Before your next visit, there are some facts about the US Virgin Islands we think you should know. Yes, besides the fact that St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are home to some of the best beaches, luxurious hotels and year-round weather.
Here are ten interesting facts about the US Virgin Islands:
- At 737 square miles, the US Virgin Islands are double the size of Washington, DC.
- The US Virgin Islands are also a popular shopping destination, and they have been one since 1607. Shopping downtown was popular when the settlers of Jamestown, the first English settlement on the continent, bought supplies on their way to Virginia. In fact, St. Thomas is installing a plaque by the Historic Preservation Office recognizing this historic visit.
- The US Virgin Islands are the only place in the USA where you drive on the left side of the road. Even though the islands are part of the USA, driving dates back to when they were under European rule.
- The famous impressionist painter Camille Pissarro was born in St. Thomas in 1830. He made grand contributions to the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism movements. Pissarro lived on St. Thomas until he was 12 and then returned there in his later years. After all, who wouldn’t want to come back to this beautiful paradise?
- St. Croix is home to the oldest Baobab tree in the Caribbean. While the tree is native to South Africa, it was brought to the US Virgin Islands and planted in the 18th century. These trees can grow up to 25 meters high and live for thousands of years, so we are expecting it to be on the island for a long, long time.
- The US Virgin Islands is the only territory in the US to have coasts on both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. So when you travel to these islands, be sure to take the opportunity to stick your toe in both of these oceans.
- St. Thomas is also home to the second oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. It has sand floors and a menorah that dates back to the 11th century. It was declared a National Landmark in 1997 and people of all denominations are welcome to come visit it today.
- St. John is home to an underwater National Park. In Trunk Bay you will find the Underwater Trail which happens to be one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean. Plus, there are many signs below the water that will offer you information about the marine life you are seeing.
- Approximately 75% of the population of the island are descendants from African ancestors who came to the Caribbean as slaves in order to work on the sugar plantations. The rest are immigrants from Puerto Rico, North America, The Dominican Republic, Europe, the Middle East, India and other countries. Also, some are descendants from the old wealthy families of the US Virgin Islands, from France, Denmark, England and Holland. As a result, this provides a rich mix of culture and history.
- Christopher Columbus gets the credit for “discovering” St. Thomas. He reached the island during his second exploration of the New World in 1493. Somehow, he was not really impressed and didn’t stay very long, continuing on to Puerto Rico.
These are just a few quirky facts about the US Virgin Islands that you might not have known. Still interested in learning more? Visit our information page for other miscellaneous USVI facts.