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.

Distances from places

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

Population & Demography

Total population: 103,700 (2015)
Black or African American: 76.0 % (2010 census)
White: 15.6%
Other: 6.2%
Mixed: 2.1%
Median age: 39.2 years
U.S. median age: 36.7 years

Economy & Income Sources

GDP: $3.765 billion (BEA 2015)
Per capita GDP: $36,307
U.S. per capita GDP: $56,276

Total visitor count: 2.6 million (2015)
Cruise ship visitors: 2.1 million
Overnight visitors: 641,600
No. of cruise ships visiting: 609
Total visitor expenditures: $1.3 billion
Employment in tourism services: 8,159
Hotel & other room count: 5,060
Hotel & other room count, St. Thomas & St. John: 3,842
Hotel room count, St. Croix: 1,217

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

Labor Force & Employment (2015)

Non-agricultural wage & salary jobs: 37,704
Private sector jobs: 26,943
USVI government jobs: 9,891
Federal Government jobs: 960
Unemployment rate: 12.0%

Government Finances

Total revenues: $1.204 billion (FY 2015)
Total spending: $1,547 billion
Total Federal grants: $425.2 million
Rum import taxes turned over to USVI: $194.3 million

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

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

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