The Cruzan Islands are a group of islands in the Caribbean that is a part of the Scandinavian Realm.
- Official Long Names:
- Official Short Names:
- Population: ca 150 thousand.
- Provisional Capital: Christiansted. (The former capital was Charlotte Amalie, which was completely destroyed by an atomic blast in 2004).
- Other important towns: Frederiksted, Kraal Baai, Vegby, Hoppesby.
- Official languages: Riksmål, Negerhollands (Cruzan Dutch Creole).
- Other languages: Castilian, Dutch, French, English.
- Head of State: Archqueen Margrethe II, represented by the Rigsombudsman Koedjo Jaap Hansen Cornelins.
- Head of Government: Stateminister Bep Karl Jansen Durloos (Venstre Party).
The Cruzan Islands are a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. It consists of Sankt Kruis, Krabbo-eeland, and the Virgin Isles archipelago. The Virgin Isles archipelago consists of several scores of small islands and cays between the following six main islands: Slang-eeland, Sankt Thomas, Sankt Jan, Tortola, Maagden Gorda, and Anegada.
The Cruzan islands are known for their white sand beaches, including Magens Baai, Caneel Baai, and Trunk Baai, and strategic harbors, including Charlotte Amalie and Kraal Baai. Most of the islands are volcanic in origin and very hilly with little level land. The highest peaks are Kroonberg (1555 ft) in Skt.Thomas, and Salvieberg (1709 ft) in Tortola. The Virgin Isles are not suitable for agriculture, and the original tropical dry forest vegetation still covers much of them. On the other hand, Skt.Kruis and Krabbo-eeland, the largest of the Cruzan Islands, have much flatter terrain and is used for agriculture.
The climate is subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, with relatively low humidity. There is little seasonal temperature variation. The rainy season is from May to November. Most of the moisture falls on the northwestern portions of the islands, leaving the southeastern portions fairly dry.
Natural hazards include earthquakes, çunamis, and furucanos. Droughts can also be a problem since natural sources of freshwater is extrememly limited. The islands do not have natural aquafers (though Tortola has seasonal streams and springs). Most of the islands' water supply comes from rainwater cisterns.
See also SR Climate and Geography
On his second journey to the New World in 1493, Christopher Columbus anchored his fleet at Salt Baai in Skt.Kruis and names the island Santa Cruz (or Sankt Kruis in Cruzan). He also named the islands north of Skt.Kruis as "St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins". Today they are simply referred to as the Virgin Islands, or the Cruzan Islands - since they were administered from Skt.Kruis for much of their colonial history.
The Cruzan Islands were originally settled by Ciboney, Carib, and Arawak indians. But these indians would later be wiped out by the Castilians who enslaved them in plantations in Porto Rico. Thus, the islands were completely uninhabited when various European powers, including Castile, England, the Netherlands, France, and the Knights of Malta, claimed Skt.Kruis. Meanwhile, the Virgin Isles were left unclaimed because their rugged terrain made them unsuitable for establishing a plantation economy. In 1666, Denmark-Norway tried to established its own colony in Skt.Thomas, but this was abandoned two years later after pirate attacks and disease had wiped out most of the settlers.
The Danish-Norwegians later returned when the Dansk Vestindiske Compagnie (Danish West Indian Company) formally claimed Skt.Thomas in 1672. Attempts to work the plantations themselves proved dangerous to the health of these northerners, who were used to a much colder climate, and so the following year the Danish-Norwegians began doing what other Europeans were doing at the time: importing enslaved Guineans. The triangular trade between Europe, Guinea, and the West Indies proved lucrative that the Dansk Guinea Compagnie (Danish Guinea Company) and the Dansk Vestindiske Compagnie merged to form the Dansk Guinea-Vestindiske Compagnie in 1674. In 1682, Krabbo-eeland, which was much more suited for plantations, was formally claimed by the Dansk Guinea-Vestindiske Compagnie, followed by the entire Virgin Isles in 1684. However, it would not be until 1718 that the other islands would formally be settled by the Dansk Guinea-Vestindiske Compagnie.
In 1685, the German, though Dutch controlled, Brandenburg Company were allowed to settle in Skt.Thomas. Most of the European settlers were in fact Dutchmen, and their language would later be creolized by the Cruzan Islanders.
The many small coves and islands of the Virgin Isles' were a magnet for smuglers and pirates. Rather than fight them, the first few Danish-Norwegian governors and the Brandenburgers befriended them and formed a lucrative alliance with them. The officious governor, Nicolai Esmit, even established as much as four taphuses (pubs or inns) so that the growing settlement in Skt.Thomas with only one row of buildings along the strand quickly became known as Taphus until it was later renamed Charlotte Amalie in 1691 in honor of King Christian V's queen. It's no wonder that Charlotte Amalie earned an international reputation as a pirate's haven for the next few decades. The illicit trade, however, quickly made Charlotte Amalie the largest city in the Antilles and the second largest city in the Danish-Norwegian realm by the mid 18th century. In 1764, Charlotte Amalie recieves freeport status - a status it kept until it was destroyed by an atomic blast in 2004.
In 1733, the Dansk Guinea-Vestindiske Compagnie purchased Skt.Kruis from the French. Plantations were quickly established and a capital city founded at Christiansted. That same year, several natural disasters struck the islands: a drought, locusts, two very severe furucanos, and famine. The unwise governor, Philip Gardelin, also introduced disciplinary rules against the slaves that were quite severe. This sparked a slave rebellion in Skt.Jan, which was only defeated in 1734 after English and French assistance.
In 1755, the King purchases the majority of shares in the Dansk Guinea-Vestindiske Compagnie and turns it into the Kongelige Guinea-Vestindiske Handel (Royal Guinea-West Indian Trade Department). The islands then become a crown colony under the corporatocracy of the Kongelige Vestindiske Handel. The colony became known as Dansk Vestindien (Danish West Indies). But because the capital of Dansk Vestindien was in Christiansted in Skt.Kruis, the colony was popularly called De Croixiske Øer (the Cruzan Islands).
The period of enlightenment that sweeped through Scandinavia in the late 18th century also affected the islands. In 1787, Denmark-Norway introduced the first public schooling system for slave-children in the New World, and in 1792, the Danish-Norwegian government was the first country to declare the slave trade illegal. But it was still legal to own slaves.
The islands most beloved governor is Peter Carl Frederik von Scholten (1784-1854). He was governor-general from 1827 to 1848. He was considerably more humane towards the slaves than all the other whites, and he lived together with his free negro mistress, Anne Heegard. He introduced several regulations aimed at improving the lives of the slaves. Emancipation was already a pressing issue at the time, and von Scholten saw education as the right road to freedom. In 1839, he introduced the first public school system with mandatory attendance in the West Indies. It was his hope that once the slaves would be freed, they would be able to cope with equality much better. He even followed the exams with great interest. In 1847, in an attempt to ease the transition from slavery to freedom, the government of the Scandinavian Realm made a not very well thought out proclaimation that stated that from then on all children born of slaves were free while the parents would become free within the next 12 years. As it turned out, the adult slaves did not want to wait 12 years, and an impending revolt in 1848 was avoided when von Scholten declared the emancipation of the slaves without the permission from his superiors in Copenhagen.
The newly won freedom was, however, somewhat of an illusion. It was replaced by poverty with material circumstances much worse than slavery. In 1849, serfdom was introduced. Former slaves were now forbidden to leave their district of birth between the ages of 14 and 36. This was to avoid a situation like that plaguing the the British colonies where slums were growing uncontrollably after they had emancipated their own slaves without much thought in 1833. What made things more difficult for the for the people of the Cruzan Islands was that sugar prices were plummeting and the economy was deteriorating. Serfdom was only abolished in the Cruzan Islands after the Fierbran ("Fireburn") Revolt of 1866 where several towns, including the capital, Christiansted, was burned down. Charlotte Amalie, however, was sparred and so the capital was moved to Charlotte Amalie.
The economy continued to deteriorate in the last decades of the 19th century. Many that could migrated to Danish Guinea (i.e., Gjebaland, The Pepper Coast, and Gadangmeland). In 1915, David Jacksen Hamilton, formed a socialist workers union after his visit to the Rigsråd in Gjøteborg. That same year, a government commission from Gjøteborg was sent to the islands to figure out what had to be done to improve the economy, but nothing came of it. Hamilton then proclaims a general strike in 1916. Similar strikes occured throughout the Scandinavian Realm. This brings about the downfall of the conservative government, and the social democrats are elected to power. In 1936, Danish Guinea and the Danish West Indies managed to save up to appropriate the Kongelige Guinea-Vestindiske Handel, and the islands become an independent state within the Scandinavian Realm.
Their independence was short-lived, however. In 1946, while the SR was busily engaged in the Second Great War in Europe, Florida-Caribbea invaded the islands and annexed them. The Cruzan government fled in exile to Gjebaland, and for the next six decades, the SR waged a privateering war against Florida-Caribbea in an effort to force them to give up the Cruzan Islands. The conflict culminated in 2004 with the Florida War. Freedom was restored to the islands but at the cost of losing Charlotte Amalie, which was completely destroyed by an atomic blast.
After their liberation from Florida-Caribbea, the Cruzan Islands are making tourism their primary economic activity, accounting for at least ½ of employment and GDP. The islands hope to host at least 1 million visitors a year. The manufacturing sector consists of textile and rum distilling. The agricultural sector is still large, with sugar plantations and dairy farms.
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