St. Croix history, "Twin Cities" Frederiksted and Christiansted . The Climate is subtropical, with average temperatures year-round in the 80s. Click Here to see what it is today! The Language is English and they use the US Dollar for currency. It is the largest of the three principal islands comprising the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix's diversity is partly due to its size - 28 miles long and 7 miles wide. This tropical island is three times the size of nearby St. Thomas, and its terrain is uniquely diverse. A lush rain forest in the western mountains and undulating hills in the interior are a marked contrast to the spiny desert vegetation and dry, rocky red cliffs found on the eastern end. Year-round temperatures average 80 degrees during the day and 70 degrees at night; constant trade winds keep the island cool and pleasant. There is an excellent published guide for this island called "St. Croix This Week". The guide is about 45 pages in length. The guide gives the schedule for the entire months activities including cruise ship arrivals. The guide is full of useful information including maps of the island and the two major cities. It also includes information on all the attractions of the island, history, local advertisements and reviews on many restaurants.
Now we'll give alittle history . . . Christopher Columbus came upon St. Croix on November 14, 1493, during his second voyage to the Americas. He sent a crew ashore at St. Croix's Salt River inlet in search of potable water; there followed a brief confrontation with some of the island's Taino inhabitants, resulting in deaths on both sides. The Great Admiral promptly moved on to chart the numerous islands to the north, naming the entire group including St. Croix the Virgin Islands, in honor of the legendary virginal devotees of St. Ursula. He later christened the island Santa Cruz, or "Holy Cross."
As the Spaniards concentrated their early efforts in the Caribbean on the Greater Antilles, St. Croix's native inhabitants may have escaped the initial impact of the conquest. But in the early 1500s, when the Spanish began to raid the island for slaves to work their gold mines in more lucrative colonies, a renewed native resistance served as the justification for the extermination of the Caribbean's indigenous peoples. By the early 1600s, when the island was permanently settled, the Tainos Columbus encountered on St. Croix had utterly disappeared.
The Dutch and English were among the first to establish themselves on St. Croix; both powers had a presence on the island by 1625. The Dutch shared their settlement with a handful of French Huguenots from nearby St. Kitts. The two colonies coexisted without major incident until 1645, when the island's Dutch governor killed his English counterpart. A skirmish ensued between the two colonies during which the Dutch governor was mortally wounded. The English colonists extended a conciliatory invitation to his successor; however, upon his arrival at the colony, the Dutch official was arrested and publicly executed. The Dutch were forced to abandon their colony and retire to St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, while their French neighbors relocated to Guadeloupe. The English solidified their claim on St. Croix and remained unchallenged for the next four years.
In 1650, the English settlement was overrun by 1,200 Spanish colonists from Puerto Rico. Dutch forces from St. Eustatius tried unsuccessfully to recapture St. Croix. Later that year, Philippe de Lonvilliers Poincy, Governor of the French West Indies, claimed possession of St. Croix in the name of the French Crown. DePoincy, the leader of the Knights of Malta, then purchased the island from the French king in 1651 and directed a group of his fellow knights to colonize St. Croix. In 1653, he bestowed his private holdings in the West Indies to the order and sent one Chevalier de la Mothe to St. Croix with supplies. The unfortunate emissary met with a rather ignoble fate as he was apprehended and shackled by some 200 rebellious French colonists, who made off with his ship.
Two years later, a new governor was sent to restore order to the colony. The knights, however, unaccustomed to the rigors of managing plantations, failed to establish a viable economy on St. Croix. In 1665, the French West India Company bought all the islands owned by the Knights of Malta, and in 1674, the French king paid the company's debts, assuming ownership of all its holdings. Unable to turn the colony around, the king ordered its residents to relocate to Santo Domingo. Although still a French possession, St. Croix was abandoned save for a few squatters until well into the next century.
The Danish West India and Guinea Company bought the island from the French in 1733. Attracted by cheap land, planters, mostly English, flocked to St. Croix from neighboring islands. But the company's impending bankruptcy prompted the settlers to petition the Danish king for aid, and the island was made a Crown Colony in 1755. The Danish influence, more lasting than that of any other European power, is particularly evident today in the gingerbread architecture of Christiansted and Frederiksted.
During the second half of the 18th century, the island enjoyed a period of enormous economic prosperity based on the cultivation of sugar, the production of rum, and the slave trade. The Danish West Indies served as a central slave marketplace in the region, and despite the protestations of the Danish Crown, St. Croix's planters relied heavily on slave labor. The Danish government declared slavery illegal in 1792 but assisted planters in acquiring slaves during a "transition" period; the slave trade was abolished in 1803. However, St. Croix's slaves would not achieve independence until July 3, 1848, when Governor-General Peter von Scholten roused from his bed in the wee hours of the morning by the news of a slave insurrection ordered their immediate emancipation.
The British recaptured St. Croix in 1807 and held the island during the Napoleonic Wars much to the relief of St. Croix's English planters, who had been chafing under trade restrictions imposed by the Danish Crown. But the island reverted to Denmark in 1815, and the next 30 years brought drought and widespread economic depression.
During the second half of the 19th century, St. Croix suffered a series of natural disasters including a fire in Christiansted, an earthquake and tidal wave and two hurricanes that exacerbated the colony's woes. The economy did not fully recover until the middle of this century.
In 1917, the United States purchased St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas from the Danish government to prevent their becoming a German submarine base during World War I. St. Croix first fell under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy and was later granted Territorial status. A period of uneven economic recovery continued until the 1950s, when tourists began to discover the island. Since then, the industry and the island has seen steady growth.
Today, the U.S. Virgin Islands is an unincorporated Territory with a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Although all persons born here are U.S. citizens and taxpayers, they have no vote in national elections. Islanders were granted the vote in local elections in 1936 and chose their first governor in 1970.