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  • [Country flag of Virgin Islands]

    Virgin Islands

    [Country map of Virgin Islands]

    (territory of the US)

    Geography

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

    Geographic coordinates: 18 20 N, 64 50 W

    Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

    Area:
    total: 352 sq km
    land: 349 sq km
    water: 3 sq km

    Area - comparative: twice the size of Washington, DC

    Land boundaries: 0 km

    Coastline: 188 km

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

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

    Terrain: 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%
    permanent pastures : 26%
    forests and woodland: 6%
    other: 47% (1993 est.)

    Irrigated land: NA sq km

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

    Environment - current issues: lack of natural freshwater resources

    Environment - international agreements:
    party to: NA
    signed, but not ratified : NA

    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

    People

    Population: 97,240 (July 1997 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: 0.18% (1997 est.)

    Birth rate: 16.72 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Death rate: 5.2 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Net migration rate: -9.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Sex ratio:
    at birth : NA male(s)/female
    under 15 years: NA male(s)/female
    15-64 years: NA male(s)/female
    65 years and over: NA male(s)/female
    total population: NA male(s)/female

    Infant mortality rate: 12.54 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 75.29 years
    male: 73.6 years
    female: 77.2 years (1997 est.)

    Total fertility rate: 2.18 children born/woman (1997 est.)

    Nationality:
    noun : Virgin Islander(s)
    adjective: Virgin Islander

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

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

    Languages: English (official), Spanish, Creole

    Literacy: NA

    Government

    Country name:
    conventional long form : Virgin Islands of the United States
    conventional short form: Virgin Islands
    former: Danish West Indies

    Data code: VQ

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

    Government type: NA

    National 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 laws

    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 of the US 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) and Lieutenant Governor Kenneth E. MAPP (since 5 January 1995)
    cabinet: NA
    elections : governor and lieutenant governor of the Virgin Islands elected by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 22 November 1994 (next to be held NA November 1998)
    election results: Dr. Roy L. SCHNEIDER elected governor of the Virgin Islands; percent of vote - Roy L. SCHNEIDER (ICM) 54.7%, former Lieutenant Governor Derek HODGE 42.6%

    Legislative branch: unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
    elections: last held 5 November 1996 (next to be held NA November 1998)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independents 6, Democrats 5, Republicans 2, Independent Citizens Movement 2
    note: the Virgin Islands elects one representative to the US House of Representatives; elections last held 19 November 1996 (next to be held NA November 1998); results - Dr. Donna GREEN (ICM) 51.5%, Victor O. FRAZER (independent) 48.5%

    Judicial branch: US District Court, handles civil matters over $200,000, felonies (persons 15 years of age and over), and federal cases; judges are appointed by the president; Territorial Court, handles civil matters of unlimited cash amount; felonies, small claims, juvenile, domestic, misdemeanors, and traffic cases; judges appointed by the governor

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

    International organization participation: ECLAC (associate), IOC

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

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

    Flag description: white 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

    Economy

    Economy - overview: Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for more than 70% of GDP and 70% of employment. The number of US tourists in the first five months of 1996 was down by 55% from the same period in 1995, the lingering result of the fierce hurricanes of 1995. Unemployment rose sharply in 1996. 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. A major economic problem at the beginning of 1997 was the more than $1 billion in governmental arrears, in income tax refunds, payments to vendors, and overdue wages.

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

    GDP - real growth rate: NA%

    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $12,500 (1987 est.)

    GDP - composition by sector:
    agriculture: NA%
    industry: NA%
    services : NA%

    Inflation rate - consumer price index: NA%

    Labor force:
    total: 47,443 (1990 est.)
    by occupation: agriculture, industry, services, other (1990 est.)

    Unemployment rate: 6.2% (March 1994)

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

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

    Industrial production growth rate: 12% (year NA)

    Electricity - capacity: NA kW

    Electricity - production: 990 million kWh (1994)

    Electricity - consumption per capita: 9,565 kWh (1995 est.)

    Agriculture - products: truck garden products, fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle

    Exports:
    total value: $1.8 billion (f.o.b., 1992)
    commodities : refined petroleum products
    partners: US, Puerto Rico

    Imports:
    total value: $2.2 billion (c.i.f., 1992)
    commodities: crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
    partners: US, Puerto Rico

    Debt - external: $NA

    Economic aid: $NA

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

    Exchange rates: US currency is used

    Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September

    Communications

    Telephones: 60,000 (1990 est.)

    Telephone system:
    domestic : modern, uses fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay
    international: submarine cable and satellite communications; satellite earth stations - NA

    Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 8, shortwave 0 (1988)

    Radios: 105,000 (1992 est.)

    Television broadcast stations: 4 (1988 est.)

    Televisions: 65,000 (1992 est.)

    Transportation

    Railways: 0 km

    Highways:
    total : 856 km
    paved: NA km
    unpaved : NA km

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

    Merchant marine: none

    Airports: 2
    note: international airports on Saint Thomas and Saint Croix (1996 est.)

    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 2
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

    Military

    Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the US

    Transnational Issues

    Disputes - international: none