Even though the US Virgin Islands is one of the overseas territories of the United States of America, it is actually a mix of ethnicity and culture. This group of islands is located in the Caribbean region, specifically in the Leeward Islands of Lesser Antilles. There are three main islands that comprise USVI: Saint Thomas, Saint Croix and Saint John. There are several other smaller islands that make up the archipelago, however. Each of these islands is worth exploring on their own when you travel to US Virgin Islands.
The US Virgin Islands was formerly known as the Danish West Indies. However, the United States purchased the island via the Treaty of the Danish West Indies, which was signed in 1916. It is currently recognized as a non-self governing territory by the UN.
The ethnic makeup of the USVI is quite varied with Blacks comprising over 76 percent of the population. About 15 percent of the population are Whites and the remainder is Asian or of mixed descent. In terms of its geographical landscape, the USVI is known for its white sand beaches and harbors. The island is also formed out of volcanic origin with a hilly landscape. The highest point in US Virgin Islands is Crown Mountain, which is 474-meters high.
Since its rise out of the World War II, tourism has been the main industry in the US Virgin Islands. There are an estimated 2 million tourists who visit the island on a yearly basis – most of these come from cruise ships.
Currency: United States Dollar
Official Language: English is the official language in the US Virgin Islands.
Wi-Fi Availability: You can find several hotels and cafés that offer free Wi-Fi at high speed in the US Virgin Islands, especially in areas frequented by tourists.
Airport/s: The Cyril E. King International Airport is currently the busiest international airport in the US Virgin Islands.
Visa Required: US Citizens do not need a visa or a passport to travel to US Virgin Islands. However, it is recommended that you bring it with you for personal identification (if needed). The visa requirement from non-US countries might vary depending on the point of origin (some may require visa, others do not).
Driving: In the US Virgin Islands, you must drive on the left side of the road.
International Driver’s License Accepted? You can use your US or any driver’s license in US Virgin Islands for up to 90 days.
Crime: The crime rate in US Virgin Islands is quite high, particularly in the small town of St. Thomas. In fact, the homicide rate is one of the highest in the world. All tourists are therefore advised to take all the necessary precaution when traveling to the US Virgin Islands.
Electrical Adapters: In the US Virgin Islands, they use an electrical voltage of 115 volts at an electrical frequency of 60 Hertz.
Trivia: DID YOU KNOW that the US Virgin Islands is the only part of the United States that drive on the left side of the road? This is one of those customs that they have adapted from the earlier days of European rule.
Cuisine in the US Virgin Islands
Food and drinks is a significant part of the culture in the US Virgin Islands. Every major celebration involves food and drinks to celebrate. In the US Virgin Islands, you will get to enjoy an assortment of dishes unique to the Carribean, as well as others that are influenced by its former occupants.
The Indians were the first inhabitants of the island and they made use of local fruits and vegetables to make food. Even when the European settlers came in, much of the food culture was preserved until today. In fact, it was the Indians who introduced barbecue to the island cuisine.
When the Europeans arrived to the island, they introduced various ingredients like wheat, beef, garlic and onion. Curry dishes are also popular in the Caribbean, which is also an introduction of Indians to the local cuisine using a spice called curry.
Travel to US Virgin Islands
Underwater National Park in St. John – If you love to snorkel, then you should definitely check out the underwater trail off the coast of St. John (one of the main islands in USVI). This snorkeling trail is suited for all levels of swimmers.
Magens Bay – This is a bay in the region of St. Thomas, which consists of a well protected white sand beach that stretches for nearly a mile. It is a popular tourist destination in the island wherein the beach sits on a deep bay. The waters of the bay are typically calm, which is great for swimming. The beach also consists of a sandy bottom making it an ideal spot for snorkeling. There are also local fishing boats that anchor in the bay.
Virgin Islands National Park – This national park comprises up to 60 percent of St. John island, as well as Hassel Island. It is a popular destination for those who like to do snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also take hikes along the trail to the tropical rainforest in the US Virgin Islands. The Trunk Bay is one of the most popular attractions within the protected national park area.
Blackbeard’s Castle – This is just one of five historical landmarks in the US Virgin Islands. This castle is located on the island of St. Thomas. It was built for by the Danish invaders in 1679 to protect Fort Christian and the harbor. The castle was originally named Skytsborg Tower.
Christiansted National Historic Site – This historical landmark serves to commemorate the urban colonial development in the archipelago. Christiansted is made up of 18th and 19th-century structures and is located at Christiansted. The site is currently managed by the US National Park Service.