Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an Anglo-Caribbean country in the British West Indies region of the Lesser Antilles island arc, in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lies in the West Indies at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean. The sovereign state is also frequently known simply as Saint Vincent.
Its 389 km2 (150 sq mi) territory consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, which are a chain of 32 smaller islands including Saint Vincent.
Some of the Grenadine Islands are inhabited: Bequia, Mustique, Union Island, Canouan, Palm Island, Mayreau, Young Island and others are uninhabited: Tobago Cays (Includes Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau, Baradal, Petit Tabac and Jamesby), Petit Saint Vincent, Baliceaux, Bettowia, Quatre, Petite Mustique, Savan and Petit Nevis. Most of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines lies within the Hurricane Alley.
To the north of Saint Vincent lies Saint Lucia and to the east is Barbados. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a densely populated country for its size (over 300 inhabitants/km2) with approximately 109,643 inhabitants.
Kingstown is the capital and main port.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with Elizabeth II as Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. She does not reside in the islands and is represented in the country by the Governor-General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Administratively, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is divided into six parishes. Five parishes are on Saint Vincent, while the sixth is made up of the Grenadine islands. Kingstown is located in the Parish of Saint George and is the capital city and central administrative centre of the country.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines lies to the west of Barbados, south of Saint Lucia and north of Grenada in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, an island arc of the Caribbean Sea. The islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines include the main island of Saint Vincent 344 km2 (133 sq mi) and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines 45 km2 (17 sq mi), which are a chain of smaller islands stretching south from Saint Vincent to Grenada.
There are 32 islands and cays that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Nine are inhabited, including the mainland St Vincent and the Grenadines islands: Young Island, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, Petit St Vincent and Palm Island. Prominent uninhabited islands of the Grenadines include Petit Nevis, used by whalers, and Petit Mustique, which was the center of a prominent real estate scam in the early 1990s.
The capital of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is Kingstown, Saint Vincent. The main island of Saint Vincent measures 26 km (16 mi) long, 15 km (9.3 mi) in width and 344 km2 (133 sq mi) in area. From the most northern to the most southern points, the Grenadine islands belonging to Saint Vincent span 60.4 km (37.5 mi) with a combined area of 45 km2 (17 sq mi).
The island of Saint Vincent is volcanic and includes little level ground. The windward side of the island is very rocky and steep, while the leeward side has more sandy beaches and bays.
Saint Vincent’s highest peak is La Soufrière volcano at 1,234 m (4,049 ft).
Demographics & Language
The population as estimated in 2016 was 109,643.
The ethnic composition was 66% African descent, 19% of mixed descent, 6% East Indian, 4% Europeans (mainly Portuguese), 2% Island Carib and 3% others.
Most Vincentians are the descendants of African people brought to the island to work on plantations.
There are other ethnic groups such as Portuguese (from Madeira) and East Indians, both brought in to work on the plantations after the abolishing of slavery by the British living on the island.
There is also a growing Chinese population.
English is the official language. Most Vincentians speak Vincentian Creole. English is used in education, government, religion, and other formal domains, while Creole (or ‘dialect’ as it is referred to locally) is used in informal situations such as in the home and among friends.
History & Timeline
The island now known as Saint Vincent was originally named Youloumain  by the native Island Caribs who called themselves Kalina/Carina (“l” and “r” being pronounced the same in their language).
Christopher Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors
In the 1500s Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors noted in their records that they had observed there was a significantly large African civilisation living amongst the indigenous population, they did not know how they arrived on the island and they assumed that they must have come from shipwrecked slave ships or escaped from St. Lucia, Grenada or from Barbados, and sought refuge in mainland Saint Vincent, they noted that the Africans intermarried with the Caribs and became known as Black Caribs or Garifuna.
In 1627 the English were the first to lay claim to St Vincent.
The Caribs aggressively prevented European settlement on Saint Vincent until 1719.
French Presence – First phase
The First Europeans to enter St. Vincent were the French, however their influence on the population was minimal. the French settled in the town of Barrouallie on the Leeward side of St Vincent in 1719. The French brought with them , enslaved African prisoners of war to work plantations of sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, cotton and cocoa.
British colony – First Carib war – Second phase
The British captured the island and drove out the French from Barrouallie during the Seven Years’ War, The British brought with them enslaved African prisoners of war to work on the island plantations. The Caribs went into open conflict and entered into the First Carib War with the British, the war lasted from 1769 to 1773. Following the series of wars and peace treaties, the islands were eventually ceded to the Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris (1763), On taking control of the island in 1763, the British laid the foundations of Fort Charlotte.
French Return – Third phase
The French return in 1779 restored to French rule in 1779
British colony – Fourth Phase
The British regain back control under the Treaty of Versailles (1783).
British colony – Second Carib War -Fifth phase
There was again conflict between the British and the Black Caribs which led to another war the crushing an uprising between the two groups, The revolt and uprising was led by National hero Garifuna leader Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer. The war continued from 1783 to 1796, the Caribs gained support from the French radical, Victor Hugues from the island of Martinique, the Black Caribs fought a long and hard series of battles against the British. Their revolt and uprising was eventually put to an end when In 1797 British General Sir Ralph Abercromby, signed a treaty with the garifuna, The British did not want to let go of St. Vincent due to the fertile ground & nature of the island which was ripe for the thriving sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, cotton and cocoa farming industry . A peace treaty agreement was made , resulting in almost 5,000 Black Caribs being exiled toto Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras and Belize, and to an island of Baliceaux off the coast of Bequia.
In 1806 the building of Fort Charlotte was completed.
The La Soufriere volcano erupted in 1812.
The British ended Slavery abolished in Saint Vincent (as well as in the other British West Indies colonies) in 1834, and an apprenticeship period followed which ended in 1838. After its end, labour shortages on the plantations resulted, and this was initially addressed by the immigration of indentured servants. In the late 1840s many Portuguese immigrants arrived from Madeira and between 1861 and 1888 shiploads of East Indian labourers arrived. Conditions remained harsh for both former slaves and immigrant agricultural workers, as depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the turn of the century.The economy then went into a period of decline with many landowners abandoning their estates and leaving the land to be cultivated by liberated slaves.
The Opobo king Jaja was exiled to St. Vincent after his 1887 arrest by the British for shipping cargoes of palm oil directly to Liverpool without the intermediation of the National African Company.
20th and 21st centuries
In 1903, La Soufrière volcano erupted, killing 5,000 people. Much farmland was damaged, and the economy deteriorated.
From 1763 until its independence from Britain in 1979, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorized in 1776, Crown Colony government was installed in 1877, a legislative council was created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage was granted in 1951.
During the period of its control of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Britain made several attempts to unify the island with other Windward Islands as a single entity, with the aim of simplifying British control in the Anglo-Caribbean region through a single unified administration. In the 1960s, The British again tried to unify all of its regional islands including Saint Vincent into one united single entity under British control, unified politically. The unification was to be called the West Indies Federation and was driven by a desire to gain independence from British government. The attempt collapsed in 1962.
Saint Vincent was granted “associate statehood” status by Britain on 27 October 1969. This gave Saint Vincent complete control over its own internal affairs but was short of full independence in law. On 27 October 1979, under Milton Cato, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain full independence. Independence came on the 10th anniversary of Saint Vincent’s associate statehood status.
In April 1979, La Soufrière volcano erupted again. Although no one was killed, thousands were evacuated and again there was extensive agricultural damage. In 1980 and 1987, hurricanes damaged many banana and coconut plantations. Hurricane seasons were also very active in 1998 and 1999, with Hurricane Lenny in 1999 causing extensive damage to the west coast of the island.
On 25 November 2009, voters were asked to approve a new constitution in a referendum. The new constitution proposed to make the country a republic, replacing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state with a non-executive President. A two-thirds majority was required, and it was defeated by 30,019 votes (55.64 per cent) to 12,493 (43.13 per cent).
Tourism & What to do in St Vincent & the Grenadines
The tourism sector has considerable potential for development. The recent filming of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on the island has helped to expose the country to more potential visitors and investors. Recent growth has been stimulated by strong activity in the construction sector and an improvement in tourism.
Traditions, Holidays & Festivals
Music popular in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines includes big drum, calypso, soca, chutney, steelpan and reggae. String band music, quadrille and bele music and traditional storytelling are also popular. One of the most successful St Vincent natives is Kevin Lyttle. He was named Cultural Ambassador for the Island 19 September 2013.
The national anthem of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is “Saint Vincent, Land so beautiful”, adopted upon independence in 1979.
Argyle International Airport is the country’s new international airport. The new facility opened on 14 February 2017, replacing the existing E.T. Joshua Airport.