About the U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands consists of 4 main islands: St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island, and some 50 smaller islets and cays. The total area of the USVI is 133 square miles. The Virgin Islands are 40-50 miles east of Puerto Rico; and about 1106 miles southeast Miami, Florida.
The United States Virgin Islands is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. With about 106,000 residents (2010 U.S. Census), the Virgin Islands has a smaller population than any U.S. state. The territory has about one-fifth the population—and twice the land area—of Washington, D.C. The Virgin Islands includes 68 separate islands and cays, but everyone is categorized as living on one of three main islands—St. Thomas, St. Croix, or St. John. The U.S. Census Bureau treats the three main islands as the statistical equivalents of counties, and considers the fourth island, Water Island, to be a subdivision of St. Thomas.
Of the three main islands, St. Croix is the largest in size (84 square miles) and second largest in
population (50,601). St. Thomas has a slightly larger population (51,634) in less than half the land area. St. John is the smallest of the islands, and with the majority of its land area covered by national park land, is also the least populated (4,170).
The USVI has a diverse population with a wide range of racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds. About 76 percent of Virgin Islanders identified themselves as black in the 2010 Census. Sixteen percent said they were white, 6 percent reported some other single racial group, and 2 percent identified with two or more races. In a separate question on Hispanic origin, about 17 percent of the population in the U.S. Virgin Islands identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino.
Tourism is the primary source of income and employment in the Virgin Islands, making up 80 percent of GDP, followed by manufacturing. Despite rising incomes, Virgin Islands residents continue to lag behind the nation on many economic indicators. Lower-income families in the Virgin Islands are doubly disadvantaged because of the high cost of living in the territory. The high cost of housing, in particular, leaves little money left for savings or emergencies.
The people of the U.S. Virgin Islands elect a governor and lieutenant governor every four years and elect 15 senators to the Virgin Islands legislature and one non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives every two years. Residents of the Virgin Islands are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in presidential elections.
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