

Columbus named the islands "Las Virgines" after the story of St Ursula and her virgin companions.

Christopher Columbus, in the service of Spain, landed in Saint Croix in 1493. Columbus gave the island the name of Santa Cruz but the French renamed it Saint Croix in 1650.

The Dutch and English founded settlements on the islands in the seventeenth century.

The Knights of Malta (the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem) spent some time living on the islands.

In the 1660s the French colonized the islands which were eventually sold to Denmark.

Charlotte Amalie, the capital, was founded by the Danes. Charlotte Amalie was the name of a Danish queen.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the British occupied the Danish Virgin Islands between 1807 and 1815.

African slaves, who worked on the plantations, gained their freedom in 1848.

The USA bought the "Danish West Indies" during the First World War. The US government paid twenty-five million dollars for the islands excluding Water Island.

The US government bought Water Island for ten thousand dollars during the Second World War in 1944.

Water Island was transferred to the USVI territorial government at the end of 1996.

The chief of state of the USVI is the President of the United States. The government of the Virgin Islands is headed by an elected governor and lieutenant governor.

Hurricanes which have caused damage in the United States Virgin Islands include Hurricane Hugo (1989) and Hurricane Marilyn (1995).

The Virgin Islands Daily News is a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper.

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