The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Saint Thomas (West Indies)
SAINT THOMAS, an island of the West Indies, in the Virgin group, 30 m. E. of Porto Rico, belonging to Denmark; area, about 35 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 14,007, one tenth white, two thirds black, and the remainder mixed. The island is formed by a mountain ridge extending the whole length and attaining an elevation of 1,480 ft. The shores are deeply indented, and the adjacent waters are studded with islets and rocks. The climate is warm, the thermometer ranging from 70° to 90° F. Hurricanes pass over the island about once in 20 years, and do great damage. Earthquakes are very frequent, but serious shocks do not occur oftener than once in 50 years. There is no running stream, and only one small spring; rain water is collected, and droughts are frequent. The soil is not fertile, and the products of the island are insufficient for one twentieth of its inhabitants. In 1873 there were 571 deaths, the chief cause of which, among resident adults, was consumption. Charlotte Amalie, the only town, contains 11,380 inhabitants, and is built along the shore of an excellent bay on the S. side, in lat. 18° 20' N., lon. 64° 56' W. It is a free port. The streets are paved and generally clean; the houses are supplied with gas, and, although low and poorly built, are comfortable and healthy. The average annual value of imports is $5,000,000, besides coal. Eight regular steam lines touch here, the total steam tonnage averaging 600,000 tons per annum, and the total entries of all classes of vessels 4,300 per annum. Negotiations for the transfer of the island to the United States having been commenced, a vote was taken in 1867, which resulted in 1,244 for and 22 against; but the project fell through in the United States senate.