A Bit of U.S. Virgin Islands History
Christopher Columbus “discovered” the USVI in 1493 when he first made a stop on the northern shore of St. Croix. He named the island Santa Cruz. In 1733, Denmark purchased the islands of St. John and St. Thomas, bringing them under Danish rule. During this time, sugar was the primary export; however, cotton, rum, and tobacco were also exported. Through the 1840s, slavery was common in this region as the sugar production increased.
Over the years, however, the Spanish, Dutch, British, French, and Knights of Malta all controlled the islands at some point in the region's history, before the United States purchased St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas in 1917 for $25 million in gold. It was then that this region took on the name U.S. Virgin Islands.
Early in the islands’ history, the Taino and Carib Indians were the main inhabitants for more than 3,000 years. However, most of the natives were ultimately slaughtered during the European occupation. These days, the local population is comprised of people from Europe, North America, India, the Middle East, and the Orient. Many are West Indians of African decent. Today, Danish heritage continues to be present in the region, both in local traditions as well as the architecture, which makes this an even more desirable place for tourists to visit.