Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, also frequently known simply as Saint Vincent, is an Anglo-Caribbean country of several islands in the Lesser Antilles island arc, in the southeast 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.
Its territory consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, a chain of 32 smaller islands. Some of the Grenadines are inhabited — Bequia, Mustique, Union Island, Canouan, Palm Island, Mayreau, Young Island — while others are not: Tobago Cays, 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, to the east is Barbados, and Grenada lies to the south. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a densely populated country for its size with approximately inhabitants.
Kingstown is the capital and main port. Saint Vincent has a British colonial history, and is now part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, CARICOM, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Etymology, the first European to discover the island, named it after St. Vincent of Saragossa, whose feast day it was on the day Columbus first saw it. The name of the Grenadines refers to the Spanish city of Granada, but to differentiate it from the island of the same name, the diminutive was used. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Carib natives who inhabited the island of St. Vincent called it Youloumain, in honour of Youlouca, the spirit of the rainbows, who they believed inhabited the island.
Pre-colonial periodBefore the arrival of Europeans and Africans in the 16th century, various Amerindian groups passed through or settled on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including the Ciboney, Arawak, and Carib people. The island now known as Saint Vincent was originally named Youloumain by the native Island Caribs who called themselves Kalina/Carina.
European arrival and early colonial periodIt is thought that Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1498, giving it the name St Vincent. The indigenous Garifuna people, who became known as the "Black Caribs", aggressively prevented European settlement on Saint Vincent.
French and British colonisation and the First Carib WarVarious attempts by the English and Dutch to claim the island proved unsuccessful, and it was the French who were first able to colonise the island, settling 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 the plantations of sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, cotton and cocoa.
The British captured the island and drove out the French from Barrouallie during the Seven Years' War, a claim confirmed with the Treaty of Paris. On taking control of the island in 1763, the British laid the foundations of Fort Charlotte and also brought with them enslaved African prisoners of war to work on the island plantations. The Black Caribs however, opposed to the British presence, went into open conflict against the British, starting the First Carib War which lasted from 1772 to 1773.
During the Anglo-French War the French recaptured St Vincent in 1779. However, the British regained control under the Treaty of Versailles.Joseph Chatoyer and they were supported by the French, notably the radical Victor Hugues from the island of Martinique. Their revolt and uprising was eventually put to an end in 1797 by British General Sir Ralph Abercromby; a peace treaty agreement was made which resulted in almost 5,000 Black Caribs being exiled to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras, and to Belize and Baliceaux in the Grenadines.
In 1806 the building of Fort Charlotte was completed.
The volcano La Soufrière erupted in 1812, resulting in considerable destruction
The British abolished slavery in Saint Vincent 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 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 of Nigeria was exiled to 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 centuryIn 1902, the volcano La Soufrière erupted, killing 1,500-2,000 people; much farmland was damaged, and the economy deteriorated.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorised in 1776, Crown Colony government was installed in 1877, a legislative council was created in 1925 with a limited franchise, 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. However, 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.
In April 1979 La Soufrière erupted again. Although no one was killed, thousands were evacuated and again there was extensive agricultural damage.
On 27 October 1979 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain full independence, and this date is now the country's Independence Day, a public holiday. The country opted to remain within the British Commonwealth, retaining Queen Elizabeth as Monarch, represented locally by a Governor-General.
Post-independence eraof the centre-left Saint Vincent Labour Party was the country's first Prime Minister, ruling until he was defeated in the 1984 Vincentian general election by James Fitz-Allen Mitchell of the centre-right New Democratic Party. During Cato's time in office there was a brief rebellion on Union Island in December 1979 led by Lennox 'Bumba' Charles; apparently inspired by the recent revolution on Grenada, Charles alleged neglect of Union by the central government. However, the revolt was swiftly put down and Charles arrested. There were also a series of strikes in the early 1980s. James Mitchell remained Prime Minister for 16 years until 2000, winning three consecutive elections. Mitchell was at the forefront of attempts to improve regional integration. 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.
In 2000 Arnhim Eustace became Prime Minister after taking over the leadership of the NDP following Mitchell's retirement; he was defeated a year later by Ralph Gonsalves of the Unity Labour Party. Gonsalves—a left-winger known in the country as "Comrade Ralph"—has argued that European nations owe Caribbean nations reparations for their role in the Atlantic slave trade. Gonsalves won a second term in 2005, a third term in 2010, and a fourth term in 2015.
In 2009, a referendum was held on a proposal to adopt a new constitution that would make the country a republic, replacing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state with a non-executive President, a proposal supported by Prime Minister Gonsalves. A two-thirds majority was required, and it was defeated by 29,019 votes to 22,493.
GeographySaint 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 and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, 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. 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 centre of a prominent real-estate scam in the early 2000s.
The capital of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is Kingstown, Saint Vincent. The main island of Saint Vincent measures long, in width and in area. From the most northern to the most southern points, the Grenadine islands belonging to Saint Vincent span, with a combined area of.
The island of Saint Vincent is volcanic and heavily forested, 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. Other major mountains on St Vincent are Richmond Peak, Mount Brisbane, Colonarie Mountain, Grand Bonhomme, Petit Bonhomme and Mount St Andrew.
Government and politicsSaint 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 as head of state in the country by the Governor-General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, currently Susan Dougan.
The office of Governor-General has mostly ceremonial functions including the opening of the islands' House of Assembly and the appointment of various government officials. Control of the government rests with the elected Prime Minister and his or her cabinet. The current Prime Minister is Ralph Gonsalves, elected in 2001 as head of the Unity Labour Party.
The legislative branch of government is the unicameral House of Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, seating 15 elected members representing single-member constituencies and six appointed members known as Senators. The parliamentary term of office is five years, although the Prime Minister may call elections at any time.
The judicial branch of government is divided into district courts, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the Privy Council in London being the court of last resort.
Political cultureThe two political parties with parliamentary representation are the New Democratic Party and the Unity Labour Party. The parliamentary opposition is made up of the largest minority stakeholder in the general elections, headed by the leader of the opposition. The current opposition leader is Godwin Friday.
MilitarySaint Vincent has no formal armed forces, although the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force includes a Special Service Unit as well as a militia that has a supporting role on the island.
In 2017, Saint Vincent signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Administrative divisionsAdministratively, 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.
LGBT rightsActs of gross indecency, which may be defined to include homosexual activity, are illegal in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Section 148 of the Criminal Code states that "Any person, who in public or private, commits an act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex to commit an act of gross indecency with him or her, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for five years".
International and regional relationshipsSaint Vincent and the Grenadines maintains close ties to Canada, the United Kingdom and the US, and cooperates with regional political and economic organisations such as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and CARICOM. The island nation's sixth embassy overseas was opened on 8 August 2019 in Taipei, after Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves' official visit to the Republic of China; the other five are located in London, Washington D.C., Havana, Caracas and Brussels.
The Double Taxation Relief (CARICOM) TreatyOn 6 July 1994 at Sherbourne Conference Centre, St Michael, Barbados, as a representative of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, then signed the Double Taxation Relief Treaties. There were seven other signatories to the agreement on that day. The countries which were represented were Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
An eighth country signed the agreement on 19 August 2016, Guyana.
This treaty covered taxes, residence, tax jurisdictions, capital gains, business profits, interest, dividends, royalties and other areas.
FATCAOn 30 June 2014, St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed a Model 1 agreement with the United States of America with respect to Foreign Account Tax Compliance or FATCA.
According to the updated site as of 16 January 2017, on 13 May 2016 the agreement went to "In Force" status.
International and regional bodies to which St. Vincent and the Grenadines belongSt Vincent and the Grenadines is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Association of Caribbean States.
In September 2017, at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, the Prime Ministers of the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines called for UN action on alleged human rights abuses committed on Western New Guinea's indigenous Papuans. Western New Guinea has been occupied by Indonesia since 1963. More than 100,000 Papuans have died during a 50-year Papua conflict.
Organisation of American StatesThe Charter of the OAS was signed in Bogotá in 1948 and was amended by several Protocols which were named after the city and the year in which the Protocol was signed, such as "Managua" in "1993" forming part of the name of the Protocol.
St Vincent and the Grenadines entered the OAS system on 27 October 1981 according to the OAS website.Panama City, Panama in 2015 with the eighth summit being held in Lima, Peru in 2018 according to the website of the Summits of Americas.
Indigenous Leaders Summits of Americas (ILSA)With St Vincent and the Grenadines having at least two groups of indigenous persons it is expected that there will be contributions from the SVG's on this topic at the next ILSAs.
The position of the OAS with respect to indigenous persons appears to be developing over the years. The following statements appear to capture the position of the OAS with respect to the ILSA: "The OAS has supported and participated in the organisation of Indigenous Leaders Summits of Americas " according to the OAS's website. The most recent "statement made by the Heads of State of the hemisphere was in the Declaration of Commitments of Port of Spain in 2009 – Paragraph 86 according to the OAS's website."
The Draft American Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Persons appear to be a working document. The last "Meeting for Negotiations in the Quest for Consensus on this area appeared to be Meeting Number eighteen and is listed as being held in May 2015 according to the website."
European nationsIn 2013, Saint Vincent called for European nations to pay reparations for the slave trade.
VenezuelaSaint Vincent protests against Venezuela's claim to give full effect to Aves Island, which creates a Venezuelan EEZ/continental shelf extending over a large portion of the Caribbean Sea.
EconomyAgriculture, dominated by banana production, is the most important sector of this lower-middle-income economy. The services sector, based mostly on a growing tourist industry, is also important. The government has been relatively unsuccessful at introducing new industries, and the unemployment rate remains high at 19.8% in the 1991 census to 15% in 2001. The continuing dependence on a single crop represents the biggest obstacle to the islands' development as tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of bananas in many years.
There is a small manufacturing sector and a small offshore financial sector serving international businesses, and its secrecy laws have caused some international concern. There are increasing demands for international financial services like stock exchange and financial intermediaries financial activities in the country. In addition, the natives of Bequia are permitted to hunt up to four humpback whales per year under IWC subsistence quotas.
TourismThe 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.
Transportationis the country's new international airport. The new facility opened on 14 February 2017, replacing the existing E.T. Joshua Airport. The airport is on the island's east coast about 8.3 km from Kingstown.
CommunicationsIn 2010, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had 21,700 telephone land lines. Its land telephone system is fully automatic and covers the entire island and all of the inhabited Grenadine islands. In 2002, there were 10,000 mobile phones. By 2010, this number had increased to 131,800. Mobile phone service is available in most areas of Saint Vincent as well as the Grenadines.
Saint Vincent has two ISPs that provide cellular telephone and internet service.
DemographicsThe population as estimated in was. The ethnic composition was 66% African descent, 19% of mixed descent, 6% East Indian, 4% Europeans, 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 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.
LanguagesEnglish is the official language. Most Vincentians speak Vincentian Creole. English is used in education, government, religion, and other formal domains, while Creole is used in informal situations such as in the home and among friends.
ReligionAccording to the 2001 census, 81.5% of the population of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines identified themselves as Christian, 6.7% has another religion and 8.8% has no religion or did not state a religion.
Anglicanism constitutes the largest religious category, with 17.8% of the population. Pentecostals are the second largest group. The next largest group are Methodists, followed by Seventh-day Adventists and Baptists. Other Christians include Jehovah's Witnesses, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Church of God, Brethren Christian, and the Salvation Army.
Between 1991 and 2001 the number of Anglicans, Brethren, Methodists and Roman Catholics decreased, while the number of Pentecostals, Evangelicals and Seventh-day Adventists increased.
The number of non-Christians is small. These religious groups include the Rastafarians, Hindus and Muslims.
SportCricket, rugby and association football are most popular among men whereas netball is most popular among women. Basketball, volleyball and tennis are also very popular.
The country's prime football league is the NLA Premier League, which provides its national football team with most players. A notable Vincentian footballer is Ezra Hendrickson, former national team captain who played at several Major League Soccer clubs in the United States and is now an assistant coach with the Seattle Sounders FC.
The country regularly participates at the Caribbean Basketball Championship where a men's team and a women's team compete. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines also has its own national rugby union team which is ranked 84th in the world. Other notable sports played at the regional level include track and field.
MusicMusic popular in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines includes big drum, calypso, soca, steelpan and reggae. String band music, quadrille 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.
MediaSaint Vincent has twelve FM radio stations including 88.9 Adoration Fm, 89.1 Jem Radio, 89.7 NBC Radio, 95.7 and 105.7 Praise FM, 96.7 Nice Radio, 97.1 Hot 97, 98.3 Star FM, 99.9 We FM, 103.7 Hitz, 102.7 EZee radio, 104.3 Xtreme FM and 106.9 Boom FM. Several Internet radio stations including Chronicles Christian Radio. It has one television broadcast station ZBG-TV and one cable television provider.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Broadcasting Co-operation is the parent company for SVGTV, Magic 103.7.