Saint Croix


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Saint Croix (pronounced /seɪnt krɔɪ/; Spanish: Santa Cruz) is an island in the Caribbean Sea, and a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. It is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, being 28 by 7 miles (45 by 11 km). However, the territory's capital, Charlotte Amalie, is located on Saint Thomas.

There are two towns on the island; Christiansted with a 2004 population of 3,000 and Frederiksted with a 2004 population of 830. The total population of the island is about 60,000. The official 2000 census count was 53,234, living on a land area of 214.66 km² (82.88 sq mi). Inhabitants are called Crucians and English is the most common language. Spanish is spoken by the large Puerto Rican and smaller Dominican (Dominican Republic) populations, and a French Creole is spoken by the large St. Lucian and Dominican (Dominica) populations. A native English-based dialect known on the island as Crucian, but formally known as Virgin Islands Creole, is also spoken by the majority of the population in informal situations.

Fort Christiansvaern built in 1749 and other buildings are maintained by the National Park Service as the Christiansted National Historic Site.

Buck Island Reef National Monument preserves a 176 acre (71 ha) island just north of Saint Croix and the surrounding reefs. This is a popular destination for snorkelers.

There are several scuba diving companies operating from Christiansted. Off the north coast of the island, there are many good destinations for diving, featuring scenic coral reefs, clear water, and abundant tropical fish. Prominent among these are Cane and Divi bays along with Long reef which encompasses a large portion of the northern side of the island. The reef also serves as a natural barrier against sharks and jellyfish. However around other portions of the island, notably Frederiksted, hammerhead and tiger sharks can be seen. Shark attacks on the island are very rare.

St. Croix lies at 17°45′N, 64°45′W: the easternmost point in the United States is considered to be Point Udall. The island has an area of a little over eighty square miles (207 km²). The terrain is rugged, though not extremely so. The highest point on the island, Mount Eagle, is 1,165 feet (355 m) high. Most of the east end is quite hilly and steep, as is the north side from Christiansted west. From the north side hills a fairly even plain slopes down to the south coast: this was the prime sugar land on the island. The trade wind blows more or less along the length of the island, and the hills of the western part of the island receive a good deal more rain than the east end; annual rainfall is on the whole extremely variable, averaging perhaps forty inches (1000 mm) a year. Fairly severe and extended drought has always been a problem, particularly considering the lack of fresh ground water and lack of freshwater streams, rivers, or bays on the island. The island does have a desalination plant, however most residential homes and businesses have a built-in cistern used to collect rainwater.

Along with other nearby islands, locals celebrate what is known as a full-moon party at the end of every month when there is a full moon in the sky. The annual Agricultural and Food Fair is held in mid-February.

A local festival, termed "Crucian Christmas Festival", is celebrated on St. Croix throughout late December and early January. Every year the Saturday before Mardi Gras there is a local Mardi Croix parade and a dog parade through the North Shore. Several times a year, there is a nighttime festival in Christiansted called "Jump-Up" and a monthly event called "Sunset Jazz" in Frederiksted, where local jazz musicians play along the Frederiksted waterfront.

The St. Croix Half Ironman Triathlon is held in the first week of May.[4] The Triathlon includes a 1.4 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. Because the bicycle route includes a ride up the incredibly steep hill called "The Beast", this triathlon is often nicknamed "Beauty and the Beast".

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