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Saint Croix
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Saint Croix

A separate article treats the several rivers known as the St. Croix River in North America.
Saint Croix is one of the United States Virgin Islands, a United States territory, in the Caribbean. It is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands at 28 miles long and 7 miles wide.

History

It was inhabited by Arawaks and Caribs prior to European colonization of the Americas. Christopher Columbus visited there on November 14, 1493 giving it the name Santa Cruz. His initial visit led to a battle whereat one Spaniard and one Carib were killed. This heralded warfare between the Spaniards and Caribs which lasted for over one hundred years until the Spanish abandoned their colony. In the seventeenth century the island was colonised by Dutch and English settlers, who were soon in conflict with one another. Eventually the Dutch abandoned their settlement, and then the English settlement was destroyed by the Spanish who retook the island in 1650. However they on their turn were immediately ousted by the French.

The island was owned by the Knights of St John after being bequeathed by De Poincy, Governor of the French colony of St Kitts in 1660. However they sold it to the French West India Company in 1665. Under Governor Dubois the colony became profitable with over 90 plantations growing such crops as tobacco, cotton, sugar cane and indigo. After Dubois' death the colony declined and the island was abandoned by Europeans until 1733 when it was sold to the Danish West India and Guinea Company. This company placed no national restrictions on colonists and soon attracted Spanish Sephardic Jews, Huguenots and English settlers, the last of which came to dominate the Island. Sugar became the major crop. However the development of sugar beet in Europe undermined the economy of the colony.

Slavery was abolished in 1848 and there was a revolt by former slaves in 1878 when much of Fredericksted, the major town was burnt.

In 1917 the Virgin Islands were sold by Denmark to the United States of America for $25 million. Although the U.S. Virgin Islands remain under the U.S. flag, the islands are an unincorporated territory with a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Although taxpaying citizens, residents of the islands have no vote in national elections.

Geography

There are two towns on the island -Christiansted with a 2004 population of 3,000 and Frederiksted with a 2004 population of 830. The total population of the island is about 50,000. Inhabitants are called "Cruzans" or "Crucians" and English is the most common language with some Creole and French also spoken.

Fort Christiansvaern built in 1749 and other building are maintained by the National Park Service as the Christiansted National Historic Site.

Buck Island Reef National Monument preserves a 176 acre island just north of Saint Croix and the surrounding reefs.

Point Udall on the island is the easternmost point in the United States.

See also: