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The United States Virgin Islands, or the US Virgin Islands, are part of the Virgin Island archipelago in the Caribbean. Similar to its British counterpart, they are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. The Virgin Islands (main islands being St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix), were named by Christopher Columbus on his second journey into the west Indies. Though first inhabited by the Caribs and the Arawaks, European settlers soon came and took over the land. The US Virgin Islands have changed hands throughout the succeeding years, mostly European. First there were the Spaniards, then it fell unto British rule, followed by the Netherlands, France, then Denmark. US Virgin IslandsIt was the Danish who helped in building the islands’ economy, with the settlement of the Danish West India Company on the island of Saint Thomas in 1672. To this day, the US Virgin Islands are often refered to as the Danish West Indian Islands by the people of Denmark. While the Dutch helped the economy of the country flourish under their rule, it also started its decline while under their control. With the abolition of the slavery in July 3, 1848, the sugarcane industry and the economy was greatly affected. A treaty was proposed to sell the islands of St. Thomas and St. John to the United States in 1867. There was a general consensus, but the sale never pushed through. A second treaty was pushed 35 years later, but it majority of the Danish parliament voted against it. It was World War I that finally made the Danish Crown sell the islands to the United States. In fears of the islands being taken by the Germans in their attack of the USA. Coupled with the burden of supporting a failing economy, the Denmark finally handed over the islands on March 31, 1917. Today, the US Virgin Islands are a favorite vacation destination of Americans, specially during the winter months. December to May sees the highest tourist entries, the balmy breeze of the Caribbean offering a warm respite to the cold winds and snow up north. The best time to travel to the US Virgin Islands is between June to August, when the rates drops by almost 30%, and the water is clearer for better visibility when diving.