Virgin Islands (USA)
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea, 60 km east of Puerto Rico and are an autonomous territory of the United States. The largest islands are St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. There are also many smaller islands. The area is 344 km².
The U.S. Virgin Islands is a territory purchased by the United States from Denmark on January 17, 1917 (all formalities were completed on March 31 of the same year). It is administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Residents have the status of citizens of the United States.
Geographically, the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the Virgin Islands (which also include the British Virgin Islands).
The islands are hilly (the highest point is 475 m), mostly limestone with outcrops of ancient crystalline or volcanic rocks.
Lack of rivers and lakes, as well as deep groundwater has long complicated the problem of water supply, despite the rather large amount of precipitation. Rainwater was collected in special reservoirs. After the construction of desalination plants, this problem has been largely solved.
The vegetation and fauna of the islands were largely destroyed by humans. Remnants of evergreen rainforest remain mostly on St. John, two-thirds of which is a national park. On St. Thomas, there are sparse forests and shrubs on the site of former plantations. Seawaters near the islands are rich in fish, crustaceans, and mollusks.
Climate of the U.S. Virgin Islands
The climate of the U.S. Virgin Islands is tropical, trade winds, hot and humid with two dry seasons. The average monthly temperature varies slightly throughout the year, from +22-24 °C in winter to +28-29 °C in summer. The diurnal temperature variations are also poorly traced.
Rainfall reaches up to 1300 mm per year, with two dry (winter and summer) and two rainy (spring and autumn) seasons. The maximum rainfall is from September to November to December, although even then it rains no more than five to six days a month. Between July and October there is a good chance of tropical storms passing over the islands, although they are less frequent than over the nearby Navietrain Islands.
The most favourable time to visit the islands is from mid-December to the end of April, but this period is also peak tourist season, so prices are much higher than, for instance, from May to August, when weather conditions are also perfect for seaside holidays.
American Virgin Islands Population
The population of the American Virgin Islands is 106,977 (2018).
Life expectancy is 76 years for men and 82 years for women.
Ethno-racial composition: blacks 76.2%, whites 13.1%, mulattoes 3.5%, Asians 1.1%, others 6.1%.
Religions: Baptists 42%, Catholics 34%, Episcopalians 17%, others 7%.
The official language is English. Also popular are Spanish or Spanish-Creole 16.8%, French or French-Creole 6.6%, others 1.9%.
The currency unit of the U.S. Virgin Islands is the U.S. dollar ($ or USD), with one dollar having 100 cents. Bills in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars and coins in denominations of penny (1 cent), nickel (5 cents), dime (10 cents), quarter (25 cents), half-dollar (50 cents) and 1 dollar are in circulation.
Banks are usually open Monday through Thursday from 09.00 to 14.30 and on Fridays from 09.00 to 14.00 and 15.30 to 17.00.
Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks and specialized exchange bureaus. The islands have branches of almost all major international banking systems.
Credit cards are widely available on the larger islands but may be difficult to use on the smaller islands. Traveler’s checks can be cashed at almost any bank office. It is advisable to carry checks in U.S. dollars to avoid extra expenses related to exchange rate fluctuations.
Phone Code: 1 – 340
Telephone area codes
Area codes are not used.
How to call
To call from Russia to the U.S. Virgin Islands, you need to dial: 8 – dial tone – 10 – 1 – 340 – the telephone number.
To call from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Russia dial: 011 – 7 – city code – telephone number.
Stores are usually open Monday through Saturday, from 09.00 to 17.00, but on Thursday many of them close quite early – usually around 15.00 – 16.00. Many large retail outlets are usually open on Sundays as well, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The stores in the port also often open their doors on Sunday, but only while the cruise ships are anchored. It is not customary to bargain in local shops, but you can and should do so in the markets.
Popular souvenirs: rum, jewelry, paintings (there are many art galleries on St. Croix).
Sea and beaches
The islands attract many beach lovers with their clean beaches with white fine sand.
Almost all beaches are open to the public, with only private areas and some of the larger resorts having limited access (permits required).
Some local beaches are natural breeding grounds for endangered sea turtles, so most are protected and access to such areas is prohibited at certain times.
How to get to the Vegri Islands
There are no direct flights from Russia to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The easiest way to get here from Russia is to make one connection in the United States. From American cities (New York, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, Washington and others) there are direct flights to St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Aeroflot + American Airlines flights are quite convenient: Moscow – New York – St. Thomas. The flight from Moscow to New York takes about 10 hours, from New York to St. Thomas is 4 hours and 10 minutes.
You can also get to the U.S. Virgin Islands via Puerto Rico (64 kilometers). From there you can get to the US Virgin Islands by water (ferries or boats) or air (small planes).
The general crime rate is quite high (although markedly lower than on many other islands in the region). Violent offences are quite rare; the vast majority of crimes involve theft of personal property and fraud.
For personal safety here is enough to observe the usual precautions. Outside the resort complexes should not openly demonstrate jewelry, expensive photo and video equipment, as well as the thickness of the purse. Highly crowded areas should be avoided, as such places are usually attended by a large number of pickpockets. You should also avoid visiting the outskirts of populated areas, deserted shores, especially alone and at night.
It is also not recommended to exchange money in the streets – the risk of facing a fraud or outright robbery is extremely high.
The most favourable time to visit the islands is from mid-December to mid-May, but in the same period there is a peak tourist season, so prices are much higher than, for example, from May to August, when weather conditions are also ideal for a sea vacation. An additional argument in favor of visiting the islands in the summer is much greater transparency of sea water at this time, which provides better conditions for diving.
The local tap water is chlorinated and drinkable, but bottled water is still recommended.
Fishing for any marine life (including surfacing and even collecting discarded shells and coral) is prohibited in U.S. Virgin Islands waters, as is the use of harpoon weapons for underwater hunting (license required). Sport fishing is possible only with the permission of the regional authorities (usually included in the license package provided by the organizer of the fishing tour). Mooring of vessels and boats in the protected areas managed by the National Natural Parks Foundation is prohibited. Lifting to the surface of any items and belongings from wrecks in the territorial waters of the islands is permitted only with special permission from the national government.
American Virgin Islands
The American Virgin Islands is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea covering an area of 346.36 sq. km. The largest and most famous islands are only four – St. Croix, St. John, Thomas and Water. The remaining dozens of small islands and atolls are mostly uninhabited. The U.S. Virgin Islands should not be confused with the British. Together they form the Virgin Islands, which, in turn, are part of the Lesser Antilles archipelago. The islands are a U.S. possession. Officially, they have the status of an unincorporated organized territory. Almost a century ago, the U.S. bought the islands from Denmark. But, of course, they are better known as offshore under the U.S. flag.
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a paradise not only for businessmen looking to get rid of burdensome taxes, but also for tourists who come here every year to take a break from the bustle of the city on white-sand beaches and immerse themselves in the distinctive life of the island.
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Video: U.S. Virgin Islands
The climate of the British Virgin Islands is tropical, maritime, and trade winds. Comfortable temperatures are maintained throughout the year. In winter on the islands +22-24 ° C, in summer +28-29 ° C, and with the change of the time of day temperature varies little. The norm of precipitation here is up to 1300 mm a year.
There are two dry (winter, summer) and two wet (spring, fall) seasons in the British Virgin Islands. The rainy season is most pronounced from September to November, but even then tropical downpours are short-lived. And in July and October, the islands can experience hurricanes.
The highest point of the American Virgin Islands – only 475 m above sea level. The surface of the islands is hilly, due to their limestone origin. In some places, you can see inclusions of volcanic and crystalline rocks.
There are no rivers and lakes on the islands. On the shores of the bays can be seen mangrove swamps, while most of the islands are covered with tropical forests. Unfortunately, some of them, along with wildlife, was destroyed by man. You can admire the lush nature preserved on St. John, two-thirds of which is a National Park. On St. Thomas, you can see the sparse forests and shrubs of the former plantations. The marine waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands are home to a variety of fish, crustaceans, and shellfish.
Top 10 sights of the islands:
1. American Virgin Islands National Park, where you can see the rarest species of animals and birds 2. Fort Christiaan on St. Thomas Island 3. Blackbird Castle 4. Market Square in Charlotte Amalia 5. Charlotte-Amalia Aquarium with rare tropical fish 6. Mount St. Peter Greathouse with botanical gardens and a distillery on its slopes 7. Picturesque Coki Bay 8. Wim Sugar Plantation on St. Croix 9. Cruzan Wineries in Christiansted 10. Uninhabited Buck Island
- The tourist season in the U.S. Virgin Islands is from January to April. Fans of snorkeling and other water activities should fly to the islands in early summer, when there are no storms and prices are lower.
- Please note that the hotel bill includes an additional 8% tax and 10% service tip. Sometimes 3% for electricity is added to the cost of living.
- In restaurants and cafes tips for service are 10-15%, and in large restaurants they are initially included in the bill, and in small cafes it is customary to tip the waiter personally.
- Keep in mind that the lifting of any marine organisms and objects from the bottom, as well as collecting barnacles thrown on the shore is prohibited. A license is required for sport fishing.
The U.S. Virgin Islands has many hotels for all tastes, but prices are hard to call low. Room rates in resort hotels start at $250-300 a night. Economy-class hotels will ask for $150-170 a night, and a room in a budget guesthouse can be rented for $ 80. In this case, no matter what option you choose, you will be pleased with quality service.
There are also campgrounds on some islands, which are very popular with young people.
If you are interested in a vacation of the highest caliber, the U.S. Virgin Islands offers villa rentals on the coast. Prices start at $5,000 a week.
Sea and air service between the islands is well developed, and on the major islands there is no problem renting a scooter, a car or getting around by cab. However, distances between resorts are relatively short, so many travelers prefer to get around on foot or by bicycle.
Keep in mind that the duty-free export of goods from the island can be, if their total value is not more than $ 1,200. By the way, in the U.S. Virgin Islands you can profitably buy watches, jewelry, photo and video equipment, perfumes, leather goods and porcelain. Stores are open strictly on schedule: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also be sure to visit the local markets. The vendors are happy to haggle, and you can buy souvenirs quite inexpensive. The most popular are handicrafts, rum, spices and tea. Treat yourself to some fresh fruit.
Top 5 things to do in the U.S. Virgin Islands:
1. Diving 2. Cruise around the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean 3. A helicopter tour 4. Attending one of the local festivals (such as Fireworks Week in late June or the Carp Festival in January) 5. Sport Fishing
Approximately 2 million travelers come to the U.S. Virgin Islands each year. Accordingly, the tourism industry and services here are growing rapidly.
Industry also plays a special role. The islands are home to one of the largest oil refineries in the world. The locals are also engaged in the production of rum, textiles, electronics and watches. Agriculture is underdeveloped, but the financial sector, which depends on the U.S. economy, has every reason to boom.