PORT of ST. THOMAS, Paradise Point, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
ST. THOMAS (U.S.V.I.)
Saint Thomas is an island in the Caribbean Sea, 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 2001 census, the population of Saint Thomas was 51,181 about 47% of the US Virgin Island 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 Caribs barely survived the first decades of contact with Europeans, either due to disease, deportation or slaying.
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 sugar cane production became the primary economic activity. As a result the economies of Saint Thomas and neighboring islands of Saint John and Saint Croix became highly dependent on slave labor and the slave trade.
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.
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.
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