Insular Area Summary for the U.S. Virgin Islands

History & Political Status

The Caribbean island chain known as the Virgin Islands was divided into two parts in the 17th century, one English and the other Danish.  The Danish part had been in economic decline for quite some time, owing to losses in sugarcane production after slavery was abolished in 1848.  In 1917, the United States purchased the Danish part for $25 million, mainly for strategic reasons to assure tranquility in the Caribbean Ocean.  U.S. citizenship was conferred on U.S. Virgin Islanders in 1927.  Federal authority over the new U.S. territory was placed in the Department of the Interior in 1931, where it resides.  The Organic Act of 1936 laid the foundation for self-government and a more elaborate governmental structure emerged from the revised Organic Act of 1954.  The first elections for constitutional officers were held in 1970.

Elected Leaders

Governor: Kenneth E Mapp
Lt. Governor: Osbert E Potter
President of the Legislature: Neville James
Delegate to the House of Representatives:
Stacey Plaskett

Distances from places

New York City: 1,650 miles
Miami: 600 miles

Population & Demography

Total population: 106,405 (2010)
Black: 76.2% (2000 census)
White: 13.1%
Other: 6.1%
Mixed: 3.5%
Asian: 1.1%
Median age: 38.5 years
U.S. median age: 36.7 years

Economy & Income Sources

GDP: $3.792 billion (BEA 2013)
Per capita GDP: $37,864 (BEA 2013)
U.S. per capita GDP: $54,630 (BEA 2013) 

Total visitor count: 2.6 million (2010)
Cruise ship visitors: 2.0 million
Overnight visitors: 589,800
No. of cruise ships visiting: 680
Total visitor expenditures: $1.0 billion
Employment in tourism services: 8,316
Hotel room count: 5,008
Hotel room count, St. Thomas: 3,799
Hotel room count, St. Croix: 1,209

Rum production
Rum import taxes turned over to USVI:
Approximately $200 million annually

Wholesale and retail trade
Hotels and restaurants
Tourist and recreational services
Government services
Other services

Labor Force & Employment

Non-agricultural wage & salary jobs: 44,106
Private sector jobs: 31,029
USVI government jobs: 12,116
Federal Government jobs: 962
Unemployment rate: 7.5%
Annual gross pay: $38,000

Government Finances

Total revenues: $952.7 million (FY 09)
Total spending: $1,428.1 million (FY 09)
Total Federal grants: $227.5 million (FY 09)

OIA Contacts

Basil Ottley
Desk Officer for the U.S. Virgin Islands
Office of Insular Affairs
Washington, DC 20240
(202) 208-5655

U.S.VI Leadership

T.H. Kenneth E. Mapp
Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands

Office of the Governor
Government House
21-22 Kongens Gade
Charlotte Amalie
St. Thomas, VI 00802

1 (340) 774-0001
1 (340) 693-4309 Fax

T.H. Stacey Plaskett
U.S. Representative

U.S. House of Representatives
509 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-5501

(202) 225-1790
(202) 225-5517 Fax

Former House Representatives

Former Governors