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Central America and Caribbean :: Virgin Islands
(territory of the US)
Page last updated on April 09, 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
    country comparison to the world: 182
    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
    arable land: 2.86%
    permanent crops: 2.86%
    other: 94.29% (2012 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.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
    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.)
    country comparison to the world: 224
    10.49 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 184
    8.24 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    -7.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    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.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    total population: 79.75 years
    male: 76.7 years
    female: 82.97 years (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    1.75 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 165
    improved:
    urban: 100% of population
    rural: 100% of population
    total: 100% of population
    unimproved:
    urban: 0% of population
    rural: 0% of population
    total: 0% of population (2012 est.)
    improved:
    urban: 96.4% of population
    rural: 96.4% of population
    total: 96.4% of population
    unimproved:
    urban: 3.6% of population
    rural: 3.6% of population
    total: 3.6% of population (2012 est.)
    NA
    NA
    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)
    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]
    NA
    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 roughly 57% of GDP and about half of total civilian employment in 2010. The islands hosted nearly 2.74 million visitors - 2.2 million cruise ship and 536,000 air passengers - in 2011. Industry and government each account for about one-fifth of GDP. The manufacturing sector consists of rum distilling, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. The agriculture sector is small, with most food being imported. The islands are vulnerable to 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: 197
    $NA
    2% (2002 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    $14,500 (2004 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    agriculture: 1%
    industry: 19%
    services: 80% (2003 est.)
    fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
    tourism, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, electronics
    NA%
    49,820 (2007 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 193
    agriculture: 1%
    industry: 19%
    services: 80% (2003 est.)
    6.2% (2004)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    28.9% (2002)
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $837 million
    expenditures: $837 million (FY08/09)
    NA%
    NA%
    1 October - 30 September
    2.2% (2003)
    $4.234 billion (2001)
    country comparison to the world: 119
    refined petroleum products
    $4.609 billion (2001)
    country comparison to the world: 136
    crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
    $NA
    the US dollar is used
  • Energy :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • 794 million kWh (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    738.4 million kWh (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    323,000 kW (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 151
    100% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 39
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 203
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 208
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 139
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 141
    0 bbl (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 205
    423,900 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 37
    62,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 93
    316,100 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 22
    5,732 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 206
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 206
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 205
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 206
    12.41 million Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • 75,800 (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 151
    80,300 (2005)
    country comparison to the world: 197
    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)
    .vi
    4,790 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    30,000 (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 177
  • Transportation :: VIRGIN ISLANDS

  • 2 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    total: 2
    over 3,047 m: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 1,260 km (2008)
    country comparison to the world: 181
    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
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