Our unique culture and history reflect the West African, Danish, Spanish, Irish, Polish, and German heritage of those who have made the U.S. Virgin Islands their home since the late 1400s. The rhythms and lyrics of Virgin Island music--including calypso, cariso, soca, reggae, and steel pan melodies--are colorful reminders of our past. Virgin Islanders also express themselves in painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. The great Impressionist Camille Pissarro is just one of the Virgin Islands' distinguished artists.
Island traditions come alive during celebrations throughout the year. The Three Kings' Day festival on St. Croix, St. John's Fourth of July celebration, and St. Thomas' annual Carnival are just three examples of the dozens of special events that take place each year. However, on any given day, visitors can catch a glimpse of the unique culture of the islands.
The history of the U.S. Virgin Islands is as rich as its people. Columbus discovered the United States Virgin Islands on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. In the centuries that followed, the islands were ruled by the English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Knights of Malta, and Danes. During World War One, the United States bought the islands from Denmark for $25,000,000 in gold.