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Central America and Caribbean :: Virgin Islands
(territory of the US)
Page last updated on June 24, 2015
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Virgin Islands
  • Introduction :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • 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.
  • Geography :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
    18 20 N, 64 50 W
    Central America and the Caribbean
    total: 1,910 sq km
    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 474 m
    sun, sand, sea, surf
    agricultural land: 11.5%
    arable land 2.9%; permanent crops 2.9%; permanent pasture 5.7%
    forest: 57.4%
    other: 31.1% (2011 est.)
    1 sq km (2011)
    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 and Society :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • noun: Virgin Islander(s) (US citizens)
    adjective: Virgin Islander
    black 76%, white 15.6%, Asian 1.4%, other 4.9%, mixed 2.1%
    note: 17.4% self-identify as latino (2010 est.)
    English 71.6%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 17.2%, French or French Creole 8.6%, other 2.5% (2010 est.)
    Protestant 59% (Baptist 42%, Episcopalian 17%), Roman Catholic 34%, other 7%
    104,170 (July 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 17.8% (male 9,386/female 9,207)
    15-24 years: 10.3% (male 4,931/female 5,801)
    25-54 years: 39% (male 18,350/female 22,231)
    55-64 years: 14.3% (male 7,123/female 7,796)
    65 years and over: 18.6% (male 8,758/female 10,587) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 60.2%
    youth dependency ratio: 33.3%
    elderly dependency ratio: 26.9%
    potential support ratio: 3.7% (2014 est.)
    total: 44.2 years
    male: 44.5 years
    female: 44 years (2014 est.)
    -0.56% (2014 est.)
    10.49 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    8.24 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    -7.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 95.2% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 0.25% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    CHARLOTTE AMALIE (capital) 52,000 (2014)
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 0.85 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.83 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.88 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    total: 6.79 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 7.5 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 6.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 79.75 years
    male: 76.7 years
    female: 82.97 years (2014 est.)
    1.75 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    urban: 100% of population
    rural: 100% of population
    total: 100% of population
    urban: 0% of population
    rural: 0% of population
    total: 0% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 96.4% of population
    rural: 96.4% of population
    total: 96.4% of population
    urban: 3.6% of population
    rural: 3.6% of population
    total: 3.6% of population (2012 est.)
  • 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
    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 3 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)
    22 July 1954 - the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands functions as a constitution for this territory of the US (2013)
    US common law
    18 years of age; universal; note - 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 Kenneth MAPP (since 5 January 2015)
    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 on 4 November 2014, runoff election to be held 18 November 2014 (next to be held in November 2018)
    election results: percent of vote - Kenneth MAPP 62.7%, Donna CHRISTENSEN 37%
    description: unicameral Senate (15 seats; members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 2-year terms)
    elections: last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held on November 2016)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA
    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 4 November 2014 (next to be held on November 2016)
    highest court(s): 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 (renamed in 2004 vice the Territorial Court); 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
    Democratic Party [Arturo WATLINGTON]
    Independent Citizens' Movement or ICM [Usie RICHARDS]
    Republican Party [Gary SPRAUVE]
    AOSIS (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, UPU, WFTU (NGOs)
    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 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
    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

  • Tourism, trade, and other services are the primary economic activities, accounting for nearly 60% of the Virgin Island's GDP and about half of total civilian employment. The islands host nearly 3 million tourists per year, mostly from visiting cruise ships. The agriculture sector is small, with most food being imported. The islands are vulnerable to damage from storms. Industry and government each account for about one-fifth of GDP. Federal programs and grants, totaling $241.4 million in 2013, contributed 19.7% of the territory’s total revenues. The manufacturing sector consists of rum distilling, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. A refinery on St. Croix, one of the world’s largest, processed 350,000 barrels of crude oil a day until it was shut down in February 2012, after 45 years of operations. The economy declined in 2013, due to decreases in exports resulting from the loss of refined oil products. Nevertheless, the economy remains relatively diversified. Along with a vibrant tourism industry, rum exports, trade, and services will be major income sources in future years.
    $3.792 billion (2013 est.)
    $4.143 billion (2012)
    $4.288 billion (2011)
    $5.075 billion (2013)
    -5.4% (2013 est.)
    -13.8% (2012)
    -7.5% (2011)
    $36,100 (2013 est.)
    $39,300 (2012)
    $40,500 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 46
    household consumption: 63.6%
    government consumption: 28%
    investment in fixed assets: 6.1%
    exports of goods and services: 69.3%
    imports of goods and services: -66.9% (2013)
    agriculture: 2%
    industry: 20%
    services: 78% (2012 est.)
    fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
    tourism, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, electronics
    50,580 (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 1%
    industry: 19%
    services: 80% (2003 est.)
    13% (2014)
    28.9% (2002)
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $1.223 billion
    expenditures: $1.551 billion (2013)
    24.1% of GDP (2013)
    45.9% of GDP (2014)
    1 October - 30 September
    3.1% (2012)
    $2.627 billion (2013)
    $3.339 billion (2012)
    $2.694 billion (2013)
    $3.056 billion (2012)
    foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
    the US dollar is used
  • Energy :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • 707 million kWh (2012 est.)
    739.6 million kWh (2011 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    323,000 kW (2011 est.)
    100% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    402,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 bbl (1 January 2014 est.)
    423,900 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    62,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    316,100 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    5,732 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    12.41 million Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • 75,800 (2010)
    80,300 (2005)
    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 (2010)
    about a dozen TV broadcast stations including 1 public TV station; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; 24 radio stations (2009)
    AM 6, FM 16, shortwave 0 (2005)
    5 (2006)
    4,790 (2012)
    30,000 (2009)
  • Transportation :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • 2 (2013)
    total: 2
    over 3,047 m: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 1,260 km (2008)
    major seaport(s): Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, Cruz Bay, Frederiksted, Limetree Bay
  • Military :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • males age 16-49: 17,542
    females age 16-49: 20,946 (2010 est.)
    male: 744
    female: 788 (2010 est.)
    defense is the responsibility of the US
  • Transnational Issues :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • none