Last Updated: September 19, 2021
Virgin Islands - American Paradise
The Virgin Islands is a group of various dispersed islands and is a distinct region with a subnational status. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea and the estimated population here is around 105,000. With the signing of the Treaty of Danish West Indies in 1917, the islands became the unincorporated territory of the US. Ever since it has been known as the United States Virgin Islands. This region does not enjoy sovereignty, and the people, despite being US citizens, do not have the right to vote for a US president. Major islands in this territory are St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. Charlotte Amalie (located in St. Thomas Island) is the capital.
The Virgin Islands experience a tropical climate with abundant rain and sunshine. Before being discovered by Christopher Columbus, the islands used to be inhabited by the Carib and Arawak tribes. The islands were named after the legend of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. The islands are rich in diversity with a population comprising various races namely Afro-Caribbean, Whites, Hispanic, and Asian. English is the widely spoken language here. Other languages include French, Creole, Spanish and Danish.
This is the largest of the Virgin Islands with a population of around 50,000. The island of St. Croix used to be the most prosperous in this territory with a rich history. It used to be a major hub for trade and commerce with a thriving sugar production industry. The island got its nickname 'Twin City' because of the two popular towns within the island, Frederiksted, and Christiansted. It is also widely known for its cultural diversity and scenic beauty. Popular sites on this island are Buck Island National Monument, Whim Plantation Museum, Turtle Beach, and St. George Village Botanical Gardens.
St. Thomas island is not very different from a bustling cosmopolitan city with the only exception being its Caribbean atmosphere. The capital of the Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie, is located here. 'Rock City' is the island's popular nickname. It is also home to the University of the Virgin Islands. The island has various shops, restaurants, and live music for visitors to pass time and relax. Popular tourist attractions include Coral World Marine Park & Observatory, Paradise Tram, Havensight Mall, Mahogany Run Golf Course, Sapphire Beach, and Magens Bay.
This is the smallest of the three major islands and is known for its breathtaking view. Much like its neighboring islands, St. John also has its deep roots steeped in rich history and is culturally diverse. The island is popular for its underwater National Park which offers the best view of life and creatures underwater. It got its nickname 'Love City' because of the loving and welcoming nature of the communities residing here. Popular attractions include Virgin Islands National Park, Maho Beach, Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins, Hawksnest Beach, and Reef Bay Trail.
- Sugarcane production used to be the most predominant industry that contributed to the economic growth of the Virgin Islands in the past.
- At present, tourism is the leading sector followed by trade, manufacturing, and real estate.
- The HOVENSA oil refinery was a major source of employment in the Virgin Islands with its petroleum exports. Unfortunately, on suffering substantial losses, the refinery was shut down in 2012, which affected the economy significantly.
- In 2017, the islands experienced two deadly hurricanes that led to severe damages on a large scale. The process of recovery was ongoing when the entire world was affected by the covid-19 pandemic. However, the people of this region were not widely affected.
- Though tourism and hospitality sectors faced major setbacks after the hurricanes, the construction sector saw significant growth.
- It was expected that the pandemic would affect the tourism industry which was the most important sector for economic growth. Contrary to this belief, the islands turned out to be a safe haven for a majority of tourists who wished to get vaccinated, as well as enjoy the place while escaping the chaos of the mainland.
- Agriculture, fishing, and rum production are also other important economic sectors of the islands.
Tuition Fee and Living Cost in Virgin Islands
The cost of living in the American Paradise is a lot higher than the mainland or the national average. Housing costs, groceries, electricity, clothing, transport, almost everything is expensive and not very affordable for the common masses to settle in, and is ideal just for a short trip. The average household income in the Virgin Islands is roughly $38,000. Frequent storms and hurricanes in the islands make living in the islands problematic and give way to severe losses, debts, and homelessness.
The islands have one institution of higher learning, that is, the University of the Virgin Islands which has its campuses in the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix. With an in-state fee of about $6,300 and an out-of-state fee of around $16,000 for undergraduates, higher education is not very expensive. With the availability of several scholarships, pursuing a desired major in this university will not be much of a hassle.
List of Few Major Universities/Colleges
The American Paradise is famed for its scenic beauty, but very little is known about its education system. Being just an archipelago, it does consist of a few educational institutions for young children, but not a lot for post-secondary education. There is only one institution of higher learning in this territory, and that is, the University of the Virgin Islands.
University of the Virgin Islands
The University of the Virgin Islands is a 4-year historically black institution located in the capital of the Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie. It was founded in 1962 and was formerly known as the College of Virgin Islands. Adhering to its motto, "Historically American. Uniquely Caribbean. Globally Interactive.", the university is indeed diverse with an extremely friendly atmosphere. With more than 100 faculty members and roughly 2,300 students, the student-to-faculty ratio is 12:1. This institute aims to promote excellent learning to students and gravitate them towards public service, as well as the development of the community both socially, and economically. The tuition fee for undergraduate in-state students is about $6,300 and around $16,000 for out-of-state undergraduate students.
Scholarships/Financial Aid for Students
- Virgin Islands Territorial Grants/Loans Program: This is a grant program sponsored by the Virgin Islands Board of Education. To be eligible for the program, the student should be a permanent citizen of the US, display financial need, secure more than 2.0 GPA, establish residency in the Virgin Islands, and attend an accredited 2-year or 4-year institution. The amount and the number of awards may vary depending on the availability of funds.
- Anna Green Walsh Scholar Award: To be eligible for the program, the student must have attended high school in the Virgin Islands, be a US citizen, display financial need, and enroll in an undergraduate program at an accredited institution on a full-time basis. The award will be given to four undergraduate students, and the amount will be $2,500.
- Judy and Scott Barber Family Scholarship: This is a need-based and merit-based program. To be qualified, the student must have attended high school in the Virgin Islands, be a US citizen, secure and maintain a score of 3.0 GPA or more, display financial need, and enroll in an undergraduate program at an accredited institution on a full-time basis. The award is for one undergraduate student who will receive an amount of $2,500.
- BECA, Inc. Edna R. Anthony Memorial Scholarship: This is a scholarship program initiated by The Women of BECA, Inc. in the memory of Edna R. Anthony. To be qualified, the applicant must attend a historically black institution, and pursue a major in Criminal Justice, Nursing, Journalism, or any related field. The student should also have attended high school in the Virgin Islands, be a US citizen, and maintain a score of 2.5 GPA or more. The award amount is $1,000.
There are several other grants offered by the government based on different needs, majors, or vocations. Read Virgin Islands Grants
for more details.
The Virgin Islands are rightly called the American Paradise as it offers a lot to its visitors, from the best visual treats of nature to the wide variety of fun activities. It will be best to spend some time in each of the major islands of this territory so that one can experience the joy and variety each island offers. Geographically they are islands, but on a more soulful level, these islands give out the feeling of exhilaration as well as relaxation through a blend of forests, beaches, and towns. One can easily get to explore various sides of the islands, their architecture, customs, festivals, food, local arts and crafts, and so much more. Iconic delicacies in this region are Kallaloo, Pumpkin Fritters, the Danish Red Grout, Stewed Oxtail, Rum, and Jerk Chicken. Top destinations include Virgin Islands National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. George Village Botanical Gardens, Trunk Bay Beach & Underwater Snorkel Trail, and Heritage Trail.
Universities & Colleges in Virgin Islands
*UG - Undergraduate
*G - Graduate
*in - In-state Fees
*out - Out-of-State Fees
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