The US Virgin Islands (USVI) are a group of islands located in the Caribbean Sea. They are considered part of the Lesser Antilles, which is a group of islands that extends from the Virgin Islands in the north to Trinidad and Tobago in the south. The USVI consists of three main islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John & smaller islands like Water Island.
The US Virgin Islands is an unincorporated territory of the United States, meaning that they are under US sovereignty but are not part of the US mainland. The USVI has a unique culture, history, and economy that make it a fascinating destination for travelers.
What Islands are in the US Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are divided into two main groups: the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a separate overseas territory of the United Kingdom, while the US Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States.
The US Virgin Islands consist of three main islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John. There are also several smaller islands and cays, including Water Island, Buck Island, and Thatch Cay. Each of the islands has a rich cultural history with beautiful sites. Explore some of what these islands have to offer.
St. Thomas is the most populous of the US Virgin Islands, with approximately 42,000 people living there. It is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant nightlife. St. Thomas is also home to the capital city of the US Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie, which is a major cruise ship port and shopping destination.
Some of the most popular attractions on St. Thomas include Magens Bay, a picturesque beach that has
been named one of the best beaches in the world; Coral World Ocean Park, an aquarium and marine park that offers visitors the chance to swim with sea lions; and Blackbeard’s Castle, a historic tower that offers panoramic views of the island.
St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands and has a population of approximately 41,000 people. It is known for its historic architecture, beautiful beaches, and lush rainforests. St. Croix has a rich history, with influences from the Arawak, Carib, Spanish, French, Dutch, and English cultures.
Some of the most popular attractions on St. Croix include Buck Island Reef National Monument, a protected marine area that is home to a diverse array of marine life; Christiansted National Historic Site, a collection of historic buildings that date back to the 18th century; and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, a site that has significant historical and ecological importance.
St. John is the smallest of the three main US Virgin Islands, with approximately 3,900 inhabitants. It is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and tranquil atmosphere. Over 60% of St. John is protected as part of the Virgin Islands National Park, home to various plant and animal species.
Some of the most popular attractions on St. John include Trunk Bay, a beautiful beach that is known
for its clear waters and underwater snorkeling trail; Caneel Bay, a luxurious resort that is surrounded by lush tropical forests; and Annaberg Plantation, a historic sugar plantation that dates back to the 18th century.
Where Are the US Virgin Islands?
The US Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea, east of Puerto Rico and west of the British Virgin Islands. The USVI is easily accessible by air and sea, with direct flights available from major US cities such as Miami, New York, and Atlanta, as well as several Caribbean countries. The islands are also popular cruise ship destinations, with several major cruise lines offering itineraries that include stops in the USVI.
Climate in the USVI
The climate in the US Virgin Islands is one of its most distinct features. With the frequently sunny forecast & preferable level of humidity, this Caribbean climate is often cited as one of the main reasons to move to USVI.
What is the Weather like in U.S. Virgin Islands?
The US Virgin Islands are known for their warm and sunny weather, with temperatures that are consistently mild throughout the year. The average temperature in the USVI ranges from the 77°F (25°C) during the winter and around 90°F (32.2°C) in the summer. The islands have a relatively stable climate, with little variation in temperature or weather patterns from month to month.
When is hurricane season in the US Virgin Islands?
The hurricane season in the US Virgin Islands runs from June to November, with the peak season occurring from mid-August to mid-September. During this time, visitors should be aware of the potential for tropical storms and hurricanes, which can cause significant damage to the islands. It is recommended that visitors monitor local weather conditions and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of severe weather.
Best Months to Visit USVI
The best time to visit the US Virgin Islands is during the winter months, from December to March when the weather is mild and dry. This is also the peak tourist season, so visitors should be prepared for crowds and higher prices. The summer months, from June to August, offer warm weather and lower costs, but visitors should be aware of the potential for tropical storms and hurricanes.
US Virgin Islands History
The US Virgin Islands Etymology
The US Virgin Islands were named by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the Americas in 1493. Columbus named the islands Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Virgenes (St. Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins) in honor of St. Ursula and the Christian martyrs she is said to have led. Over time, the name was shortened to the Virgin Islands.
A Brief History of USVI
The US Virgin Islands have a rich and complex history that dates back thousands of years. The islands were originally inhabited by the Ciboney, Arawak, and Carib peoples, who were skilled fishermen and farmers. These indigenous groups lived on the islands for hundreds of years before the arrival of European explorers.
The US Virgin Islands were first claimed by Spain in the late 15th century, but the islands were largely uninhabited and remained undeveloped for several centuries. In the 17th century, the islands were settled by the Dutch, who established a small colony on St. Croix. The Danish West Indies Company purchased St. Thomas and St. John from the French in 1733, and the islands became a center of the slave trade in the Caribbean.
Joining the United States
The US Virgin Islands were purchased by the United States from Denmark in 1917, during World War I. The islands were seen as strategically important for the defense of the Panama Canal, and the US government was also interested in acquiring a naval base in the Caribbean. The US Virgin Islands became an unincorporated territory of the United States, meaning that they are under US sovereignty but are not part of the US mainland.
Check out our guide to learn more about the history of the US Virgin Islands!
The Current USVI Economy
The US Virgin Islands have a relatively small economy, with a GDP of around $3 billion. The islands rely heavily on tourism, which accounts for a significant portion of the GDP. Other important sectors include manufacturing, agriculture, and financial services. The islands also receive significant financial support from the US government.
Tourism is the largest industry in the US Virgin Islands, accounting for over 60% of the islands’ GDP. The islands are a popular destination for tourists from around the world, who are drawn to the clear waters, vibrant culture, and beautiful beaches of the US Virgin Islands. The USVI has a thriving hospitality industry, with many hotels, restaurants, and attractions catering to tourists.
In addition to tourism, the US Virgin Islands also have a small but growing manufacturing sector, with a focus on textiles, electronics, and other consumer goods. The islands also have a small agricultural sector, with a focus on sugar cane, fruits, and vegetables. The financial services sector is also an important part of the USVI economy, with a number of banks and financial institutions operating on the islands.
The Government in the USVI
The US Virgin Islands have a unique system of government that reflects their status as an unincorporated territory of the United States. The islands are governed by a governor and a legislature, which is composed of 15 members. The governor is elected by the people of USVI.
Tax and trade in the US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands have a separate tax system from the US mainland, with lower tax rates on income, property, and sales. The islands also have a unique status as a free trade zone, which allows companies to import goods into the USVI without paying US tariffs or duties. This has made the USVI an attractive location for businesses looking to take advantage of the islands’ favorable tax and trade policies.
What is the Population in the US Virgin Islands?
USVI Population & Demographics
The US Virgin Islands have a population of approximately 87,000 people, with the majority of the population living on St. Thomas and St. Croix. The islands are home to a diverse population, with a mix of African, European, and Caribbean cultures.
English is the official language of the US Virgin Islands, and it is widely spoken throughout the islands. Spanish is also commonly spoken, particularly in the tourism industry.
Arts & Culture in the US Virgin Islands
The History of Arts & Culture in the USVI
The US Virgin Islands have a rich history of arts and culture, with influences from the indigenous peoples, European colonizers, and African slaves who lived on the islands. The islands have a vibrant music scene, with a unique blend of African and Caribbean rhythms. The traditional music of the USVI includes calypso, reggae, and soca, as well as traditional African drumming and dance.
Current Arts, Culture & Music Scene in the US Virgin Islands
Today, the US Virgin Islands have a thriving arts and culture scene, with a number of museums, galleries, and cultural events. The islands are home to a vibrant community of artists, musicians, and writers, who draw inspiration from the islands’ natural beauty and rich cultural history.
The Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts is a leading cultural institution in the USVI, showcasing the work of local and international artists. The museum also offers workshops and classes for artists and art enthusiasts.
U.S. Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Why Go to U.S. Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands are a popular destination for travelers seeking a tropical getaway. The islands offer stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a vibrant culture that draws visitors from around the world. The USVI is also an excellent destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, and more.
If you’re considering moving to the US Virgin Islands, check out this USVI buyer’s guide written by our local experts for helpful tips and information on making the move.
Popular Destinations for Travellers
Some of the most popular destinations for travelers in the US Virgin Islands include:
St. Thomas: Known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and historic architecture, St. Thomas is a popular destination for travelers of all ages.
St. Croix: With its lush rainforests, historic architecture, and beautiful beaches, St. Croix is a great destination for travelers who want to experience the natural beauty and cultural richness of the USVI.
St. John: With its tranquil atmosphere, pristine beaches, and beautiful natural landscapes, St. John is a great destination for travelers who want to escape the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful vacation.
Popular Destinations for Tourists
Some of the most popular tourist destinations in the US Virgin Islands include:
Magens Bay: One of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Magens Bay is a popular destination for tourists who want to relax and soak up the sun.
Coral World Ocean Park: A popular attraction for families and animal lovers, Coral World Ocean Park offers visitors the chance to swim with sea lions and sharks, as well as explore the park’s underwater exhibits.
Blackbeard’s Castle: A historic tower that offers panoramic views of the island, Blackbeard’s Castle is a popular destination for tourists who want to learn more about the USVI’s rich history.
Overall, the US Virgin Islands are a unique and fascinating destination that offers something for everyone. From the stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters to the vibrant culture and rich history, the USVI is a must-see destination for any traveler.
- “History & Culture of the Virgin Islands National Park.” National Park Service, accessed March 22, 2023, https://www.nps.gov/articles/virginislands.htm.
- “General Information: US Virgin Islands.” US Department of Transportation, accessed March 22, 2023, https://dot.vi.gov/our-islands/general-information/.
- “The History of the U.S. Virgin Islands.” Sea Glass Properties, accessed March 22, 2023, https://www.seaglassproperties.com/the-history-of-the-u-s-virgin-islands/.
- “US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism Gives Testimony on Continued Success of Tourism and Plans for Future.” Visit US Virgin Islands, accessed March 22, 2023, https://www.visitusvi.com/press-release/us-virgin-islands-department-tourism-gives-testimony-continued-success-tourism-and-plans-future.
- “US Virgin Islands Population and Housing Unit Counts.” US Census Bureau, accessed March 22, 2023, https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial/2020/data/island-areas/us-virgin-islands/population-and-housing-unit-counts/us-virgin-islands-phc-table01.pdf.
- “U.S. Took Ownership of the Virgin Islands” Library of Congress, accessed March 22, 2023, https://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/jazz/jb_jazz_virgin_1.html.
- “Music of the Virgin Islands.” Wikipedia, accessed March 22, 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_the_Virgin_Islands.
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