Virgin Islands

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Introduction - Virgin Islands:


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.

Location - 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
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 475 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:


108,448 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 21.8% (male 11,897/female 11,696)
15-64 years: 66.5% (male 34,204/female 37,911)
65 years and over: 11.7% (male 5,642/female 7,098) (2007 est.)

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

Median age

total: 37.7 years
male: 36.7 years
female: 38.5 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

-0.171% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

13.68 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

6.59 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

-8.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.017 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.902 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.795 male(s)/female
total population: 0.912 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.69 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.2 years
male: 75.4 years
female: 83.22 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.16 children born/woman (2007 est.)

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.)

Government - Virgin Islands:

Country name

conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form: Virgin Islands
former: Danish West Indies
abbreviation: USVI

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), 27 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 George W. BUSH of the US (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001)
head of government: Governor John DeJONGH (since 1 January 2007)
cabinet: NA
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; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 7 and 21 November 2006 (next to be held November 2010)
election results: John DeJONGH elected governor; percent of vote - John DeJONGH 57.3%, Kenneth MAPP 42.7%

Legislative branch

unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 8, ICM 4, independent 3
note: the Virgin Islands elects one non-voting representative to the US House of Representatives; election last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held November 2008)

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, 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 one talon and three arrows in the other with a superimposed shield of vertical red and white stripes below a blue panel

Economy - Virgin Islands:

Economy overview

Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for 80% of GDP and employment. The islands hosted 2.6 million visitors in 2005. The manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, textiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. One of the worlds 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.)

Gdp official exchange rate


Gdp real growth rate

2% (2002 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$14,500 (2004 est.)

Gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)

Labor force

43,980 (2004 est.)

Labor force by occupation

agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate

6.2% (2004)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate consumer prices

2.2% (2003)


revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA

Agriculture products

fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle


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

Industrial production growth rate


Electricity production

980 million kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption

911.4 million kWh (2004)

Electricity exports

0 kWh (2004)

Electricity imports

0 kWh (2004)

Oil production

17,110 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil consumption

115,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports

NA bbl/day

Oil imports

NA bbl/day

Oil proved reserves

0 bbl

Natural gas production

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption

0 cu m (2004 est.)


$4.234 billion (2001)

Exports commodities

refined petroleum products

Exports partners

US, Puerto Rico (2006)


$4.609 billion (2001)

Imports commodities

crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials

Imports partners

US, Puerto Rico (2006)

Debt external


Economic aid recipient


Currency code

US dollar (USD)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

Communications - Virgin Islands:

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Telephones main lines in use

71,700 (2005)

Telephones mobile cellular

80,300 (2005)

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; 2 submarine cable connections (Taino Carib, Americas-1); satellite earth stations - NA

Radio broadcast stations

AM 6, FM 16, shortwave 0 (2005)

Television broadcast stations

5 (2006)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

3,855 (2006)

Internet users

30,000 (2005)

Transportation - Virgin Islands:


2 (2006)

Airports with paved runways

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2006)


total: 1,257 km (2004)

Ports and terminals

Charlotte Amalie, Limetree Bay

Military - Virgin Islands:

Military note

defense is the responsibility of the US

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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