The United States Virgin Islands is a group of islands situated in the Caribbean. They are collectively a territory of the US. These islands form the Virgin Islands archipelago and are situated in the Leeward Islands. The US Virgin Islands is made up of three main islands and several other islands surrounding the minor islands. These major islands include Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, and Saint John. The islands cover a total area of approximately 133.7 square miles and have a population of 106,400 people of which the majority are Afro-Caribbean. The capital city of the US Virgin Islands is Charlotte Amalie.
Overview of Charlotte Amalie
Charlotte Amalie is located on Saint Thomas Island. It is the US Virgin Island’s largest city and was founded as Taphus (beer house) in 1666. The name was changed to Amalienborg (Charlotte Amalie) in 1691. The city was renamed after Charlotte Amalie, the queen to King Christian, the Fifth of Denmark. The city is popular for its Danish-styled colonial architecture. Several places and streets across the city also bear Danish names. This city has some of the historically significant buildings including Saint Thomas Synagogue which is the western hemisphere’s oldest synagogue. The city is located on the south shores of Saint Thomas. It is built on three volcanic spurs; the Government Hill, Frenchman Hill, and Berg Hill. There are approximately 19,000 inhabitants in the city of which the majority (76%) are Afro-Caribbean.
The History of the City
Charlotte Amalie was chartered 1671 by the Danish West Indian Company following King Christian V’s decision to secure the islands for plantation. The government of Denmark began construction of Fort Christian at St. Thomas Harbor 1672 and in 1691, the city’s name was changed from Taphus to Charlotte Amalie. It was US Virgin Islands’ main port and was linked to several plantations by a single road which is a major highway today. In 1754, the capital of the island was changed renamed Christiansted on Saint Croix from Charlotte Amelie but the growth of the city was not hampered in any way. It fell into dormancy towards the end of the 19th century following a cholera outbreak which killed thousands of people. The US bought the Virgin Islands from the Danish and made Charlotte Amelia its headquarters. The city would later become a naval base during World War II.
The economy of Charlotte Amelia is mainly based on tourism as well as jewelry and handicrafts. The city is also a port capital of the US Virgin Islands and a popular cruise ship destination. Over one million cruise ship passengers visit Charlotte Amelie every year. Some of the tourist attractions include Blackbeard's Castle (a National Historic Landmark), Saint Thomas Synagogue, Emancipation Garden, and the Market Square. Charlotte Amalie has the most number of Jewelry shop than any other place in the Caribbean. The city is popular for its outdoor shopping Vendor’s Plaza. Some of the shopping areas within the city include Dronningens Grade, Crown Bay dock, and Havensight. Most of the shops in these areas sell pieces of jewelry.