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The Danish West Indies (Danish: Dansk Vestindien or De dansk-vestindiske øer) or "Danish Antilles", were a colony of Denmark-Norway and Denmark in the Caribbeanmarker, now known as the United States Virgin Islandsmarker. Jomfruøerne ("Virgin Islands") is the Danish geographic name for the Virgin Islands.


The Danish West India and Guinea Company settled on St. Thomasmarker island first in 1672, expanding to St. Johnmarker in 1683 (a move disputed with the Britishmarker until 1718), and purchasing St. Croixmarker from the French West Indies Company in 1733. In 1754, the islands were sold to the Danish king, Frederick V of Denmark, becoming royal Danish colonies.

At times during the Napoleonic Wars, the islands were occupied by the British; first from March 1801 to March 27, 1802, and then again from December 1807 to November 20, 1815, when they were returned to Denmark.

Until 1904, there was no official currency for the Danish West Indies, which had led first to the Spanish milled dollar and then the United States dollar being used as the local currency. In 1904, the Danish-West Indian National Bank was established to provide an official currency. Rather than continue with the existing U.S. denominations or introducing the Danish kroner, the bank opted to use the Latin Monetary Union standard with francs and bit.

On January 17, 1917, the islands were sold to the United States for $25 million when the United States and Denmark exchanged their respective treaty ratifications. Danish administration ended March 31, 1917, when the United States took formal possession of the territory and renamed it the United States Virgin Islandsmarker.

The United States had been interested in the islands for years because of their strategic position near the approach to the Panama Canalmarker and because of the fear that Germany might seize them to use as U-boat bases during World War I.

Postage stamps

Denmark issued stamps for the Danish West Indies from 1856 on; see postage stamps and postal history of the Danish West Indies for more details.

See also

Sources, references and external links

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