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Virgin Islands:
Geography

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Virgin Islands Page


Other pages in this profile of the Virgin Islands:
People, Government, Economy, Communications & Transportation, Military & Transnational Issues.
Background
Definition
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.
Location
Definition
Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates
Definition
18 20 N, 64 50 W
Map references
Definition
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 1,910 sq km
land: 346 sq km
water: 1,564 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
Definition
0 km
Coastline
Definition
188 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate
Definition
subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to November
Terrain
Definition
mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Crown Mountain 475 m
Natural resources
Definition
sun, sand, sea, surf
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 2.86%
other: 91.43% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
NA
Natural hazards
Definition
several hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes
Environment - current issues
Definition
lack of natural freshwater resources
Geography - note
Definition
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


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