1. There is virtual unanimity about the need for sustainable macroeconomic balance as a condition for economic growth.
2. The shift in economic policy that took place during the 1980s has continued into the 1990s and has reached virtuallyall developing countries.
In both sentences, can the word “virtual” or “virtually” be replaced by “almost” (in meaning)? In dictionaries, I have never seen VIRTUAL interpreted as “almost”.
Think of this as an example. "He told the honest truth." "Truth" by definition is honest. One cannot tell the "honest truth." One simply tells the "truth."
Well, "unanimity" is by definition inclusive. You can't "virtually" have it. Either you do, or you don't.
In the second sentence, the word is indeed a substitute for "almost." To my mind, and my eye, it is not a good choice. However, it is accepted and widely used as such.