Grenada is an island nation in the southeastern Caribbean Sea including the southern Grenadines. Grenada is the second-smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere (after Saint Kitts and Nevis). It is located north of Trinidad and Tobago, and south of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Main article: History of Grenada
The recorded history of Grenada begins in 1498, when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island. At the time of settlement the island was occupied either by Island Caribs (Kalinago) or by their mainland cousins, the Kariņa. After a failed British settlement attempt, the French purchased the island from the indigenous people in 1650, which resulted in warfare with the Caribs of Dominica and St. Vincent who feared losing their trade routes to the mainland. The island was again ceded to Britain in 1783. Grenada was made a Crown Colony in 1877.
The island was a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. Independence was granted in 1974 under the leadership of Eric Gairy. Gairy's government became increasingly authoritarian, prompting a coup d'etat in 1979 by the charismatic and popular left-wing leader Maurice Bishop. Bishop's failure to allow elections, coupled with his socialism and cooperation with Communist Cuba did not sit well with the country's neighbours including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica and the United States. A power struggle between Bishop and the rest of the ruling New Jewel Movement loyal to Bernard Coard led to Bishop's house arrest and later execution on October 19, 1983 under disputed circumstances.
Six days later, the island was invaded by forces from the United States and six other Caribbean nations in part of a military campaign called Operation Urgent Fury. Although the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon later stated that he had requested the invasion, the British Government and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago expressed anger because they were not consulted. The forces quickly captured the ringleaders and their hundreds of Cuban advisers, most of whom were laborers working on the construction of a major airport for the island which the United States completed years later. Elections were held the following year. A publicised tactical concern of the United States was the safe recovery of U.S. nationals enrolled at St. George's University.
In September 2004, the island was directly hit by Hurricane Ivan. The category 4 hurricane caused 90 percent of the homes to be damaged or destroyed.
Main article: Politics of Grenada
As a Commonwealth nation, the British monarch is the formal head of state of Grenada. She is represented by a governor general, but real executive power lies with the head of government, the prime minister. Although appointed by the governor general, the prime minister generally is the leader of the largest faction in the parliament.
The parliament consists of a Senate (13 members) and a House of Representatives (15 members). The senators are appointed by the government and the opposition, while the representatives are elected by the population for 5-year terms. With 49.9% of the votes and 8 seats in the 2003 election, the New National Party remains the largest party in Grenada. The largest opposition party is the National Democratic Congress with 45.1% of the votes and 7 seats.
Grenada is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Main article: Parishes of Grenada
Politically, Grenada is divided into six parishes:
Carriacou and Petit Martinique, two of the Grenadines have the status of dependency.
Main article: Geography of Grenada
The island Grenada itself is the largest island; smaller Grenadines are Carriacou, Petit Martinique , Rhonde Island , Caille Island , Diamond Island , Large Island , Saline Island and Frigate Island . Most of the population lives on Grenada itself, and major towns there include the capital St. George's, Grenville and Gouyave . Largest settlement on the other islands is Hillsborough on Carriacou.
The islands are of volcanic origin, and Grenada's inlands are slightly mountainous, with several small rivers flowing into the sea. The climate is tropical: hot and humid, and Grenada occasionally suffers from hurricanes. The most recent storm to hit was Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Main article: Economy of Grenada
Economic progress in fiscal reforms and prudent macroeconomic management have boosted annual growth to 5%-6% in 1998-99; the increase in economic activity has been led by construction and trade. Tourist facilities are being expanded; tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner. Major short-term concerns are the rising fiscal deficit and the deterioration in the external account balance. Grenada shares a common central bank and a common currency (the East Caribbean Dollar) with seven other members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Mace within nutmeg fruit
Grenada is sometimes called spice island
, and nutmeg
are important exports. There is a nutmeg on the nation's flag.
The red lacy material in the photo is mace. It is found between the nutmeg fruit and the nut itself.
Main article: Demographics of Grenada
About 80% of the population are descendants of the African slaves brought by the Europeans; very little of the indigenous Carib and Arawak population remains.
The official language, English, is spoken by virtually everyone, although a few still speak a French patois. Nearly all Grenadians are Christians, about half of them Catholics; Anglicanism is the largest Protestant denomination.
Main article: Culture of Grenada
French influence on culture is much less than in other Caribbean islands, and culture is heavily influenced by the African roots of most of the Grenadians.
- Stark, James H. 1897. Stark's Guide-Book and History of Trinidad including Tobago, Granada, and St. Vincent; also a trip up the Orinoco and a description of the great Venezuelan Pitch Lake. Boston, James H. Stark, publisher; London, Sampson Low, Marston & Company.