[Country map of Virgin Islands]

Virgin Islands

(territory of the US)


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

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total area: 352 sq km
land area: 349 sq km
comparative area: slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 188 km

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

International disputes: none

Climate: subtropical, tempered by easterly tradewinds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season May to November

Terrain: mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land

Natural resources: sun, sand, sea, surf

Land use:
arable land: 15%
permanent crops: 6%
meadows and pastures: 26%
forest and woodland: 6%
other: 47%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: lack of natural freshwater resources
natural hazards: rarely affected by hurricanes; frequent and severe droughts, floods, and earthquakes
international agreements: NA

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


Population: 97,229 (July 1995 est.)
note: West Indian (45% born in the Virgin Islands and 29% born elsewhere in the West Indies) 74%, US mainland 13%, Puerto Rican 5%, other 8%

Age structure:
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA

Population growth rate: -0.29% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 18.49 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 5.2 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -16.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 12.54 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.29 years
male: 73.6 years
female: 77.2 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.41 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Virgin Islander(s)
adjective: Virgin Islander

Ethnic divisions: black 80%, white 15%, other 5%

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

Languages: English (official), Spanish, Creole

Literacy: NA%

Labor force: 45,500 (1988)
by occupation: tourism 70%


conventional long form: Virgin Islands of the United States
conventional short form: Virgin Islands

Digraph: VQ

Type: organized, unincorporated territory of the US administered by the Office of Territorial and International Affairs, US Department of the Interior

Capital: Charlotte Amalie

Administrative divisions: none (territory of the US)

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

Constitution: Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954

Legal system: based on US

Suffrage: 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 William Jefferson CLINTON (since 20 January 1993); Vice President Albert GORE, Jr. (since 20 January 1993)
head of government: Governor Dr. Roy L. SCHNEIDER (since 5 January 1995); Lieutenant Governor Kenneth E. MAPP (since 5 January 1995); election last held 22 November 1994 (next to be held NA November 1998); results - Dr. Roy L. SCHNEIDER (Independent) 54.7%, former Lieutenant Governor Derek HODGE 42.6%

Legislative branch: unicameral
Senate: elections last held 8 November 1994 (next to be held 5 November 1996); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (15 total) Democrats 7, Independents 7, Republican 1
US House of Representatives: elections last held 8 November 1994 (next to be held 5 November 1996); results - Victor O. FRAZER (Independent) 54.5%, Eileen R. PETERSON (Democrat) 45.5%; seats - (1 total) Independent 1; note - the Virgin Islands elects one representative to the US House of Representatives

Judicial branch:
US District Court: handles civil matters over $50,000, felonies (persons 15 years of age and over), and federal cases
Territorial Court: handles civil matters up to $50,000, small claims, juvenile, domestic, misdemeanors, and traffic cases

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party, Marilyn STAPLETON; Independent Citizens' Movement (ICM), Virdin C. BROWN; Republican Party, Charlotte-Poole DAVIS

Member of: ECLAC (associate), IOC

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

US diplomatic representation: none (territory of the US)

Flag: white with a modified US coat of arms in the center between the large blue initials V and I; the coat of arms shows an 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


Overview: Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for more than 70% of GDP and 70% of employment. The manufacturing sector consists of textile, electronics, pharmaceutical, and watch assembly plants. The agricultural sector is small, most food being imported. International business and financial services are a small but growing component of the economy. One of the world's largest petroleum refineries is at Saint Croix.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $1.2 billion (1987 est.)

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $11,000 (1987)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: 3.7% (1992)

revenues: $364.4 million
expenditures: $364.4 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1990 est.)

Exports: $2.8 billion (f.o.b., 1990)
commodities: refined petroleum products
partners: US, Puerto Rico

Imports: $3.3 billion (c.i.f., 1990)
commodities: crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
partners: US, Puerto Rico

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate 12% (year NA); accounts for NA% of GDP

capacity: 320,000 kW
production: 970 million kWh
consumption per capita: 9,172 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: truck gardens, food crops (small scale), fruit, sorghum, Senepol cattle

Economic aid:
recipient: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $42 million

Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September


Railroads: 0 km

total: 856 km
paved: NA
unpaved: NA

Ports: Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, Cruz Bay, Port Alucroix

Merchant marine: none

total: 2
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
note: international airports on Saint Thomas and Saint Croix


Telephone system: 58,931 telephones; modern telephone system using fiber-optic cable, submarine cable, microwave radio, and satellite facilities
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: NA

broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 8, shortwave 0 (1988)
radios: 98,000

broadcast stations: 4 (1988)
televisions: 63,000

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US