Visit The United States Virgin Islands
The United States Virgin Islands (USVI); also called the American Virgin Islands), officially the Virgin Islands of the United States, is a group of islands in the Caribbean and an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.
The U.S. Virgin Islands consists of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, and many other surrounding minor islands. The total land area of the territory is 133.73 square miles (346.36 km2). The territory’s capital is Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas.
Previously known as the Danish West Indies of the Kingdom of Denmark–Norway, they were sold to the United States by Denmark in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies of 1916. They are classified by the United Nations as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, and are currently an organized, unincorporated United States territory. The U.S. Virgin Islands are organized under the 1954 Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands and have since held five constitutional conventions. The last and only proposed Constitution, adopted by the Fifth Constitutional Convention of the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2009, was rejected by the U.S. Congress in 2010, which urged the convention to reconvene to address the concerns Congress and the Obama Administration had with the proposed document. The Fifth Constitutional Convention of the U.S. Virgin Islands met in October 2012 to address these concerns, but was not able to produce a revised Constitution before its October 31 deadline.
In 2010 the population was 106,405, and mostly Afro-Caribbean. Tourism and related categories are the primary economic activity, employing a high percentage of the civilian non-farm labor force that totaled 42,752 persons in 2016 (the total non-farm labor force was 48,278 persons). Private sector jobs made up 71 percent of the total workforce. The average private sector salary was $34,088 and the average public sector salary was $52,572.
In a May 2016 report, some 11,000 people were categorized as being involved in some aspect of agriculture in the first half of 2016 but this category makes up a small part of the total economy. (The islands have a significant rum manufacturing sector.) At that time, there were approximately 607 manufacturing jobs and 1,487 natural resource and construction jobs. The single largest employer was the government. In mid-February 2017, the USVI was facing a financial crisis due to a very high debt level of $2 billion and a structural budget deficit of $110 million. Then early August 2017, the U.S. Virgin Islands government was rejected from the bond market.
Tourism, trade, and other service-oriented industries are the primary economic activities, accounting for nearly 60% of the GDP. Approximately 2.5 million tourists per year visit, most arriving on cruise ships. Such visitors do not spend large amounts of money ($146.70 each on average) but as a group, they contributed $339.8 million to the economy in 2012.
However, the travel industry warned in late 2014 that work needs to be done for USVI tourism practices to meet 21st century demands. “The needs of the community and the tourists may be diametrically opposed; however, for tourism to flourish cooperation is a necessity. From reduced energy costs to increased educational opportunities, from improved healthcare to a continued reduction in crime, these and many other challenges must be tackled. There is only now.”
Additionally, the islands frequently are a starting point for private yacht charters to the neighboring British Virgin Islands. Euromonitor indicates that over 50 percent of the workforce is employed in some tourism-related work.
Coki is St. Thomas’s party beach, thronged with families, revelers and beach vendors.
Snorkelers and divers love Coki’s underwater clarity and sea creatures. Beach day-trippers enjoy the sand, sunshine and wandering vendors of drinks and snacks, souvenirs, sunscreen and hair-braiding.
The U.S. Postal Service put it on a stamp, Condé Nast Traveler called it one of the top 10 beaches in the world, National Geographic declared it without equal: Trunk Bay. The talc-soft sands, turquoise waters and lush green backdrop of this earthly paradise inspire superlatives in all who see it, while its location within the Virgin Islands National Park ensures it remains free of unsympathetic development.
Perched on St John’s northern shore, Maho Bay draws families and snorkelers to its calm, shallow waters. It’s easily accessible, as you can drive right up to the beach and park on the side of a road lined with groves of coconut palms.
Maho Bay is named after the beach Maho tree, which you can identify by its heart-shaped leaves and bright, yellow flowers. The narrow beach fronts a shallow, sheltered bay that is a popular anchorage for yachts.
St. Croix keeps its distance from the other two U.S. Virgin Islands, with a distinct identity and thriving industry which leaves it less reliant on tourism. Nonetheless there is more than enough to interest beach bums, history buffs and even gourmands.