Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands of the United States (commonly called the United States Virgin Islands or U.S. Virgin Islands) are a group of islands in the Caribbean that are an insular area 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 consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, along with the much smaller but historically distinct Water Island, and many other surrounding minor islands. The total land area of the territory is 133.73 square miles (346.4 km2).
As of the 2000 census the population was 108,612, mostly composed by those of Afro-Caribbean descent. Tourism is the primary economic activity, although there is a significant manufacturing sector.
Formerly the Danish West Indies, they were sold to the United States by Denmark in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies of 1916. They are classified by the UN as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, and are currently an organized, unincorporated United States territory. The Islands are organized under the Revised Organic Act of 1954, and have since held five constitutional conventions, the last proposed Constitution of 2009 being rejected by Congress in 2010.
The US Virgin Islands are in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, about 40 miles (64 km) east of Puerto Rico and immediately west of the British Virgin Islands. The territory consists of four main islands: Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix, and Water Island, as well as several dozen smaller islands. The main islands have nicknames often used by locals: "Twin City" (St. Croix), "Rock City" (St. Thomas) and "Love City" (St. John). The combined land area of the islands is roughly twice the size of Washington, D.C.
Christiansted, the largest town on St. Croix
The US Virgin Islands are known for their white sand beaches, including Magens Bay and Trunk Bay, and strategic harbors, including Charlotte Amalie and Christiansted. Most of the islands, including Saint Thomas, are volcanic in origin and hilly. The highest point is Crown Mountain, Saint Thomas (1,555 ft/474 m). Saint Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands, lies to the south and has a flatter terrain. The National Park Service owns more than half of Saint John, nearly all of Hassel Island, and many acres of coral reef. (See also Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Christiansted National Historic Site, and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.)