Monday, November 09, 2009
St. Croix, the US Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are divided into two political entities; on the east, Tortola and some 50 additional islands are a territory of the United Kingdom; and in the west, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas are governed as a territory of the United States.
Christopher Columbus named the islands Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes, shortened to Las Vírgenes, after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins.
They were inhabited by the Arawak, Carib and Cermic, all of whom died out during the colonial period from disease, harsh labor conditions, and murder.
Later, the islands were re-populated by European plantation owners, and enslaved Africans who worked on sugar plantations, and at least one tobacco plantation.
The sugar plantations are gone, but the descendants of the enslaved Africans remain the bulk of the population, sharing a common Afro-Caribbean heritage with the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean.