- caribbean culture
National Parks of the Virgin islands
Animals of the National Park
There are 140 species of birds, 302 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 22 species of mammals and 740 species of plants inhabiting the Island. In addition there are about 50 corals species and numerous gorgonians, and sponges providing St. Johnian’s and visitors with some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world.
Culture of the Virgin Islands
The first humans arrived in the Virgin Islands between 2500 to 3000 years ago.
The Taino culture developed between 500 to 1000 years ago.
Columbus discovers the islands in 1493.
Visitors from the United States began vacationing and moving to the Virgin Islands between 1920 and 1950.
The Virgin Islands National Park was established in 1956.
Nature of the Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands National Park located in the tropical Atlantic, contains examples of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems. These include various types of dry to moist forests, salt ponds, beaches, mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs. The land is mountainous, with average slopes being 30 percent. Bordeaux mountain, 1286 feet high, plunges sharply to the sea.
Turtles of the Virgin Islands
There are seven species of sea turtles in the world, and three of these inhabit the waters of St. John. The two most common are the green and hawksbill turtles, while the leatherback is rarely seen. Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water only coming ashore to nest. Turtles travel thousands of miles a year.
For those that are not very familiar with the Virgin Islands, you might be surprised to hear that St. John is approximately 60% national park!
Quick history and facts about the St. John National Park
In 1917 the United States bought St. John from Denmark. By the 1930s, news of the beautiful American island had spread to the United States mainland and the beginning of what was to become a tourism boom on St. John was established.
Laurence Rockefeller in 1956 donated land to the Federal Government to establish a National Park. The 5000 acres became the nation’s twenty-ninth National Park. The land was presented to Fred Seaton, who was the Secretary of the Interior, he promised the government would ‘take good and proper care of these precious acres and verdant hills and valleys and miles of sunny, sandy shores’. Since then other donations have been made and presently the Virgin Islands National Park includes 7200 acres of land and 5600 acres of underwater land.
Today St. John thrives as a favored tourist destination. A construction boom in the past couple of years is changing St. John from a quiet, sleepy island to one with a little more traffic and development.
Note: The information contained in this brief history was gathered from St. John Back time Eyewitness Accounts from 1718 to 1956, compiled by Ruth Hull Low and Rafael Valls, printed in 1985, and John Lonzo Anderson’s Random Notes on the History of St. John printed in 1970. Compiled from The National Park Service.
You can also read more on the park at National Geographic by clicking here
Why should you move to the VI? The Virgin Islands is rich with unique Caribbean culture and is one of the many reasons we moved to the Virgin Islands in the first place! Read below to learn about some of the food, music and customs.
Recipes of some of the island’s favorite plates—sure to satisfy any palate!
You can find these scrumptious pates on side street vendors and restaurants alike! Here’s a recipe:
Step I. Pastry
4 cups flour
4 level tablespoons unsalted vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup water
Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in shortening with knives or pastry blender. Add water gradually to form a soft dough. Knead gently on a floured board for a few minutes. Cover and let rest for about 10 minutes. Shape into small balls, roll out and cut into size circles desired for turnovers.
Step II. Filling
1/2 lb. lean ground pork AND
1/2 lb. ground beef OR
1 lb. ground beef (omitting pork)
1 large sweet pepper
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon minced celery
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 tablespoons margarine
1 clove garlic, crushed
Hot pepper to taste (optional)
1/4 cut tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
1 tablespoon fine bread crumbs
Sauté pork in margarine until brown, usually about 10 minutes, add beef and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cook for a few minutes longer (make sure beef is cooked, no longer pink) If filling seems very dry add a little water.
Step III. Prepare and Cook
Place filling on each circle of dough, leaving edge bare, moisten edge with water, turn over and seal meat inside dough by pressing moist edge together with fork. Fry in hot deep fat, until dough in golden brown.
1oz. dried sorrel
3 slices of fresh ginger (1 inch thick)
1 tablespoon cloves
1 piece dried orange peel
10 cups boiling water
A few grains of rice
Optional Ingredient – 1/4 cup white or dark rum
Put water and ginger slices in a large saucepan. Cover and boil well for 3 minutes. Place sorrel, cloves and orange peel in a jar with boiling ginger-water mixture. Allow mixture to sit for 24 hours. Strain the mixture and sweeten to taste (Sorrel is quite tart, so a couple cups of sugar may be necessary.) Add rum. Pour liquid into glass bottle adding a few grains of rice to each bottle. The grains of rice are said to help quicken fermentation. Leave bottles of sorrel un-chilled for a minimum of 24 hours before serving.
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening
To rapidly boiling water add salt and sprinkle cornmeal in slowly, stirring the mixture. Allow water to boil with cornmeal a few minutes. Stir briskly to prevent lumping. When well combined add shortening. Cover and allow to steam for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Okras may be added. Cut the okra into small pieces and allow to boil for a few minutes before adding to the cornmeal. Suggestion: It is difficult to cook a fungi that is lump free. To prevent lumps and get a smooth fungi – mix 1/4 cup of cornmeal with 3/4 water. Add to boiling water, stirring constantly while adding. Let this cook to consistency of a thick cereal, add remaining cornmeal and stir, mashing lumps as you stir.
Local fruits |
Kenips, Star Fruit,Plantains,Mango,Soursop,Passion Fruit, Breadfruit, avocado, pomegranate tamarind, sea grape, coconuts and banana figs
Historically, calypso music can be traced to the days of slavery. It was a means of communication and a vent to the strains of oppression. Calypso has it’s roots on the island of Trinidad. Present in Trinidad during French and Spanish occupation, calypso did not take root until English occupation. With English as the common language Calypso could now be understood by the entire population. Calypsonians are respected as news carriers and what they sing is considered to be truthful interpretations. Calypso is most famously known for expressing political commentary through satire and sarcasm. Today Calypso has evolved into two types, the traditional informative Calypso and a new dance hall type of calypso music.
Soca Music |
Add some soul to Calypso and you have Soca. The origin of the music is Trinidad and Tobago. The lyrics are used to express political and social commentary.
Reggae music is an offshoot of ska music. The order of creation is ska then rock-steady then reggae. Famous reggae artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer began their careers as ska musicians. Ska music started as dance music. Audiences wanted a more steady beat, and the music evolved into the more mellow reggae of today. Reggae lyrics usually have an emphasis on redemption. Reggae music has traveled and become popular across the world.
Is a musical form native to the British Virgin Islands. It is characterized by a variety of instruments and is sometimes called a scratch band.
Is a high energy music characteristic of islands such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Rock Steady |
Is the precursor of reggae. It is slower, heavier and more vocal.
Is a Latin dance music developed in Puerto Rican and Cuban communities in New York.
Is a dance music from the French Antilles and is played in both slow and fast beats.
The word Carnival brings to mind an assortment of images; for music lovers it might mean heated Calypso shows and for children it brings to mind amusement park rides and cotton candy. To those who enjoy Caribbean delicacies Carnival may mean food fair and food/drink booths at the village. And to anyone who has experienced the Carnival parades, the word certainly brings to mind steel drums, bands, colorful costumes, people of all ages dancing in the streets, mocko-jumbies and fireworks. And if none of these images came to mind, perhaps you have never experienced Carnival in the U.S.V.I.
There is no denying that Virgin Islanders love Carnival! It is the most anticipated cultural event of the year! Carnival is a festival celebrating freedom through dancing, singing, parades, pageantry, music, drinks, food, friends and fun. It includes nightly displays of talented bands and individual musicians, pageants for Carnival royalty and fairs showcasing local crafts, food and drinks. Carnival however is much more than a large party. It is an exposition of culture and a treasured tradition that is passed down year after year. It draws on African and European customs including music, dancing and masquerades. Carnival can be found throughout the Caribbean and is celebrated on various islands at different times of the year. In the United States Virgin Islands Carnival events take place on St. Thomas in April/May, St. Croix in December/January and St. John in June/July.
Mocko Jumbies |
Colorfully costumed stilt dancers, like the one in the picture above. They can be seen at carnival parades and other local events. The word jumbie refers to ghost-like spirits of West African belief.
Facts and information taken from: www.VINow.com