Therefore, for much of its history, its people have lived in typical West Indies shanties, with an occasional public building constructed that vaguely imitated 18th-century Europe in style. By the 1600s however, the Indian populations had plummeted due to disease brought by Europeans, raids by Spanish settlers from neighboring islands and immigration to other islands of the Caribbean. This act was revised in 1954, granting them a greater degree of self-government. They no longer exist in what is today the USVI. Tortola was first settled in 1648 by Dutch buccaneers who held the island until it was taken over in 1666 by a group of English planters. In that same year, France sold St. Croix to the Danish West India Company, which divided the island into plantations, boosting the already flourishing slave trade. In 1625, both the English and the Dutch established opposing frontier outposts on St. Croix. In the centuries that followed, the islands were ruled by the English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Knights of Malta, and Danes. Denmark colonized the island with planters from St. Thomas in 1717. Explorers as late as 1587 reported evidence of Indian habitation however settlers by 1625 reported not finding Indians. Historical and marine treasures on St. Croix including Buck Island are also protected by the Park Service, as are portions of Hassell Island. The abolition of slavery in the first half of the 19th century dealt a heavy blow to the agricultural economy. National anthem of the United States Virgin Islands,, CRW Flags - Flag of Virgin Islands, United States, Official Tourism Site of United States Virgin Islands, United States History - The Virgin Islands, Central Intelligence Agency - The World Factbook - Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). In the postwar economic boom that swept across America, the Virgin Islands at long last found a replacement for sugar cane. After several severe hurricanes destroyed the British Virgin Islands’ sugarcane mills and plantations, most planters either sold or outright gave up their properties to their newly freed slaves. By 1733, an estimated 100 sugar, tobacco, and cotton plantations were operating on the island. The territory is composed of three large islands—St. Exports totaled more than four-fifths of imports in value annually. were used as a port during the war and visitors first started to appear on the islands. Visitors to St. Croix will see traces of St. Croix's rich cultural diversity in the island's distinctive arts, crafts, music and festivals. The great economic boom that resulted from the Virgin Islands plantations began to wilt by the 1820s. As early as 1747, the Danes adopted a strict building code, which spared Christiansted from some of the violent fires that virtually wiped out Charlotte Amalie.


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