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Monday, January 12, 2009

US Virgin Islands

The result of the US Virgin Islands' history and location is a unique blend of Danish heritage and American modernity combined with a relaxed and friendly attitude typical of the Caribbean. Add to this miles of glistening beaches, first-class diving facilities and verdant tropical vegetation, and there is more than enough to seduce any visitor.The Danes' legacy is evident in Christiansted, on the largest island, St Croix, whose historic sites include Fort Christiansværn (dating from 1774) and the Old Custom House. St Thomas too retains much of its Danish influence; in the capital, Charlotte Amalie, converted warehouses now house stylish boutiques. Those seeking unspoilt natural beauty should head to St John. With no airport, and two-thirds of the island's deep valleys set aside as a national park, this is an ideal Caribbean retreat.The islands were first inhabited by Carib and Arawak Indians but, in common with the rest of the Caribbean, they endured various waves of European invasion and settlement from the 1490s onwards, finally becoming part of the Danish West Indies. The US government purchased the islands in 1917 and they are now an unincorporated territory of the USA. A measure of self-government was introduced in 1954, along with the introduction of an elected Senate