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With its sea-swept landscapes, historic towns, duty-free shopping and luxurious resorts, the
UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
bask in the combination of familiar yet exotic that makes them one of the most popular cruise-ship destinations in the Caribbean. America aside, it's the Danes who have had the most influence on the islands. Successful sugarcane exporters and slave dealers, they built most of the major towns, and there are plentiful reminders of their presence in the
of the historic cities of Charlotte Amalie and Christiansted and in the ruins of sugar plantations scattered across the green mountainous slopes.
Of the sixty islands, islets and cays (most of which are uninhabited) that make up the USVI, the biggest and busiest are St Thomas, St Croix and St John. Each has a distinctive mood and culture, and you haven't really seen the USVI until you've checked out all three.
, with its picturesque capital, Charlotte Amalie, is the most American of the islands - hip and stylish (at least compared to the rest of the Caribbean) with upmarket shops and restaurants and a history born of trade rather than sugar.
, the largest of the islands, is the most distant so sees little of the hordes that flock to St Thomas and St John, though the cruise-ship ports of Christiansted and Frederiksted still attract visitors with their mix of historic sights and good shopping and restaurants.
, the smallest of the islands is virtually all wilderness, its National Park, part on land, part underwater, the major attraction for its miles of hiking trails and quiet beaches.
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