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date: 24 February 2020

Virgin Islands, United Stateslocked

  • Margot Lieth Philipp
  • , revised by Mark Clague


A group of Caribbean islands lying about 50 miles east of Puerto Rico. They consist of the former Danish West Indies (St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix) and about 50 smaller islets, mostly uninhabited; the islands were purchased by the United States in 1917, named the United States Virgin Islands, and became constitutionally an unincorporated territory. They have a combined area of 133 square miles and in 2010 had a population of 106,405.

The original inhabitants of the islands perished during the European colonial period, and no strictly indigenous musical forms survive, although quelbe (since 2004) is the islands’ official folk music. Slaves brought from Africa to labor on sugar plantations and islanders of African descent comprise the majority of today’s residents. Smaller populations of Asians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Arabs, Caribbean immigrants, United States transplants, and others contribute to the island’s diverse musical culture, which is best characterized as hybrid or syncretic, drawing primarily from West Indian (Caribbean), European, African, and American cultures....

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Black Perspective in Music