The World Factbook (1990)/Virgin Islands

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Virgin Islands (territory of the US)

See regional map III


Total area: 352 km²; land area: 349 km²

Comparative area: slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 188 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 12 nm
Continental shelf: 200 m
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

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

Environment: rarely affected by hurricanes; subject to frequent severe droughts, floods, earthquakes; lack of natural freshwater resources

Note: important location 1,770 km southeast of Miami and 65 km east of Puerto Rico, along the Anegada Passage—a key shipping lane for the Panama Canal; St. Thomas has one of the best natural, deep-water harbors in the Caribbean


Population: 99,200 (July 1990), growth rate -0.3% (1990)

Birth rate: 22 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -20 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 19 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 70 years male, 76 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.7 children born/woman (1990)

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

Ethnic divisions: 74% West Indian (45% born in the Virgin Islands and 29% born elsewhere in the West Indies), 13% US mainland, 5% Puerto Rican, 8% other; 80% black, 15% white, 5% other; 14% of Hispanic origin

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

Language: English (official), but Spanish and Creole are widely spoken

Literacy: 90%

Labor force: 45,000 (1987)

Organized labor: 90% of the government labor force


Long-form name: Virgin Islands of the United States

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)

Independence: none (territory of the US)

Constitution: Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954 serves as the constitution

Legal system: based on US

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

Executive branch: US president, governor, lieutenant governor

Legislative branch: unicameral Senate

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

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President George BUSH (since 20 January 1989), represented by Governor Alexander FARRELLY (since 5 January 1987); Lieutenant Governor Derek HODGE (since 5 January 1987)

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party, Marilyn Stapleton; Independent Citizens' Movement (ICM), Virdin Brown; Republican Party, Charlotte-Poole Davis

Suffrage: universal at age 18; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens, but do not vote in US presidential elections

Elections: Governor—last held NA 1986 (next to be held NA 1990); results—Alexander Farrelly (Democratic Party) defeated Adelbert Bryan (ICM);

Senate—last held 8 November 1988 (next to be held NA); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(15 total) number of seats by party NA;

US House of Representatives—last held 8 November 1988 (next to be held 6 November 1990); results—the Virgin Islands elects one nonvoting representative

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 with most food imported. International business and financial services are a small but growing component of the economy. The world's largest petroleum refinery is at St. Croix.

GDP: $1.03 billion, per capita $9,030; real growth rate NA% (1985)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: 3.5% (1987)

Budget: revenues $315 million; expenditures $322 million, including capital expenditures of NA (FY88)

Exports: $3.4 billion (f.o.b., 1985); commodities—refined petroleum products; partners—US, Puerto Rico

Imports: $3.7 billion (c.i.f., 1985); commodities—crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials; partners—US, Puerto Rico

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate 12%

Electricity: 341,000 kW capacity; 507 million kWh produced, 4,650 kWh per capita (1989)

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

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

Aid: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $33.5 million

Currency: US currency is used

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October-30 September


Highways: 856 km total

Ports: St. Croix—Christiansted, Frederiksted; St. Thomas—Long Bay, Crown Bay, Red Hook; St. John—Cruz Bay

Airports: 2 total, 2 usable; 2 with permanent-surface runways 1,220-2,439 m; international airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix

Telecommunications: 44,280 telephones; stations—4 AM, 6 FM, 3 TV; modern system using fiber optic cable, submarine cable, microwave radio, and satellite facilities; 90,000 radio receivers; 56,000 television sets

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US