St. Thomas V.I.


The US Virgin Islands is a vacation paradise. Whether you travel to St Thomas, St John and St Croix and relax in one of the many resorts, hotels, condos or Villa rentals or go scuba diving or even snorkeling it doesn't get any better than this . You can charter a boat for a deep-sea fishing adventure. There are many great restaurants (That's us, on the right below), and lot's of golf courses.  You can shop till you drop, loaf on the beach or hang out at one of the many watering holes like Big Black Dick's or Senor Frog's or do all three.

Saint Thomas is an island in the Caribbean Sea and, with the smaller islands of Saint John and Water Island, a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie. As of the 2000 census, the population of Saint Thomas was 51,181 about 47% of the US Virgin Island total. The district has a land area of 31.24 square miles (80.9 km).  Check out the Earth Cam at http://www.earthcam.com/usa/virginislands/stthomas/  for a Birdseye view of the Port at Charlotte Amalie.

The island was originally settled around 1500 BC by the Ciboney people. They were later replaced by the Arawaks and then the Caribs. Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1493 on his second voyage to the "New World". The Caribs barely survived the first decades of contact with Europeans, either due to disease, deportation or slaying.

In 1917 St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) by the United States for $25 million in gold, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War.

To the left is a photo of St. Thomas (at night). St. Thomas is a very "laid-back" island where no one gets in a hurry to do anything. Fact is tourist become frustrated with folks just "stopping their cars, bus, truck, motorcycle, etc. in the middle of the road to just "visit" and pass the time of day.  When they are finished then, and only then does traffic resume it's flow.  The beaches are plentiful and gorgeous. 

The photo (right) is of the world famous Magen's Beach as seen from Sir Francis Drake's chair on a hill overlooking the bay. 

The photo on the left is of the Port at Charlotte Amalie. It's a photo opp everywhere one goes on St Thomas, St. Croix or St. Johns for that matter.  The winding mountain roads, the congested city streets and the street markers beneath the water that guide you through a wonderland of coral reefs, tropical fish and crystal clear water.  It truly is a paradise. 

The U.S. Virgin Islands is also a tax haven if you are a resident for at least one year ( they do extensive checking to make sure you or your company were residents for the entire year). 

That's something you might want to check-out if you are looking for a retirement place or just want to move somewhere warm and wonderful all year round.  I've found it not to be too outrageous on property prices or even the day to day cost-of-living expenses.  Besides, it's close to the United States and that makes a huge difference when looking for a new home.

Saint Thomas is divided into seven subdistricts:

Charlotte Amalie (pop. 18,914)

Northside (pop. 8,712)

Tutu (pop. 8,197)

East End (pop. 7,672)

Southside (pop. 5,467)

West End (pop. 2,058)

Water Island (pop. 161)

Now you've heard all the "good stuff" about St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands.  Here is the BAD NEWS!

The shooting death of a cruise ship passenger in the U.S. Virgin Islands comes as the popular tourist destination grapples with an explosion of violence, an analysis of the territory's crime statistics shows.

Homicide statistics for the U.S. Virgin Islands updated regularly in the St. Thomas Source show there already have been 44 killings across the territory in 2010 -- a 33% increase from this time in 2009. The homicide total for the territory in 2009, in turn, was up sharply from the year before.

According to the crime data, there were a record 56 homicides in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2009, up from 40 killings in 2008 and 44 in 2007.

With a population of about 110,000, the U.S. Virgin Islands had a homicide rate in 2009 that was about 10 times the USA's national average of five killings per 100,000 people, and the territory now is on track for a record homicide rate in 2010 approaching 13 times the national average.

That's Bad!  Why the enormous increase in crime?  

Gangs! Local news outlets suggest increasing gang activity in the territory is partly responsible for the growing violence.

The cruise passenger who was killed was, Lizmarie Perez Chapparro. She, allegedly, was caught in the middle of a shootout between warring gangs near St. Thomas's popular Coki Point Beach. The Associated Press reports the girl was struck by a bullet as she rode with her family on a "safari bus" that ferries tourists across the island.

The girl and her family had arrived in St. Thomas earlier in the day aboard the 2,758-passenger Carnival Victory.

Chapparro's killing marked the first time the growing "plague of violence" in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as one prominent official is calling it, has spilled over into the the territory's all-important tourism sector, and it brought swift calls from politicians and tourism leaders for a crackdown on crime.

Let's hope they get this problem under control soon or cruise ships and other tourist's will simply go elsewhere.


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