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Central America :: Virgin Islands Print
Page last updated on November 13, 2018
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VIRGIN ISLANDS
  • Introduction :: Virgin Islands
  • Background field listing
    The Danes secured control over the southern Virgin Islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Croix during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Sugarcane, produced by African slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1917, the US purchased the Danish holdings, which had been in economic decline since the abolition of slavery in 1848. On 6 September 2017, Hurricane Irma passed over the northern Virgin Islands of Saint Thomas and Saint John and inflicted severe damage to structures, roads, the airport on Saint Thomas, communications, and electricity. Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Maria passed over the island of Saint Croix in the southern Virgin Islands, inflicting considerable damage with heavy winds and flooding rains.
  • Geography :: Virgin Islands
  • Location field listing
    Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    18 20 N, 64 50 W
    Map references field listing
    Central America and the Caribbean
    Area field listing
    total: 1,910 sq km
    land: 346 sq km
    water: 1,564 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 182
    Area - comparative field listing
    twice the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries field listing
    0 km
    Coastline field listing
    188 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    Climate field listing
    subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to November
    Terrain field listing
    mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little flat land
    Elevation field listing
    0 m lowest point: Caribbean Sea
    474 highest point: Crown Mountain
    Natural resources field listing
    pleasant climate, beaches foster tourism
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 11.5% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 2.9% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 2.9% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 5.7% (2011 est.)
    forest: 57.4% (2011 est.)
    other: 31.1% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land field listing
    1 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    while overall population density throughout the islands is relatively low, concentrations appear around Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas and Christiansted on St. Croix
    Natural hazards field listing
    several hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes
    Environment - current issues field listing
    lack of natural freshwater resources; protection of coral reefs; solid waste management; coastal development; increased boating and overfishing
    Geography - note field listing
    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 and Society :: Virgin Islands
  • Population field listing
    106,977 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 192
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Virgin Islander(s) (US citizens)
    adjective: Virgin Islander
    Ethnic groups field listing
    black 76%, white 15.6%, Asian 1.4%, other 4.9%, mixed 2.1% (2010 est.)

    note: 17.4% self-identify as latino

    Languages field listing
    English 71.6%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 17.2%, French or French Creole 8.6%, other 2.5% (2010 est.)
    Religions field listing
    Protestant 59% (Baptist 42%, Episcopalian 17%), Roman Catholic 34%, other 7%
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 20.26% (male 11,102 /female 10,570)
    15-24 years: 10.87% (male 5,665 /female 5,965)
    25-54 years: 36.87% (male 18,454 /female 20,987)
    55-64 years: 13.92% (male 7,039 /female 7,851)
    65 years and over: 18.08% (male 8,802 /female 10,542) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios field listing
    total dependency ratio: 60.8 (2015 est.)
    youth dependency ratio: 32.8 (2015 est.)
    elderly dependency ratio: 28 (2015 est.)
    potential support ratio: 3.6 (2015 est.)
    Median age field listing
    total: 41.3 years
    male: 40.1 years
    female: 42.2 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    Population growth rate field listing
    -0.3% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Birth rate field listing
    12.5 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    Death rate field listing
    8.1 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    Net migration rate field listing
    -7.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 204
    Population distribution field listing
    while overall population density throughout the islands is relatively low, concentrations appear around Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas and Christiansted on St. Croix
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 95.7% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 0.1% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    52,000 CHARLOTTE AMALIE (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 0.82 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 0.82 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 7.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 8.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 6.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 158
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 79.5 years (2018 est.)
    male: 76.3 years (2018 est.)
    female: 83 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 49
    Total fertility rate field listing
    2.06 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 108
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: urban: 100% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 100% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 100% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 0% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 0% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 0% of population (2015 est.)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: urban: 96.4% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 96.4% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 96.4% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 3.6% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 3.6% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 3.6% of population (2015 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    NA
    Major infectious diseases field listing

    note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus

  • Government :: Virgin Islands
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Virgin Islands
    former: Danish West Indies
    abbreviation: VI
    etymology: the myriad islets, cays, and rocks surrounding the major islands reminded Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 of Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgin followers (Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Virgenes), which over time shortened to the Virgins (las Virgenes)
    Dependency status field listing
    unincorporated organized 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 field listing
    presidential democracy; a self-governing territory of the US
    Capital field listing
    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 field listing
    none (territory of the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 3 islands at the second order; Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas
    Independence field listing
    none (territory of the US)
    National holiday field listing
    Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 31 March (1917)
    Constitution field listing
    history: 22 July 1954 - the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands functions as a constitution for this territory of the US (2018)
    amendments: revised 1962, 2000 (2018)
    Citizenship field listing
    see United States
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal; note - island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: President Donald J. TRUMP (since 20 January 2017); Vice President Michael R. PENCE (since 20 January 2017)
    head of government: Governor Kenneth MAPP (since 5 January 2015), Lieutenant Governor Osbert POTTER (since 5 January 2015)
    cabinet: Territorial Cabinet appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate
    elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected on the same ballot by an Electoral College of 'electors' chosen from each state; president and vice president serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); under the US Constitution, residents of 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 directly elected on the same ballot by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 6 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2022)
    election results:

    Albert BRYAN (Democratic Party) 37.9%, incumbent Kenneth MAPP (independent) 33.7%, Adlah Donastorg, Jr. (independent) 16.4%; a runoff will be held 20 November 2018

    Legislative branch field listing
    description: unicameral Senate (15 seats; members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by simple majority popular vote to serve 2-year terms)
    elections: last held on 6 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2020)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 13, independent 2

    note: the Virgin Islands directly elects 1 member by simple majority vote to serve a 2-year term as a delegate to the US House of Representatives; the delegate can vote when serving on a committee and when the House meets as the Committee of the Whole House, but not when legislation is submitted for a “full floor” House vote; election of delegate last held on 6 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2020)

    Judicial branch field listing
    highest courts: Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands (consists of the chief justice and 2 associate justices); note - court established by US Congress in 2004 and assumed appellate jurisdiction in 2007
    judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Virgin Islands Senate; justices initially serve renewable 10-year terms; chief justice elected to position by peers for a 3-year term
    subordinate courts: Superior Court (Territorial Court renamed in 2004); US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (has appellate jurisdiction over the District Court of the Virgin Islands; it is a territorial court and is not associated with a US federal judicial district); District Court of the Virgin Islands
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Democratic Party [Donna M. CHRISTENSEN]
    Independent Citizens' Movement or ICM [Dale BLYDEN]
    Republican Party [John CANEGATA]
    International organization participation field listing
    AOSIS (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, UPU, WFTU (NGOs)
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    none (territory of the US)
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    none (territory of the US)
    Flag description field listing
    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 field listing
    name: Virgin Islands March
    lyrics/music: multiple/Alton Augustus ADAMS, Sr.

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

  • Economy :: Virgin Islands
  • Economy - overview field listing

    Tourism, trade, other services, and rum production are the primary economic activities of the US Virgin Islands (USVI), accounting for most of its GDP and employment. The USVI receives between 2.5 and 3 million tourists a year, mostly from visiting cruise ships. The islands are vulnerable to damage from storms, as evidenced by the destruction from two major hurricanes in 2017. Recovery and rebuilding have continued, but full recovery from these back-to-back hurricanes is years away. The USVI government estimates it will need $7.5 billion, almost twice the territory’s GDP, to rebuild the territory.

    The agriculture sector is small and most food is imported. In 2016, government spending (both federal and territorial together) accounted for about 27% of GDP while exports of goods and services, including spending by tourists, accounted for nearly 47%. Federal programs and grants, including rum tax cover-over totaling $482.3 million in 2016, contributed 32.2% of the territory’s total revenues. The economy picked up 0.9% in 2016 and had appeared to be progressing before the 2017 hurricanes severely damaged the territory’s infrastructure and the economy.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $3.872 billion (2016 est.)
    $3.759 billion (2015 est.)
    $3.622 billion (2014 est.)

    note: data are in 2013 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 181
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $5.182 billion (2016 est.) (2016 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    0.9% (2016 est.)
    0.3% (2015 est.)
    -1% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 185
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $37,000 (2016 est.)
    $35,800 (2015 est.)
    $34,500 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 54
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    household consumption: 68.2% (2016 est.)
    government consumption: 26.8% (2016 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 7.5% (2016 est.)
    investment in inventories: 15% NA (2016 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 46.7% (2016 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -64.3% (2016 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 2% (2012 est.)
    industry: 20% (2012 est.)
    services: 78% (2012 est.)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
    Industries field listing
    tourism, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, electronics
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    NA
    Labor force field listing
    48,550 (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 193
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 80% (2003 est.)
    industry: 19% (2003 est.)
    services: 80% (2003 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    10.4% (2017 est.)
    11% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    Population below poverty line field listing
    28.9% (2002 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: NA
    highest 10%: NA
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 1.496 billion (2016 est.)
    expenditures: 1.518 billion (2016 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    28.9% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    -0.4% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    Public debt field listing
    53.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
    45.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Fiscal year field listing
    1 October - 30 September
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    1% (2016 est.)
    2.6% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 54
    Exports field listing
    $1.81 billion (2016 est.)
    $1.537 billion (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Exports - commodities field listing
    rum
    Imports field listing
    $2.489 billion (2016 est.)
    $1.549 billion (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 156
    Imports - commodities field listing
    foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
    Debt - external field listing

    NA

    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home field listing
    (31 December 2009 est.)
    Exchange rates field listing

    the US dollar is used

  • Energy :: Virgin Islands
  • Electricity access field listing
    population without electricity: 10,295 (2012)
    electrification - total population: 91% (2012)
    electrification - urban areas: 91% (2012)
    electrification - rural areas: 80% (2012)
    Electricity - production field listing
    636.2 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 158
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    117.2 million kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 198
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Electricity - imports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    316,000 kW (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 153
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    13.9% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 196
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 209
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    1.3% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    Crude oil - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    0 bbl (1 January 2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    132,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 74
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    130,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 49
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    9.4 million Mt (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
  • Communications :: Virgin Islands
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 76,000 (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 73 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    Telephone system field listing
    general assessment: modern system with total digital switching, uses fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay (2016)
    domestic: full range of services available (2016)
    international: country code - 1-340; submarine cable connections to US, the Caribbean, Central and South America; satellite earth stations - NA (2016)
    Broadcast media field listing
    about a dozen TV broadcast stations including 1 public TV station; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; 24 radio stations (2009)
    Internet country code field listing
    .vi
    Internet users field listing
    total: 57,000 (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 54.8% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 190
  • Transportation :: Virgin Islands
  • Airports field listing
    2 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 208
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 2 (2013)
    over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    Roadways field listing
    total: 1,260 km (2008)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, Cruz Bay, Frederiksted, Limetree Bay
  • Military and Security :: Virgin Islands
  • Military - note field listing
    defense is the responsibility of the US
  • Transnational Issues :: Virgin Islands
  • Disputes - international field listing
    none