Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the Virgin Islands are famed for itswhite sand beaches, crystal-blue waters and idyllic sailing venues.
The U.S. Virgin Islands which consists of almost 50 cays and islands, includesthe islands of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas.
Tourism is the major business, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are closelyassociated with the economy and culture of the British Virgin Islands.
During the 17th century, the archipelago was divided into two territorialunits, one English and the other Danish. Sugarcane, produced by slave labor,drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1917,the US purchased the Danish portion, which had been in economic decline sincethe abolition of slavery in 1848.
Geography Virgin IslandsLocation: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates: 18 20 N, 64 50 W
Climate: subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to NovemberCountry name:
conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form: Virgin Islands
former: Danish West Indies
Capital: Charlotte Amalie
geographic coordinates: 18 21 N, 64 56 W