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Virgin Islands (Central America and Caribbean)

Introduction ::Virgin Islands


During the 17th century, the archipelago was divided into two territorial units, one English and the other Danish. Sugarcane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1917, the US purchased the Danish portion, which had been in economic decline since the abolition of slavery in 1848.

Geography ::Virgin Islands


Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic
Ocean, east of Puerto Rico

Geographic coordinates:
18 20 N, 64 50 W

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 1,910 sq km country comparison to the world: 181 land: 346 sq km

water: 1,564 sq km

Area - comparative:

twice the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:

0 km


188 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to November


mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

highest point: Crown Mountain 474 m

Natural resources:

sun, sand, sea, surf

Land use:

arable land: 5.71%

permanent crops: 2.86%

other: 91.43% (2005)

Irrigated land:

Natural hazards:

several hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes

Environment - current issues:

lack of natural freshwater resources

Geography - note:

important location along the Anegada Passage - a key shipping lane for the Panama Canal; Saint Thomas has one of the best natural deepwater harbors in the Caribbean

People ::Virgin Islands


109,750 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 189

Age structure:

0-14 years: 20.4% (male 11,394/female 11,048)

15-64 years: 65.9% (male 33,843/female 38,574)

65 years and over: 13.6% (male 6,747/female 8,219) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 39.8 years

male: 39.2 years

female: 40.2 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

-0.072% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 207

Birth rate:

11.51 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 170

Death rate:

6.96 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 132

Net migration rate:

-5.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 199


urban population: 95% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 0.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.059 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female

total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 7.4 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 166 male: 8.14 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 79.19 years country comparison to the world: 38 male: 76.14 years

female: 82.41 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.81 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 155

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:


noun: Virgin Islander(s) (US citizens)

adjective: Virgin Islander

Ethnic groups:

black 76.2%, white 13.1%, Asian 1.1%, other 6.1%, mixed 3.5% (2000 census)


Baptist 42%, Roman Catholic 34%, Episcopalian 17%, other 7%


English 74.7%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 16.8%, French or French
Creole 6.6%, other 1.9% (2000 census)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 90-95% est.

male: NA

female: NA (2005 est.)

Education expenditures:

Government ::Virgin Islands

Country name:

conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands

conventional short form: Virgin Islands

former: Danish West Indies

abbreviation: USVI

Dependency status:

organized, unincorporated territory of the US with policy relations between the Virgin Islands and the US under the jurisdiction of the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior

Government type:


name: Charlotte Amalie

geographic coordinates: 18 21 N, 64 56 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

none (territory of the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are three islands at the second order; Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas


none (territory of the US)

National holiday:

Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 31 March (1917)


Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954

Legal system:

based on US laws


18 years of age; universal; island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)

head of government: Governor John DeJONGH (since 1 January 2007)

cabinet: NA (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as the Virgin Islands, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in the Democratic and Republican presidential primary elections; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held on 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2014)

election results: John DeJONGH reelected governor; percent of vote - John DeJONGH 56.3%, Kenneth MAPP 43.6%

Legislative branch:

unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)

elections: last held on 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2012)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 10, ICM 2, independent 3

note: the Virgin Islands elects one non-voting representative to the US House of Representatives; election last held 2 November 2010 (next to be held on November 2012)

Judicial branch:

US District Court of the Virgin Islands (under Third Circuit jurisdiction); Superior Court of the Virgin Islands (judges appointed by the governor for 10-year terms)

Political parties and leaders:

Democratic Party [Arturo WATLINGTON]; Independent Citizens' Movement or ICM [Usie RICHARDS]; Republican Party [Gary SPRAUVE]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

International organization participation:

Diplomatic representation in the US:

none (territory of the US)

Diplomatic representation from the US:

none (territory of the US)

Flag description:

white field with a modified US coat of arms in the center between the large blue initials V and I; the coat of arms shows a yellow eagle holding an olive branch in its right talon and three arrows in the left with a superimposed shield of seven red and six white vertical stripes below a blue panel; white is a symbol of purity, the letters stand for the Virgin Islands

National anthem:

name: "Virgin Islands March"

lyrics/music: multiple/Alton Augustus ADAMS, Sr.

note: adopted 1963; serves as a local anthem; as a territory of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)

Economy ::Virgin Islands

Economy - overview:

Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for 80% of GDP and employment. The islands hosted 2.4 million visitors in 2008. The manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, rum distilling, textiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. One of the world's largest petroleum refineries is at Saint Croix. The agricultural sector is small, with most food being imported. International business and financial services are small but growing components of the economy. The islands are vulnerable to substantial damage from storms. The government is working to improve fiscal discipline, to support construction projects in the private sector, to expand tourist facilities, to reduce crime, and to protect the environment.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$1.577 billion (2004 est.) country comparison to the world: 193

GDP (official exchange rate):

GDP - real growth rate:

2% (2002 est.) country comparison to the world: 149

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$14,500 (2004 est.) country comparison to the world: 80

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 1%

industry: 19%

services: 80% (2003 est.)

Labor force:

49,820 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 189

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 1%

industry: 19%

services: 80% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

6.2% (2004) country comparison to the world: 59

Population below poverty line:

28.9% (2002)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.2% (2003) country comparison to the world: 62

Agriculture - products:

fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle


tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics

Industrial production growth rate:

Electricity - production:

776.4 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 151

Electricity - consumption:

722 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 150

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

16,870 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 76

Oil - consumption:

88,820 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 82

Oil - exports:

388,000 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 33

Oil - imports:

480,600 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 27

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 107

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 113

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 163

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 100

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 116

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 121


$4.234 billion (2001) country comparison to the world: 116

Exports - commodities:

refined petroleum products


$4.609 billion (2001) country comparison to the world: 120

Imports - commodities:

crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials

Debt - external:

Exchange rates:

the US dollar is used

Communications ::Virgin Islands

Telephones - main lines in use:

75,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 150

Telephones - mobile cellular:

80,300 (2005) country comparison to the world: 190

Telephone system:

general assessment: modern system with total digital switching, uses fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay

domestic: full range of services available

international: country code - 1-340; submarine cable connections to US, the Caribbean, Central and South America; satellite earth stations - NA

Broadcast media:

about a dozen television broadcast stations including 1 public TV station; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; 24 radio stations broadcasting (2009)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

8,933 (2010) country comparison to the world: 129

Internet users:

30,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 180

Transportation ::Virgin Islands


2 (2010) country comparison to the world: 201

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)


total: 1,260 km (2008) country comparison to the world: 179

Ports and terminals:

Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, Cruz Bay, Frederiksted, Limetree Bay

Military ::Virgin Islands

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 17,675

females age 16-49: 21,070 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 805

female: 849 (2010 est.)

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues ::Virgin Islands

Disputes - international:


Political divisions of the United States

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

Federal district : Washington, D.C.
Insular areas : American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands | Puerto Rico | U.S. Virgin Islands

Outlying islands : Baker Island | Howland Island | Jarvis Island | Johnston Atoll |Kingman Reef Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Palmyra Atoll | Wake Island

Indian reservations : List of Indian reservations

Associated states : Micronesia, Federated States of | Marshall Islands | Palau


Hellenica World - Scientific Library