How Did the Virgin Islands Become Part of the United States and Why Did the U.S. Purchase the Islands?

The U.S. Virgin Islands, not to be confused with the British Virgin Islands, are a territory of the United States.

They lie about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico.

Because the U.S. government wanted to control this strategic spot in the Caribbean during World War I, it purchased this group of 50 islands and cays from Denmark in 1917.

In 2000 the population of the U.S. Virgin Islands was 108,612.

The islands were named by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 after Saint Ursula and her virgin followers.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, sugarcane produced by slave labor drove the islands’ economy until the abolition of slavery in 1848.