Virgin Islands

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Virgin Islands
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Virgin Islands
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Map of Virgin Islands
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Photos of Virgin Islands
 
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OF VIRGIN ISLANDS
 

Introduction

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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.
 
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Geography

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Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
 
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18 20 N, 64 50 W
 
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total: 1,910 sq km
country comparison to the world: 182
land: 346 sq km
water: 1,564 sq km
 
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twice the size of Washington, DC
 
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0 km
 
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188 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
 
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subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to November
 
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mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land
 
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lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Crown Mountain 474 m
 
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sun, sand, sea, surf
 
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arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 2.86%
other: 91.43% (2005)
 
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1 sq km (2008)
 
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several hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes
 
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lack of natural freshwater resources
 
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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
 
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People and Society

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noun: Virgin Islander(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Virgin Islander
 
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black 76.2%, white 13.1%, Asian 1.1%, other 6.1%, mixed 3.5% (2000 census)
 
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English 74.7%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 16.8%, French or French Creole 6.6%, other 1.9% (2000 census)
 
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Protestant 59% (Baptist 42%, Episcopalian 17%), Roman Catholic 34%, other 7%
 
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109,666 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 189
 
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0-14 years: 19.5% (male 10,886/female 10,470)
15-64 years: 65.2% (male 33,280/female 38,210)
65 years and over: 15.3% (male 7,626/female 9,194) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 40.4 years
male: 39.9 years
female: 40.8 years (2011 est.)
 
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-0.08% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
 
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11.41 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
 
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7.17 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
 
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-5.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
 
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urban population: 95% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: -0.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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CHARLOTTE AMALIE (capital) 54,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.058 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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total: 7.24 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 165
male: 7.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 79.33 years
country comparison to the world: 38
male: 76.29 years
female: 82.55 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.8 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90-95% est.
male: NA
female: NA (2005 est.)
 
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NA
 
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Government

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conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form: Virgin Islands
former: Danish West Indies
abbreviation: USVI
 
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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
 
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NA
 
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name: Charlotte Amalie
geographic coordinates: 18 21 N, 64 56 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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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
 
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none (territory of the US)
 
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Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 31 March (1917)
 
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Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954
 
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US common law
 
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18 years of age; universal; island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
 
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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
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
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 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2014)
election results: John DeJONGH reelected governor; percent of vote - John DeJONGH 56.3%, Kenneth MAPP 43.6%
 
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unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: last held on 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 10, ICM 2, independent 3
note: the Virgin Islands elects one non-voting representative to the US House of Representatives; election last held 2 November 2010 (next to be held on November 2012)
 
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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)
 
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Democratic Party [Arturo WATLINGTON]; Independent Citizens' Movement or ICM [Usie RICHARDS]; Republican Party [Gary SPRAUVE]
 
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NA
 
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IOC, UPU, WFTU
 
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none (territory of the US)
 
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none (territory of the US)
 
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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
 
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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)
 
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Economy

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Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for 80% of GDP and employment. The islands hosted 2.4 million visitors in 2008. 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.
 
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$1.577 billion (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
 
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$NA
 
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2% (2002 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
 
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$14,500 (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
 
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agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)
 
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49,820 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 190
 
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agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)
 
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6.2% (2004)
country comparison to the world: 58
 
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28.9% (2002)
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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revenues: $837 million
expenditures: $837 million (FY08/09)
 
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2.2% (2003)
country comparison to the world: 70
 
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fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
 
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tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics
 
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NA%
 
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843.6 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
 
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784.5 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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17,440 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
 
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85,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
 
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380,800 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
 
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442,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
 
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$4.234 billion (2001)
country comparison to the world: 116
 
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refined petroleum products
 
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$4.609 billion (2001)
country comparison to the world: 120
 
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crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
 
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$NA
 
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the US dollar is used
 
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Communications

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75,800 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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80,300 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 195
 
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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
 
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about a dozen television broadcast stations including 1 public TV station; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; 24 radio stations broadcasting (2009)
 
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.vi
 
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8,933 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 129
 
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30,000 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 181
 
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Transportation

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2 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 207
 
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total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 1,260 km (2008)
country comparison to the world: 179
 
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Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, Cruz Bay, Frederiksted, Limetree Bay
 
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Military

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

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none
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