Geographic and Governmental Profile of Virgin Islands

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.
Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates
18 20 N, 64 50 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Central America and the Caribbean
1,910 sq km
346 sq km
1,564 sq km
Area - comparative
twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
0 km
188 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to November
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:
permanent crops:
91.43% (2005)
Get Chart Code
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Irrigated land
1 sq km
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
Country name
conventional long form:
United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form:
Virgin Islands
Danish West Indies
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
Government type
Charlotte Amalie
geographic coordinates:
18 21 N, 64 56 W
time difference:
UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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
none (territory of the US)
National holiday
Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 31 March (1917)
Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954
Legal system
US common law
18 years of age; universal; note - 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)
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%
Legislative branch
unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
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
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)
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]
Political pressure groups and leaders
International organization participation
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 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
National anthem
"Virgin Islands March"
multiple/Alton Augustus ADAMS, Sr.
adopted 1963; serves as a local anthem; as a territory of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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