The State of Grenada consists of three islands- Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique which form the southern end of the Windward Islands. Formerly colonized for many years, first by the French and then by the British, the islands of Grenada still retain traces of these European influences in their culture, architecture and place names. The Capital, St. George’s, is located on the south west coast of Grenada. It is the seat of government and the main commercial centre.
Before the 14th century, the Caribs who displaced the earlier population of Arawaks, settled Grenada. Christopher Columbus during his third voyage to the new world in 1498 sited the island and named it Concepción. The origin of the name “Grenada” is ambiguous but it is likely that Spanish sailors renamed the island for the city of Granada in Spain. The French then adapted Granada to Grenade, and the British followed suit, changing Grenade to Grenada.
European settlement was slow to follow due to the fierce resistance of the warlike Caribs. The island remained un-colonized for more than 150 years although Britain and France fought for control. The French gained control of the island in 1672 and held on to it until the British successfully invaded the island in 1762 during the Seven Years’ War and acquired Grenada by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Although the French regained control in 1779, the island was restored to Britain in 1783 by the Treaty of Versailles.
During the 18th century the British established sugar plantations and slave labour was brought in from Africa to work on the estates. Natural disasters in the late 18th century destroyed the sugar fields and paved the way for the introduction of other crops. Cacao, cotton, nutmeg and other valuable spices were introduced and Grenada assumed a new importance to European traders.
Average temperatures range from 75ºF to 85ºF (24ºC to 30ºC), tempered by the steady and cooling trade winds. The lowest temperatures occur between November and February. Due to Grenada’s remarkable landscape, the island also experiences climate changes according to altitude. The driest season is between January and May while the rainy season is from June to December.
Grenada has a largely tourism-based, small, open economy. Over the past two decades, the economy has shifted from one of agriculture-dominant into that of services-dominant, with tourism serving as the leading foreign currency earning sector. The country’s principal export crops are the spices nutmeg and mace (Grenada is the world’s second largest producer of nutmeg after Indonesia). Other crops for export include cocoa, citrus fruits, bananas, cloves, and cinnamon. Manufacturing industries in Grenada operate mostly on a small scale, including production of beverages and other foodstuffs, textiles, and the assembly of electronic components for export.
Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005) severely damaged the nutmeg industry, which was previously a key driver of economic growth, and the industry is not expected to recover in the near-term. The agricultural sector, particularly nutmeg and cocoa cultivation, has gradually recovered from the hurricanes, and the tourism sector has seen substantial increases in foreign direct investment as the regional share of the tourism market increases. Strong performances in construction and manufacturing, together with the development of an offshore financial industry, have also contributed to growth in national output; however, economic growth will likely slow in 2009 because of the global economic slowdown’s effects on tourism and remittances. Grenada has rebounded from the devastating effects of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily, but is now saddled with the debt burden from the rebuilding process. Public debt-to-GDP is nearly 110%, leaving the THOMAS administration limited room to engage in public investments and social spending.
The State of Grenada consists of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and lies between Trinidad and Tobago to the south and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the north in the Eastern Caribbean. It is the southern-most of the Windward Islands. It is 100 miles north of Venezuela, 158 miles south west of Barbados.
Grenada is 12 miles (18km) wide and 21 miles (34km) long, and covers a land area of 120 sq. miles (440 sq. km), Carriacou is 13 sq. miles (34 sq. km) and Petite Martinique is 486 acres (194 hectares).
Grenada is divided into 6 parishes plus Carriacou and Petite Martinique:
Grenada’s volcanic origin has produced topography of great beauty and environmental variety, ranging from mountainous rainforest to dry lowlands and coastal mangroves. The highest point is Mt. St. Catherine at 2,757 ft. and ancient volcanic craters can be found in the central massif.
Parishes Town Area (km2) Population
Saint Patrick Sauteurs 42 10,674
Saint Mark Victoria 25 3,994
Saint John Gouyave 35 8,591
Saint Andrew Grenville 99 24,749
Saint George St. Georges 65 37,057
Saint David St. David’s 44 11,486
Carriacou Hillsborough 34 6,081
Approximately 108,132 (est. 2008) people inhabit Grenada, including the 6,521 inhabitants of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The nation’s citizens are primarily of African, East-Indian and European descent, with the largest proportion of the population, approximately 75%, of African descent. Grenada is an English-speaking nation.
Grenada gained independence from Britain in 1974 and is an independent nation within the British Commonwealth. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State and is represented locally by the Governor General, who is appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister. Grenada has a West Minister Style Parliamentary form of Government. The Parliament which exercises legislative power consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Executive power lies with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. General Elections are held every five (5) years.