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|Deutsch Jungfrau Inseln|
German Virgin IslandsTimeline: Italian Colonial America
(and largest city)
|-||Turnover from Danish to German Rule||31 May 1878|
The German Virgin Islands (German: XXX) officially the Virgin Islands of Germany, are a group of islands in the Caribbean that are an overseas territory of the Germany. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. The German Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Saint John and Saint Thomas, and many other surrounding minor islands. The territory's capital is Charlotte Amalie on the island of Saint Thomas.
Danish Colonization and Early History
The Virgin Islands were originally inhabited by the Ciboney, Carib, and Arawaks. The islands were named by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 for Saint Ursula and her virgin followers. Over the next two hundred years, the islands were held by many European powers, including Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Malta, and Denmark-Norway.
The Danish West India Company settled on Saint Thomas in 1672, settled on Saint John in 1694. The islands became royal Danish colonies in 1754, named the Danish West Indian Islands (Danish: De dansk-vestindiske øer). Sugarcane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries, until the abolition of slavery by Governor Peter von Scholten on July 3, 1848.
Transfer to German Rule
For the remainder of the period of Danish rule the islands were not economically viable and significant transfers were made from the Danish state budgets to the authorities in the islands. In 1867 a treaty to sell Saint Thomas and Saint John to the United States was agreed, but the sale was never effected. A draft treaty was proposed in 1877 that would sell the islands to the German Empire for the sum of 15 million dollars. The treaty passed in the Danish upper and lower houses eventually passing by referendum in the islands. On May 31st 1878 the Danish flag lowered for the last time, and the Danish West Indies ceased to exist.