History, Demographics and Geography
for Cruise Travelers to St Thomas
- Time Line, Personalities, Trivial Curiosities, Population, Ethnicity, Religion, Economy.
St Thomas is an island with an unusual rich history. Of course that this could be said about many, if not most, Caribbean Islands. However, in St Thomas the cultural and historical diversity is still very vivid in well preserved landmarks.
St Thomas - Time Line
Street in Charlotte Amalie
Circa 1500 BC - Initially settled by Ciboney.
100 AD - Arawaks established sites in St. Thomas.
1200 AD - Taíno and Caribs arrive in St. Thomas.
1493 - Christopher Columbus sighted the island on his second voyage.
1657 - Danish West India Company established a post in Saint Thomas.
1666 - Danish conquered the island.
1672 - Beginning of the construction of Fort Christian.
1675 - Establishment of four pubs (Taphus in Danish) near the water’s edge.
1679 - Building of Blackbeard's Castle.
1680 - Population: 156 whites and 175 blacks.
1680's - Large importation of slaves from Africa.
1685 - Brandenburgisch-Africanische Compagnie controls slave trade.
1691 - Taphus was renamed Charlotte Amalie.
1754 - Capital was moved to Christiansted in Saint Croix.
1732 - Charlotte Amalie was declared a free port.
1796 - Small Jewish community developed in Charlotte Amalie.
1801 - First British invasion and occupation.
1802 - British returned the islands to Denmark.
1807 - Second British invasion of the Danish West Indies.
1815 - Britain returned the islands to Denmark.
1848 - Slavery is abolished.
1860s - United States considered buying the island for $7.5 million.
1917 - St. Thomas is purchased by the United States for $25 million (around $540 million in 2015 dollars).
1927 - U.S. citizenship was granted to the residents.
1931 - U.S. Department of the Interior took over administrative duties.
1936 - Universal voting suffrage.
1954 - Organic Act officially granted territorial status to the three islands.
1970 - The U.S. Virgin Islands elected its first governor, a local senate and a delegate to congress.
1989 - Hurricane Hugo struck the islands.
1993 - Referendum to be a State or remain a Territory of the US only had 31.4% turnout (results were considered void).
1995 - Hurricane Marilyn hit the islands; killing eight people and causing over $2 billion in damage.
Personalities - Trivial Curiosities
Camille Pissaro - Born on 10 July 1830, in a building on the Main Street of Charlotte Amalie, to Frederick (French national of Portuguese Jewish descent) and Rachel Manzano de Pissaro (native Creole). He became a leading figure in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism painting.
'Two Woman Chatting by the Sea' by Camille Pissaro
Blackbeard - Edward Teach (c.1680 — 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was one of the most famous English pirates. He could NOT have been the 'builder' of the castle that has his name as he only arrived in the West Indies 20 years later.
Bluebeard - Unlike Blackbeard, the equally famous Bluebeard never actually existed at all.
Charlotte Amalie - the main city and capital of the US Virgin Islands was named, in 1691, after Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel (1650–1714), queen consort to King Christian V of Denmark. The original name was Amalienborg (in English Charlotte Amalie).
Taphus - before it was renamed Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas was known as Taphus (direct translation from Danish) or "beer houses", due to the many establishments selling this drink.
Virgin Islands - on his second voyage Columbus spotted a chain of islands calling them 'Las Once Mil Virgenes (11,000 virgins) in honor of Ursula, martyred by the Huns for refusing to marry a pagan prince.
Street Names - Many names of streets in Charlotte Amalie steel reflect the Danish past like Dronningens Gade, which translates to 'the queen's street'; or Lille Tarne Gade — Danish for Little Tower Street; Kongens Gade - Kings Street.
St. Thomas - Geography
Saint Thomas is one of the islands in the Caribbean Sea, which together with St. John, St. Croix and other minor islands form the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. The island is located about 40 miles (60 km) east of Puerto Rico and just a few miles west of the British Virgin Islands.
The Island of Saint Thomas is one of the 3 districts of the U.S. Virgin Islands and is divided in 7 sub-districts - Charlotte Amalie, East End, North-side, South-side, Tutu, Water Island and West End.
Population: 51,634 inhabitants
Area: 31.24 square miles (80.9 km2)
Density: 1,653 /sq mi (638 /km2)
The population of Saint Thomas is 49% of the USVI total.
76% Black | 15.6% White | 1.4% Asian | 2.1% Mixed
42% Baptist | 34% Catholic | 17% Episcopalian
Largest settlement / capital:
13 miles long, 4 miles wide.
1,550 ft or 474 meters
Tourism is the primary economic activity of St. Thomas with around 2 million visitors a year, most of which visit the island on cruise ships.
The manufacturing sector consists mainly rum distilling. The agricultural sector is small - most is food imported from the US. Most energy is generated from imported oil - electricity costs are four to five times higher than the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. Virgin Islands are an independent customs territory from United States operating as a free port. Residents are not subject to U.S. federal income taxes on regional source income.
Official Website: www.vi.gov
1.25 square miles
Approximately 18,500 residents (2010)
Town (pop. 10,354)
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