Central America and Caribbean :: Virgin Islands
(territory of the US)
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Virgin Islands
Location of Virgin Islands
 
Map of Virgin Islands
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
18 20 N, 64 50 W
total: 1,910 sq km
country comparison to the world: 181
land: 346 sq km
water: 1,564 sq km
twice the size of Washington, DC
0 km
188 km
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
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Crown Mountain 475 m
sun, sand, sea, surf
arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 2.86%
other: 91.43% (2005)
NA
several hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes
lack of natural freshwater resources
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
109,825 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 190
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) (2009 est.)
total: 39.1 years
male: 38.6 years
female: 39.6 years (2009 est.)
-0.029% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
11.95 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
6.75 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
-5.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
urban population: 95% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 7.56 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 165
male: 8.28 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 79.05 years
country comparison to the world: 35
male: 76.02 years
female: 82.26 years (2009 est.)
1.85 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
NA
NA
NA
noun: Virgin Islander(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Virgin Islander
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.)
NA
Government ::Virgin Islands
conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form: Virgin Islands
former: Danish West Indies
abbreviation: USVI
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
NA
name: Charlotte Amalie
geographic coordinates: 18 21 N, 64 56 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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)
Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 31 March (1917)
Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954
based on US laws
18 years of age; universal; island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
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
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 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%
unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2010)
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 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2010)
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)
Democratic Party [Arturo WATLINGTON]; Independent Citizens' Movement or ICM [Usie RICHARDS]; Republican Party [Gary SPRAUVE]
NA
IOC, UPU, WFTU
none (territory of the US)
none (territory of the US)
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 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
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, 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.
$1.577 billion (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
$NA
2% (2002 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
$14,500 (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)
49,820 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)
6.2% (2004)
country comparison to the world: 78
28.9% (2002)
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
revenues: $837 million
expenditures: $837 million (FY08/09)
2.2% (2003)
country comparison to the world: 21
fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics
NA%
776.4 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
722 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
0 kWh (2008 est.)
0 kWh (2008 est.)
17,620 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
72,860 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
388,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
480,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 26
0 bbl
country comparison to the world: 117
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 90
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
$4.234 billion (2001)
country comparison to the world: 117
refined petroleum products
$4.609 billion (2001)
country comparison to the world: 121
crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
$NA
the US dollar is used
Communications ::Virgin Islands
74,200 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 153
80,300 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 186
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
AM 6, FM 16, shortwave 0 (2005)
5 (2006)
.vi
8,726 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 121
30,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 180
Transportation ::Virgin Islands
2 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 202
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2009)
total: 1,257 km (2007)
country comparison to the world: 179
Charlotte Amalie, Limetree Bay
Military ::Virgin Islands
males age 16-49: 17,820
females age 16-49: 21,193 (2009 est.)
male: 831
female: 873 (2009 est.)
defense is the responsibility of the US
Transnational Issues ::Virgin Islands
none