A recent census estimates the population at over
110,000 people. St. Croix's 84 square miles are
home to over 54,000 of them, while St. Thomas'
32 square miles house 51,000. Some 4,500 peo-
ple live on St. John's 19 square miles. Most are
descendants of African slaves brought here to work on
the plantations of old-line European families.
They were joined by “ Frenchies ” from St. Barth early in the
20th century. Fishermen then and now, their small commu-
nity continues to flourish. You'll notice a sizeable number of
East Indians in the shops. The islands are often called “the
crossroads of the Caribbean” because so many emigrants
from islands nearby have moved here. Large numbers have
moved from Puerto Rico to St. Croix, where Spanish is spo-
ken in the shops and restaurants. Many Rastafarians have
moved to St. Thomas from Jamaica. Distinctive hair and
clothing make them stand out. Shops and restaurants that
are owned or cater to Rastafarians are found in the Savan
area of Charlotte Amalie, near the old market. Others own
farms in the lush north of St. Thomas. They grow organic
fruits and vegetables that are sold at farmer's markets.
Since the end of World War II, an increasing number of US
mainland residents have settled on the islands. Many retire
here. The locals call them “ Continentals .”
English, the language of the islands, was spoken
here even during Danish rule. However, the in-
tonation and pronunciation are quite different,
making it difficult to understand at first. Virgin
Islanders speak Creole, a lilting form of English
originating from slave days when African tongues blended
with the English, French and Dutch of the traders. Just
stick with it and you'll get the hang of it quickly.