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  Introduction Back To Top

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 Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to November

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

Geographic coordinates:
18 20 N, 64 50 W

Natural resources:
sun, sand, sea, surf

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Crown Mountain 475 m

mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land

Geography - note:
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

total: 1,910 sq km
land: 346 sq km
water: 1,564 sq km

Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico

188 km

Area - comparative:
twice the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:
lack of natural freshwater resources

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
several hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes

Land use:
arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 2.86%
other: 91.43% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.88 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
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 (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.92 years
male: 75.9 years
female: 82.11 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90-95% est.
male: NA%
female: NA% (2005 est.)

Net migration rate:
-5.72 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
black 76.2%, white 13.1%, Asian 1.1%, other 6.1%, mixed 3.5% (2000 census)

Median age:
total: 38.5 years
male: 38 years
female: 39 years (2008 est.)

109,840 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:

Population growth rate:
0.002% (2008 est.)

English 74.7%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 16.8%, French or French Creole 6.6%, other 1.9% (2000 census)

Death rate:
6.55 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.43 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Age structure:
0-14 years: 21% (male 11,698/female 11,390)
15-64 years: 66.2% (male 34,035/female 38,670)
65 years and over: 12.8% (male 6,312/female 7,735) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
12.29 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Baptist 42%, Roman Catholic 34%, Episcopalian 17%, other 7%

noun: Virgin Islander(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Virgin Islander

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (territory of the US)

National holiday:
Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 31 March (1917)

18 years of age; universal; island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (territory of the US)

Dependency status:
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

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 8, ICM 4, independent 3
note: the Virgin Islands elects one non-voting representative to the US House of Representatives; election last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held November 2008)

Legal system:
based on US laws

Flag description:
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

none (territory of the US)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form: Virgin Islands
former: Danish West Indies
abbreviation: USVI

Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party [Arturo WATLINGTON]; Independent Citizens' Movement or ICM [Usie RICHARDS]; Republican Party [Gary SPRAUVE]

name: Charlotte Amalie
geographic coordinates: 18 21 N, 64 56 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954

Executive branch:
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%

Administrative divisions:
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

Judicial branch:
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)

  Economy Back To Top

Electricity - consumption:
892.8 million kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Debt - external:

Unemployment rate:
6.2% (2004)

Oil - exports:
398,500 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$14,500 (2004 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$1.577 billion (2004 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used

GDP - real growth rate:
2% (2002 est.)

Labor force:
43,980 (2004 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.2% (2003)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)

Oil - imports:
492,300 bbl/day (2005)

$4.234 billion (2001)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
US dollar (USD)

Economy - overview:
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.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials

tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
28.9% (2002)

Electricity - production:
960 million kWh (2006 est.)

$4.609 billion (2001)

Oil - proved reserves:

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Oil - consumption:
91,680 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
refined petroleum products

Economic aid - recipient:

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA

Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September

Oil - production:
17,620 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
30,000 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
71,700 (2005)

68,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 6, FM 16, shortwave 0 (2005)

107,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
80,300 (2005)

Television broadcast stations:
5 (2006)

Telephone system:
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

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
50 (2000)

Internet hosts:
4,610 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:
Charlotte Amalie, Limetree Bay

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)

total: 1,257 km (2007)

2 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the US

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 861
female: 897 (2008 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

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