US VIRGIN ISLANDS
 

Motto:

United in Pride and Hope

Background:

 

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

 

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: 1,910 sq km
land: 346 sq km
water: 1,564 sq km
Land Boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 188 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: Subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September 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 475 m
Natural Resources: sun, sand, sea, surf
Land use: arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 2.86%
other: 91.43% (2005)
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 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:

109,825 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.4% (male 11,394/female 11,048)
15-64 years: 65.9% (male 33,843/female 38,574)
65 years and over: 13.6% (male 6,747/female 8,219) (2009 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.029% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 11.95 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate: 6.75 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 95% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 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 (2009 est.)
Nationality: Virgin Islander(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Virgin Islander
Ethnic groups: black 76.2%, white 13.1%, Asian 1.1%, other 6.1%, mixed 3.5% (2000 census)
Religions:

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

Languages: English 74.7%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 16.8%, French or French Creole 6.6%, other 1.9% (2000 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90-95% est.
male: NA
female: NA (2005 est.)

Government

Country name: conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form: Virgin Islands
former: Danish West Indies
abbreviation: USVI
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
Capital: name: Charlotte Amalie
geographic coordinates: 18 21 N, 64 56 W
National holiday: Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 31 March (1917)
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
Constitution: Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954
Legal system: Based on US Laws
Suffrage: 18 Years of age; universal. Island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
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%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)

elections: last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2010)

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 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2010)
 
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)
Political parties and leaders:

Democratic Party [Arturo WATLINGTON]; Independent Citizens' Movement or ICM [Usie RICHARDS]; Republican Party [Gary SPRAUVE]

International organization participation: IOC, UPU, WFTU
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territory of the US)
Diplomatic representation from the US: None (territory of the US)
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


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.
GDP (Purchasing power parity PPP): $1.577 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2% (2002)
GDP per capita (PPP) $14,500 (2004 est)
Labor force: 49,820 (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate: 6.2% (2002)
Budget: revenues: $837 million
expenditures: $837 million (FY08/09)
Industries:  tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Agriculture - products: fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
Exports: $4.234 billion (2001)
Exports - commodities: refined petroleum products
 
Imports: $4.609 billion (2001)
Imports - commodities: crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
 
Debt - external: $NA
Exchange rates: the US dollar is used
Business Hours: Business: 8:00am-5:00pm Monday to Friday

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 74,200 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 80,300 (2005)
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
Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 16, shortwave 0 (2005)
Television broadcast stations: Television 5 (2006)
Internet country code: .vi
Internet hosts: 8,726 (2009)
Internet users: 30,000 (2008)

Transportation

Airports: 2 (2009)
Highways: Total: 1,257 km (2007)
Ports and harbors: Charlotte Amalie, Limetree Bay

Military defense is the responsibility of the US
  Main Source of above Information: the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook

Items of Interest  
National Anthem Virgin Islands March

All hail our Virgin Islands.
Em'ralds of the sea,
Where beaches bright with coral sand
And trade winds bless our native land.
All hail our Virgin Islands,
Bathed in waters blue,
We give our loyalty,
Full to thee,
And pledge allegiance forever true.

To thee our Virgin Islands,
Loving voices raise
A song in praise of brotherhood,
Where right makes might to fight for good.
To thee our Virgin Islands,
Haven of the free,
We sing our love to thee,
Joyously,
Our own fair islands of liberty.

March on oh Virgin Islands,
In the joyful throng,
Uphold the right and right the wrong
Where only peace and love belong.
March on oh Virgin Islands,
Democratic land.
Together hand in hand,
Take your stand,
Forever soldiers in freedom's band.

God bless our Virgin Islands,
Humbly now we pray,
Where all mankind can join today
In friendly warmth of work and play.
God bless our Virgin Islands,
Beautiful and tall.
Beneath a sunny sky,
Hilltops high
Hold out a welcome for one and all.

Words by:  Public contribution
Music by: Alton Augustus Adams, Sr.

Favourite local Cuisine: Fish and Fungi (a smooth cornmeal mush to which okra is sometimes added)