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US Virgin Islands Geography


The US Virgin Islands is situated about 64 km (40 mi) north of Puerto Rico and 1,600 km (1,000 mi) south-southeast of Miami, between 17°40′ and 18°25′ N and 64°34′ and 65°3′ N. The island group extends 82 km (51 mi) north to south, and 80 km (50 mi) east to west with a total area of at least 353 sq km (136 sq mi). Only three of the more than 50 islands and cays are of significant size: St. Croix, 218 sq km (84 sq mi) in area; St. Thomas, 83 sq km (32 sq mi); and St. John, 52 sq km (20 sq mi). The combined land area of the islands is roughly twice the size of Washington, DC. The territorial capital, Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas, has one of the finest harbours in the Caribbean.

The US Virgin Islands lie on the boundary of the North American plate and the Caribbean Plate. Natural hazards include earthquakes, tropical cyclones and hurricanes.

St. Croix is relatively flat, with a terrain suitable for sugarcane cultivation. St. Thomas is mountainous and little cultivated, but it has many snug harbours. St. John, also mountainous, has fine beaches and lush vegetation; about two-thirds of St. John's area has been declared a national park.

The subtropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 21° to 32°C (70-90°F) and an average temperature of 25°C (77°F), is moderated by northeast trade winds. Rainfall, the main source of fresh water, varies widely, and severe droughts are frequent. The average yearly rainfall is 114 cm (45 in), mostly during the summer months.


Location : Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates : 18 20 N, 64 50 W
Map references

: Central America and the Caribbean

: total: 1,910 sq km
land: 346 sq km
water: 1,564 sq km
Area - comparative : twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries : 0 km
Coastline : 188 km
Maritime claims
: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate : subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to November
Terrain : mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land
Elevation extremes
: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Crown Mountain 475 m
Natural resources : sun, sand, sea, surf
Land use : arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 2.86%
other: 91.43% (2005)
Irrigated land : NA
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 deep-water harbours in the Caribbean




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