Saint Thomas, an island of the West Indies, in the Virgin group, 30 m. E. of Porto Rico, belonging to Denmark; area, about 35 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 14,007, one tenth white, two thirds black, and the remainder mixed. The island is formed by a mountain ridge extending the whole length and attaining an elevation of 1,480 ft. The shores are deeply indented, and the adjacent waters are studded with islets and rocks. The climate is warm, the thermometer ranging from 70° to 90° F. Hurricanes pass over the island about once in 20 years, and do great damage. Earthquakes are very frequent, but serious shocks do not occur oftener than once in 50 years. There is no running stream, and only one small spring; rain water is collected, and droughts are frequent. The soil is not fertile, and the products of the island are insufficient for one twentieth of its inhabitants. In 1873 there were 571 deaths, the chief cause of which, among resident adults, was consumption. Charlotte Amalie, the only town, contains 11,380 inhabitants, and is built along the shore of an excellent bay on the S. side, in lat. 18° 20' N., lon. 64° 56' W. It is a free port. The streets are paved and generally clean; the. houses are supplied with gas, and, although low and poorly built, are comfortable and healthy.
The average annual value of imports is $5,000,000, besides coal. Eight regular steam lines touch here, the total steam tonnage averaging 600,000 tons per annum, and the total entries of all classes of vessels 4,300 per annum. Negotiations for the transfer of the island to the United States having been commenced, a vote was taken in 1867, which resulted in 1,244 for and 22 against; but the project fell through in the United States senate.
Saint Thomas, an island of the gulf of Guinea, belonging to Portugal, in lat. 0° 20' N., lon. 6° 40' E.; area, 145 sq. m.; pop. about 20,000, mostly blacks. In its centre the peak of St. Anna rises to the height of 7,020 ft. The valleys are fertile. The climate of the lowlands is unhealthy, but the southern part is salubrious. Cotton, sugar, indigo, cocoanuts, canella bark, sweet potatoes, manioc, dates, and maize are produced. The principal article of export is coffee. A Portuguese bishop resides at the capital, St. Thomas, which has about 4,000 inhabitants. The island was discovered on St. Thomas's day, 1471, by Vasconcellos.
Saint Thomas, also called Didymus, one of the twelve apostles. Both names, the Hebrew Thomas (Th'om) and the Greek Didymus, denote a twin. Thomas is rarely mentioned in the New Testament, and little is known of him. The principal traits of his character are given in the Gospel of John. When Jesus after his crucifixion appeared to his disciples, Thomas was not present, and refused to believe until he himself saw and touched Jesus. As to the scene of his apostolical labors, the statements of the ecclesiastical writers of the first centuries do not agree; according to some it was Parthia, according to others Egypt and Ethiopia, and according to others India, where the Portuguese in the 16th century asserted that they had found his body. An ancient sect (see Cheistians of St. Thomas), who early in the middle ages were numerous in Persia and still survive in India, claim St. Thomas as their founder; but many theologians consider the account of the labors of St. Thomas in India as having been invented by the Manichaeans, and as early as the 5th century the Thomas of India was regarded by Theodoret as a disciple of Manes. To the apo3tle Thomas an Evangelium Infantioe Christi (also called Evangelium secundum Thomam) is ascribed, which pretends to fill up the gaps left by the canonical Gospels in the time from the infancy of Jesus until his public appearance; but it has always been regarded as apocryphal. (See Thilo, Acta Thomas Apostoli, Leipsic, 1823.) St. Thomas is commemorated in the Roman Catholic church on Dec. 21; in the Greek church on the first Sunday of her church year, beginning with Easter (hence called Thomas Sunday).