Danish West Indies


Danish West Indies
Danish West Indies
Dansk Vestindien
Colony of Denmark-Norway (1814- Denmark)

1754–1917
Flag of Denmark Coat of arms
Location of the Danish West Indies
Capital Charlotte Amalie
(1672–1754 and 1871–1917)

Christiansted
(1754–1871)
Language(s) Danish, English
Political structure Colony of Denmark-Norway (1814- Denmark)
Monarch
 - 1754-1765 Frederick V
 - 1912-1917 Christian X
Governor-General
 - 1756-1766 Christian Leberecht von Prøck
 - 1916-1917 Henri Konow
History
 - Sold by the Danish West India Company 1754
 - Treaty of the Danish West Indies March 31, 1917
Area
 - [1] 400 km2 (154 sq mi)
Population
 - 1911[1] est. 27,000 
Currency Rigsdaler (1754-1849), daler (1849-1917)

The Danish West Indies (Danish: Dansk Vestindien or De dansk-vestindiske øer) or "Danish Antilles", were a colony of Denmark-Norway and later Denmark in the Caribbean. They were sold to the United States in 1916 in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies and became the United States Virgin Islands in 1917. Jomfruøerne ("Virgin Islands") is the Danish geographic name for the Virgin Islands.

They covered a total area of 185 square miles (480 km2) and in the 1850s consisted of three islands—St. Thomas at 43 square miles (or 111 kilometres2); St. John 42 square miles (110 km2) and St. Croix of 100 square miles (260 km2).

Contents

History

The Danish West India and Guinea Company settled on St. Thomas island first in 1672, expanding to St. John in 1683 (a move disputed with the British until 1718), and purchasing St. Croix from the French West Indies Company in 1733. In 1754, the islands were sold to the Danish king, Frederick V of Denmark, becoming royal Danish colonies.

At times during the Napoleonic Wars, the islands were occupied by the British; first from March 1801 to March 27, 1802, and then again from December 1807 to November 20, 1815, when they were returned to Denmark.

A 1905 gold 20 Franc coin of the Danish West Indies, depicting Christian IX of Denmark.

In the 1850s Danish West Indies had a total population of about 41,000 people. The government of the islands were under a governor-general, whose jurisdiction extends to the other Danish colonies of the group, however, because the islands formerly belonged to Great Britain consequently the inhabitants were English in customs and in language. The islands of that period consisted of[2]:

  • St. Thomas having a population of 12,800 people with sugar and cotton as its chief exports. St. Thomas city was the capital of the island, then a free port, and the chief station of the steam-packets between Southampton, in England, and the West Indies.
  • St. John had a population of about 2,600 people.
  • Santa Cruz though inferior to St. Thomas in commerce, was of greater importance in extent and fertility and had the largest population of 25,600 people.

On January 17, 1917, the islands were sold to the United States for $25 million when the United States and Denmark exchanged their respective treaty ratifications. Danish administration ended March 31, 1917, when the United States took formal possession of the territory and renamed it the United States Virgin Islands.

Christiansted, the main town of St. Croix in the former Danish West Indies

The United States had been interested in the islands for years because of their strategic position near the approach to the Panama Canal and because of the fear that Germany might seize them to use as U-boat bases during World War I.

Postage stamps

Denmark issued stamps for the Danish West Indies from 1856 on; see postage stamps and postal history of the Danish West Indies for more details.

View over Charlotte Amalie

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Dansk Vestindia". Caplex. http://www.caplex.no/Web/ArticleView.aspx?id=9307059. Retrieved 21 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Stewart, K. J., (1864). A Geography for Beginners. Richmond, Va: J W Randloph.

Sources, references and external links

Coordinates: 18°20′00″N 64°50′00″W / 18.3333°N 64.8333°W / 18.3333; -64.8333


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Danish West Indies — those islands of the Virgin Islands occupied by Denmark from the 17th cent. to 1917: now Virgin Islands of the United States …   English World dictionary

  • Danish West Indies —    Also known as the Danish Virgin Islands, these islands in the northeastern Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles accounted for all the Danish New World colonies. They consisted of settlements on the islands of Saint Thomas (28 square miles), Saint John… …   Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914

  • Danish West Indies — geographical name the W Virgin Islands that were until 1917 a Danish possession & now constitute the Virgin Islands of the United States …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Danish West Indies — former name of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Also called Danish Virgin Islands. * * * …   Universalium

  • Danish West Indies — former name of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Also called Danish Virgin Islands …   Useful english dictionary

  • Danish West Indies — Dan′ish West In′dies n. pl. geg former name of the Virgin Islands of the United States …   From formal English to slang

  • Danish West Indies — noun A former colony of Denmark in the Caribbean, so named until it was sold to the USA in 1917, since when it has been known as the United States Virgin Islands …   Wiktionary

  • Danish West Indies — former name of the American Virgin Islands …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Danish West Indies — plural noun former name of Virgin Islands (def. 2) …   Australian English dictionary

  • List of Governors of the Danish West Indies — Being a list of governors of the former Danish colony, the Danish West Indies. Governors of St. Thomas St. Thomas was claimed by the Danish West India Company in 1672.* Jørgen Iversen Dyppel, Governor of St. Thomas (May 25, 1672 July 4, 1680) *… …   Wikipedia


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