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Introduction Virgin Islands
During 17th century, archipelago previously divided into two territorial units, one English and other Danish. Sugarcane, produced by slave labor, drove islands' economy during 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1917, US purchased Danish portion, which had been in economic decline since abolition of slavery in 1848.
Geography Virgin Islands
Caribbean, islands between Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates:
18 20 N, 64 50 W
Map references:
Central America and Caribbean
total: 352 sq km
water: 3 sq km
land: 349 sq km
Area - comparative:
twice size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
188 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season May to November
mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Crown Mountain 474 m
Natural resources:
sun, sand, sea, surf
Land use:
arable land: 15%
permanent crops: 6%
other: 79% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
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 Anegada Passage - a key shipping lane for Panama Canal; Saint Thomas has one of best natural deepwater harbors in Caribbean
People Virgin Islands
Total Population:
124,778 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26% (male 16,685; female 15,794)
15-64 years: 64.4% (male 36,241; female 44,157)
65 years and over: 9.5% (male 5,078; female 6,823) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 31.2 years
male: 28.6 years
female: 33.7 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
1.02% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
15.8 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
5.68 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.82 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
Population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 10.12 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 78.59 years
male: 74.73 years
female: 82.68 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.22 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Virgin Islander(s)
adjective: Virgin Islander
Ethnic groups:
black 78%, white 10%, other 12%
note: West Indian 81% (49% born in Virgin Islands and 32% born elsewhere in West Indies), US mainland 13%, Puerto Rican 4%, other 2%
Baptist 42%, Roman Catholic 34%, Episcopalian 17%, other 7%
English (official), Spanish, Creole
definition: NA
Population: NA%
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government Virgin Islands
Country name:
conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form: Virgin Islands
former: Danish West Indies
Dependency status:
organized, unincorporated territory of US with policy relations between Virgin Islands and US under jurisdiction of Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of Interior
Government type:
Charlotte Amalie
Administrative divisions:
none (territory of US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by US Government, but there are three islands at second order; Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas
National holiday:
Transfer Day (from Denmark to US), 27 March (1917)
Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954
Legal system:
based on US laws
18 years of age; universal; note - indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch:
chief of state: President George W. BUSH of US (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (Since 20 January 2001)
election results: Dr. Charles Wesley TURNBULL reelected governor; percent of vote - Dr. Charles Wesley TURNBULL (Democrat) 50.5%, John de JONGH 24.4%
elections: US president and vice president elected on same ticket for four-year terms; governor and lieutenant governor elected on same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 5 November 2002 (next to be held NA November 2006)
head of government: Governor Dr. Charles Wesley TURNBULL (since 5 January 1999) and Lieutenant Governor Vargrave RICHARDS (since NA January 2003)
cabinet: NA
Legislative branch:
unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: last held 6 November 2002 (next to be held NA November 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Democratic Party 8, ICM NA, no party affiliation NA
note: Virgin Islands elects one non-voting representative to US House of Representatives; election last held 6 November 2002 (next to be held NA November 2004); results - Donna M. CHRISTIAN-CHRISTENSON (Democrat) reelected
Judicial branch:
US District Court of Virgin Islands (under Third Circuit jurisdiction); Territorial Court (judges appointed by 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:
ECLAC (associate), Interpol (subbureau), IOC
Diplomatic representation in US:
none (territory of US)
Diplomatic representation from US:
none (territory of US)
Flag description:
white, with a modified US coat of arms in center between large blue initials V and I; coat of arms shows a yellow eagle holding an olive branch in one talon and three arrows in other with a superimposed shield of vertical red and white stripes below a blue panel
Economy Virgin Islands
Economy - overview:
Tourism is primary economic activity, accounting for more than 70% of GDP and 70% of employment. islands normally host 2 million visitors a year. manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, textiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. agricultural sector is limited , with most food being imported. International business and financial services are a limited but growing component of economy. One of world's largest petroleum refineries is at Saint Croix. islands are subject to substantial damage from storms. government is working to improve fiscal discipline, support construction projects in private sector, expand tourist facilities, reduce crime, and protect environment.
buying power parity - $2.4 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $19,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2% (1992)
Labor force:
49,000 (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 1%, industry 20%, services 79% (1990 est.)
Unemployment rate:
4.9% (March 1999)
revenues: $364.4 million
expenditures: $364.4 million, includes capital expenditures of $NA (1990 est.)
tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
1.03 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
957.9 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
66,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
Exports - commodities:
refined petroleum products
Exports - partners:
US, Puerto Rico
Imports - commodities:
crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
Imports - partners:
US, Puerto Rico
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
US dollar (USD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
US dollar is used
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Communications Virgin Islands
Telephones - main lines in use:
65,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
2,000 (1992)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: modern, uses fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay
international: submarine cable and satellite communications; satellite earth stations - NA
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 5, FM 11, shortwave 0 (2002)
107,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (2002)
68,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
50 (2000)
Internet users:
12,000 (2000)
Transportation Virgin Islands
0 km
total: 856 km
paved: NA km
note: only US possession where driving on left side of road is practiced (2000)
unpaved: NA km
Ports and harbors:
Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, Cruz Bay, Port Alucroix
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
2 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2002)
Military Virgin Islands
Military - note:
defense is responsibility of US
Transnational Issues Virgin Islands
Disputes - international: