Saint Vincent And The Grenadines


Saint Vincent And The Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Introduction Saint Vincent and the Grenadines -
Background: Disputed between France and the United Kingdom in the 18th century, Saint Vincent was ceded to the latter in 1783. Autonomy was granted in 1969, and independence in 1979. Geography Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Location: Caribbean, islands in the Caribbean Sea, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Geographic coordinates: 13 15 N, 61 12 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 389 sq km (Saint Vincent 344 sq km) water: 0 sq km land: 389 sq km
Area - comparative: twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 84 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 NM continental shelf: 200 NM
Climate: tropical; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November)
Terrain: volcanic, mountainous
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Soufriere 1,234 m
Natural resources: hydropower, cropland
Land use: arable land: 10.26% permanent crops: 17.95% other: 71.79% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: hurricanes; Soufriere volcano on the island of Saint Vincent is a constant threat Environment - current issues: pollution of coastal waters and shorelines from discharges by pleasure yachts and other effluents; in some areas, pollution is severe enough to make swimming prohibitive Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: the administration of the islands of the Grenadines group is divided between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is comprised of 32 islands and cays People Saint Vincent and the Grenadines -
Population: 116,394 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.9% (male 17,093; female 16,497) 15-64 years: 64.8% (male 38,718; female 36,689) 65 years and over: 6.3% (male 3,188; female 4,209) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.37% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 17.54 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.12 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -7.69 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/ female total population: 1.03 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 16.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.82 years female: 74.63 years (2002 est.) male: 71.07 years
Total fertility rate: 2.01 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Saint Vincentian(s) or Vincentian(s) adjective: Saint Vincentian or Vincentian
Ethnic groups: black 66%, mixed 19%, East Indian 6%, Carib Amerindian 2%, other 7%
Religions: Anglican 47%, Methodist 28%, Roman Catholic 13%, Hindu Seventh-Day Adventist, other Protestant
Languages: English, French patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school total population: 96% male: 96% female: 96% (1970 est.) Government Saint Vincent and the Grenadines -
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Government type: parliamentary democracy; independent sovereign state within the Commonwealth
Capital: Kingstown Administrative divisions: 6 parishes; Charlotte, Grenadines, Saint Andrew, Saint David, Saint George, Saint Patrick
Independence: 27 October 1979 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 27 October (1979)
Constitution: 27 October 1979
Legal system: based on English common law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Charles ANTROBUS (since NA) elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the governor general is appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister head of government: Prime Minister Ralph GONSALVES (since 29 March 2001)
Legislative branch: unicameral House of Assembly (21 seats, 15 elected representatives and 6 appointed senators; representatives are elected by popular vote from single-member constituencies to serve five-year terms) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - ULP 12, NDP 3 elections: last held 28 March 2001 (next to be held by March 2006)
Judicial branch: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based on Saint Lucia; one judge of the Supreme Court resides in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) Political parties and leaders: National Reform Party or NRP [Joel MIGUEL]; New Democratic Party or NDP [Arnhim EUSTACE]; People's Progressive Movement or PPM [Ken BOYEA]; Progressive Labor Party or PLP [leader NA]; United People's Movement or UPM [Adrian SAUNDERS]; Unity Labor Party or ULP [Ralph GONSALVES] (formed by the coalition of Saint Vincent Labor Party or SVLP and the Movement for National Unity or MNU) Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-
participation: 77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ITU, OAS, OECS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Ellsworth I. A. JOHN chancery: 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016 telephone: [1] (202) 364-6730 FAX: [1] (202) 364-6736 Diplomatic representation from the the US does not have an embassy in
US: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; the US Ambassador in Barbados is accredited to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Flag description: three vertical bands of blue (hoist side), gold (double width), and green; the gold band bears three green diamonds arranged in a V pattern Economy Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Economy - overview: Bananas and other agricultural products remain the staple of this lower-middle income country's economy. Although tourism and other services have been growing moderately in recent years, the government has been ineffective at introducing new industries. Unemployment remains high, and economic growth hinges upon seasonal variations in the agricultural and tourism sectors. Tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of crops in 1994 and 1995, and tourism in the Eastern Caribbean has suffered low arrivals following September 11. St. Vincent is home to a small offshore banking sector, but its restrictive secrecy laws have come under international review. As of June 2001, it remained on the Financial Action Task Force's list of noncooperative jurisdictions.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $339 million (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -0.8% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,900 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 10% industry: 26% services: 64% (2001 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): -0.4% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 67,000 (1984 est.) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 26%, industry 17%, services 57% (1980 est.)
Unemployment rate: 22% (1997 est.)
Budget: revenues: $94.6 million expenditures: $85.8 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Industries: food processing, cement, furniture, clothing, starch Industrial production growth rate: -0.9% (1997 est.) Electricity - production: 82 million kWh (1999) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 73.17% hydro: 26.83% other: 0% (1999) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 76.3 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: bananas, coconuts, sweet potatoes, spices; small numbers of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats; fish
Exports: $53.7 million (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: bananas 39%, eddoes and dasheen (taro), arrowroot starch, tennis racquets
Exports - partners: Caricom countries 49%, UK 16%, US 10% (1995)
Imports: $185.6 million (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, chemicals and fertilizers, minerals and fuels
Imports - partners: US 36%, Caricom countries 28%, UK 13% (1995)
Debt - external: $167.2 million (2000) Economic aid - recipient: $47.5 million (1995); note - EU $34.5 million (1998)
Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Currency code: XCD
Exchange rates: East Caribbean dollars per US dollar - 2.7000 (fixed rate since 1976)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Telephones - main lines in use: 20,500 (1998) Telephones - mobile cellular: NA
Telephone system: general assessment: adequate system domestic: islandwide, fully automatic telephone system; VHF/UHF radiotelephone from Saint Vincent to the other islands of the Grenadines international: VHF/UHF radiotelephone from Saint Vincent to Barbados; new SHF radiotelephone to Grenada and to Saint Lucia; access to Intelsat earth station in Martinique through Saint Lucia Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 3, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 77,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus three repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 18,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .vc Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 15 (2000)
Internet users: 3,500 (2001) Transportation Saint Vincent and the Grenadines -
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 1,040 km paved: 320 km unpaved: 720 km (1996)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Kingstown
Merchant marine: total: 788 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 7,000,660 GRT/10,702,776 DWT ships by type: barge carrier 1, bulk 142, cargo 382, chemical tanker 24, combination bulk 11, combination ore/oil 3, container 47, liquefied gas 7, livestock carrier 3, multi- functional large-load carrier 2, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 48, refrigerated cargo 39, roll on/roll off 52, short-sea passenger 13, specialized tanker 10, vehicle carrier 1 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Albania 1, Anguilla 1, Argentina 1, Australia 2, Bahamas, The 1, Bangladesh 1, Barbados 2, Belgium 4, Bulgaria 14, Canada 1, Cayman Islands 1, China 135, Colombia 1, Croatia 12, Cyprus 6, Denmark 16, Egypt 7, Estonia 6, France 27, Germany 12, Greece 156, Guyana 7, Hong Kong 23, Iceland 1, India 11, Indonesia 3, Israel 2, Italy 19, Japan 1, Kenya 4, Latvia 5, Lebanon 9, Liberia 5, Lithuania 1, Malta 1, Man, Isle of 1, Marshall Islands 3, Mexico 1, Monaco 6, Netherlands 14, Netherlands Antilles 1, Nigeria 3, Norway 33, Pakistan 5, Panama 2, Poland 2, Portugal 2, Puerto Rico 2, Russia 8, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saudi Arabia 3, Singapore 4, Slovenia 7, South Korea 4, Spain 1, Sweden 6, Switzerland 10, Syria 2, Taiwan 1, Thailand 1, Trinidad and Tobago 1, Tunisia 1, Turkey 15, Ukraine 8, United Arab Emirates 45, United Kingdom 16, United States 25, Vietnam 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 6 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 5 914 to 1,523 m: 4 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Military Saint Vincent and the Grenadines -
Military branches: Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (includes Special Service Unit), Coast Guard Military expenditures - dollar $NA
figure: Military expenditures - percent of NA%
GDP: Transnational Issues Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe

* * *

Island nation, Windward Islands, in the eastern Caribbean.

It is composed of Saint Vincent island and the northern Grenadines. Area: 150 sq mi (388 sq km). Pop. (1997 est.): 112,000. Capital: Kingstown. Most of the population is of African descent. Languages: English (official), French patois. Religion: Protestantism. Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar. The islands are composed of volcanic rock. Thickly wooded volcanic mountains run north-south and are cut by many swift streams. Mount Soufrière (4,048 ft [1,234 m]), the highest of the mountains, has had devastating volcanic eruptions. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, and export crops include bananas and arrowroot. Tourism is also important. The nation is a constitutional monarchy with one legislative house; its chief of state is the British monarch represented by the governor-general, and the head of government is the prime minister. The French and the British contested for control of Saint Vincent until 1763, when it was ceded to England by the Treaty of Paris. The original inhabitants, the Caribs, recognized British sovereignty but revolted in 1795. Most of the Caribs were deported; many who remained were killed in volcanic eruptions in 1812 and 1902. In 1969 Saint Vincent became a self-governing state in association with the United Kingdom, and in 1979 it achieved full independence.

* * *

▪ 2009

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2008 est.): 106,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

      A Saint Vincent and the Grenadines High Court judge in March 2008 upheld the decision of the director of public prosecutions (DPP) not to proceed with rape and indecent assault charges against Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. Attorneys representing a 36-year-old policewoman said that they would appeal the ruling. In April another sexual-assault charge against Gonsalves, this one by a Vincentian woman living in Canada, was also dropped by the DPP.

      The government defended its decision in May to increase gasoline and other transportation fuel prices because the current level of subsidy ($600,000 a month) was “clearly unsustainable.” The prime minister in May condemned those critics who, he said, wanted to portray Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chávez as a “monster.” Gonsalves made the comment shortly after the arrival from Venezuela of millions of dollars worth of construction equipment for the new $200 million international airport in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Those “demonizing” Chávez, Gonsalves added, were not helping Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with the project. Gonsalves announced in July that another benefactor, Taiwan, would also help fund the airport.

David Renwick

▪ 2008

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 106,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

      Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in January 2007 launched what he described as a plan to develop a “postcolonial” economy in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Calling it Vision 20/20, he said that the plan would be a “road map” for growth, with improvements in education and health given top priority.

 In June Gonsalves rejected opposition claims that the current foreign policy of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was not in the best interest of the country. He stoutly defended the growing assistance provided by Cuba and Venezuela and accused the opposition of being afraid that his government's choice of countries for closer cooperation might “upset” the U.S. The prime minister stressed that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was also pursuing closer relations with Taiwan, Turkey, and Brazil and insisted that a small state had to take advantage of all opportunities for links with larger countries.

      That same month both Prime Minister Gonsalves and opposition leader Arnhim Eustace declared their support for the retention of the death penalty in the country, arguing that it acted as a deterrent to criminality. Gonsalves pointed out, however, that judgments of the London-based Privy Council, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' final court of appeal, had been making it “very difficult” to hang those convicted of murder.

David Renwick

▪ 2007

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 96,800
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

      The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves continued throughout 2006 to be one of Taiwan's strongest Caribbean supporters. This was rewarded in June with a $15 million grant and a $10 million soft loan for the construction of a long-desired international airport in Saint Vincent. Another $10 million was likely to be made available by Taiwan for the Youth Empowerment Service program.

      The IMF had complimentary words for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in August, following its annual review of the economy. The report described the near-term outlook as “broadly favorable” and predicted economic growth of more than 4% in 2006.

      In an address to the UN General Assembly in September, Gonsalves berated European nations “and their North American cousins” for failing to “acknowledge their roles” in the slave trade. He also noted the lack of any offer of “reparations to the affected nations.” Gonsalves rejected the U.K. government's “statement of regret” for the Atlantic slave trade because he felt that it fell short of a “full apology.”

      High Court Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle in September expressed concern over reports of the resurgence of police brutality, describing it as “this disgusting phenomenon.”

David Renwick

▪ 2006

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 119,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

      The IMF in April 2005 urged the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to accelerate the country's economic growth in order to lift income levels and reduce poverty. The IMF recommended such measures as improving investment attractiveness, encouraging remittances from the large overseas community of Vincentians, and providing better preparation for natural disasters, including hurricanes. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves reported in September that offshore exploration for oil would soon begin. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines also achieved its goal of universal high-school education in September. Gonsalves secured a second term in office on December 7 as his Unity Labour Party won 12 of the 15 seats in the House of Assembly.

      The country came under fire in June for its alleged sluggishness in tackling the transshipment of marijuana through its territory to other Caribbean islands. Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur insisted that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines could do far more to crack down on trafficking. Gonsalves maintained that Barbados should improve its own drug-monitoring mechanisms. Comments by police spokesmen in which they suggested that drug mules were more “opportunistic” than “criminal” in intent seemed to lend credence to Arthur's observations.

 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, after 24 years, remained one of only four insular Caribbean territories still aligned with Taiwan rather than mainland China. Taiwanese Pres. Chen Shui-bian visited the territory in September.

David Renwick

▪ 2005

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 113,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

      During 2004 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines continued to be an attractive location for international business companies (IBCs), which operated under generous tax incentives. By the end of April, according to an official count, 357 new IBCs had been registered in the country, compared with 194 in 2003.

      The country drew closer to Taiwan, even though this flew in the face of majority opinion among Caribbean states, most of which had long accepted Beijing as the legitimate government of China. In August–September a private-sector delegation visited Taiwan to drum up investment. The delegation also included representatives from National Investment Promotion Inc., an agency set up as a one-stop shop for direct foreign investment in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In October, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves traveled to Taipei to meet with Taiwanese Pres. Chen Shui-bian.

      Compared with other Caribbean territories such as Haiti, Jamaica, and Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was lucky to escape the worst of Hurricane Ivan's wrath in September. Houses, bridges, and roads did suffer some damage, however, and Prime Minister Gonsalves said he would ask the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank to assess the cost of reconstructing public assets.

David Renwick

▪ 2004

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 113,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was finally removed in June 2003 from the money-laundering blacklist drawn up by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced that the FATF was satisfied that the 25 conditions had been met to allow delisting. By midyear the names of all of the Caribbean countries had been removed from the list.

      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines found itself among five Caribbean states on an entirely different list in July; the group was cut off from U.S. military aid after it declined to exempt U.S. citizens from prosecution before the International Criminal Court. The cut in aid did not include U.S. assistance in such areas as economic development and anti-AIDS programs, however.

      Education Minister Mike Browne reported in August that the territory was likely to achieve its goal of free high-school education for all students by 2005—five years ahead of the target date.

      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, one of only three Caribbean states to recognize Taiwan rather than mainland China, solidified its relationship with Taiwan when Gonsalves visited the country in September. He came away with a promise of $27 million for a new cross-island highway.

David Renwick

▪ 2003

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 113,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governors-General Sir Charles Antrobus, Monica Dacon (acting) from June 3, and, from September 2, Frederick Ballantyne
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

      In February 2002 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, along with some of its fellow offshore centres, was removed from the blacklist of countries considered “uncooperative” in matters of tax investigation after it took steps that satisfied the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In May the parliament repealed the Confidential Relationships Preservation (International Finance) Act and replaced it with an act that allowed the sharing of information on suspect bank accounts with regulators in other countries.

      The country received a boost to its flagging tourism industry in midyear when American real-estate tycoon Donald Trump took over management of the $300 million Carenage Beach Resort on the Vincentian island of Canouan. The government expected that the Trump name would be a magnet for other investors.

      Kuwait agreed in June to provide $8 million in assistance for the expansion of the country's international airport. The soft loan was negotiated by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves during a visit to Kuwait.

      Governor-General Sir Charles Antrobus died in June while in Canada for treatment of leukemia. He was 69.

David Renwick

▪ 2002

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 113,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir David Jack
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Arnhim Eustace and, from March 29, Ralph Gonsalves

      The Unity Labour Party, led by left-wing firebrand Ralph Gonsalves, won the general election in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in March 2001, grabbing 12 of the 15 seats in the parliament and decisively ousting the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Prime Minister Arnhim Eustace, who only narrowly held on to his own seat.

      The election had not been constitutionally due until 2003, but Eustace agreed to move it up following antigovernment protests. The NDP had been in office since 1984. Gonsalves assumed several portfolios, including finance, economic development, labour, and Grenadine Affairs, as well as the prime ministership.

      The country's lack of strong legislative and supervisory systems for offshore financial institutions kept it on the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force's list of uncooperative states, even though the government promised to “rewrite” the entire package of laws governing offshore operations. The licenses of two offshore banks were revoked in June.

      St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed a “comprehensive cooperation accord” with Cuba in September, covering matters such as health, tourism, trade, and language training, following an official visit to Havana by Gonsalves. The prime minister had earlier raised eyebrows by going to Libya on a controversial trip from which other Caribbean leaders had withdrawn.

David Renwick

▪ 2001

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 113,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir David Jack
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell and, from October 27, Arnhim Eustace

      In April 2000 the House of Assembly's passage of a bill that would increase the pensions and gratuities of parliamentarians proved to be the spark that ignited an already tense political situation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Organisation in Defence of Democracy (ODD)—which brought together the official opposition Unity Labour Party, trade union leaders, businessmen, and youth groups—coordinated demonstrations and protests over several days in Kingstown, causing widespread commercial disruption.

      The opposition—which had been smarting ever since its loss in the June 1998 election, in which it attracted the majority of votes (55%) but won seven seats to the eight of the New Democratic Party (NDP)—used the controversial bill to vent its dissatisfaction with the NDP. As a result, an agreement was brokered by the Caribbean Community and Common Market at a meeting in Grenada between the ODD and the government of Prime Minister Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell, providing for an early election—in March 2001—two years before it was constitutionally mandated. Mitchell retired from the NDP presidency in August and was succeeded by Finance Minister Arnhim Eustace.

David Renwick

▪ 2000

Area:
389 sq km (150 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 113,000
Capital:
Kingstown
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir David Jack
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell

      Following its close defeat by the New Democratic Party in the June 1998 general election, the opposition Unity Labour Party of St. Vincent and the Grenadines entered 1999 with a new leader. Lawyer Ralph Gonsalves took over from Vincent Beache, who resigned.

      Despite strong objections by China, the government of Taiwan continued to extend its influence into the smaller Caribbean territories during the year and in September reaffirmed its intention to allocate $20 million in mixed grants and loans for an extension to the airport in St. Vincent. The airport was considered crucial to the island's tourism trade. The entire reconstruction program would cost between $50 million and $55 million and permit the use of long-haul jets for the first time.

      St. Vincent continued to be bedeviled by the problem of poor prison conditions in 1999. Following further disturbances at the main Kingstown penitentiary in July and August, the government appointed a commission of inquiry in September to examine the system of prison administration.

David Renwick

▪ 1999

      Area: 389 sq km (150 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 113,000

      Capital: Kingstown

      Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir David Jack

      Head of government: Prime Minister Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell

      In June 1998 the New Democratic Party (NDP), headed by Sir James Mitchell, narrowly won a fourth straight term in the general election. The NDP obtained 8 of the 15 House of Assembly seats, whereas the Unity Labour Party (ULP), led by Vincent Beache, won the other 7.

      The ULP, however, received 54.6% of the vote, compared with 45.3% for the NDP. The opposition objected to the election result, and Beache demanded that another poll be held within nine months. Opposition supporters scuffled with police and government ministers when the new House of Assembly first met in July.

      The NDP promised to cut taxes and planned to develop agriculture and tourism. Newly appointed Finance Minister Arnhim Eustace was regarded as a possible successor to Fitz-Allen, who said he would not contest another election.

      In September Fitz-Allen initiated talks with the opposition to reform the constitution. Although Beache welcomed the proposal, his conditions included publication of a previously unreleased report on constitutional change.

DAVID RENWICK

▪ 1998

      Area: 389 sq km (150 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 112,000

      Capital: Kingstown

      Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir David Jack

      Head of government: Prime Minister Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell

      In August 1997 a U.S. couple, James and Penella Fletcher, were freed on a charge of having murdered a St. Vincent boat-taxi operator when a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. The incident attracted intense attention from the U.S. media, which aroused the ire of the prime minister, Sir James Mitchell, when aspersions were cast on the efficiency of the country's legal system and the integrity of the government. Among the allegations made was that government officials had tried to extort money from the Fletchers.

      The House of Assembly in August passed legislation that provided for both a fine and a term of imprisonment for those found guilty of money laundering, which often was linked to drug trafficking in the Caribbean. The legislation also required banks to divulge information about suspect accounts to the police.

DAVID RENWICK

      This article updates Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

▪ 1997

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, St. Vincent and the Grenadines comprises the islands of St. Vincent and the northern Grenadines in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Area: 389 sq km (150 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 113,000. Cap.: Kingstown. Monetary unit: Eastern Caribbean dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a par value of EC$2.70 to U.S. $1 (free rate of EC$4.25 = £ 1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1996, Sir David Jack; prime minister, Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell.

      In 1996 St. Vincent and the Grenadines was among those Caribbean countries that signed agreements with the U.S. that allowed U.S. Coast Guard personnel to pursue suspected drug smugglers into their territorial waters. This cooperation was further strengthened in August with an extradition treaty that provided for a rapid transfer of drug lords to U.S. jurisdiction.

      (DAVID RENWICK)

      This article updates Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

▪ 1996

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, St. Vincent and the Grenadines comprises the islands of St. Vincent and the northern Grenadines in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Area: 389 sq km (150 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 112,000. Cap.: Kingstown. Monetary unit: Eastern Caribbean dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a par value of EC$2.70 to U.S. $1 (free rate of EC$4.27 = £ 1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1995, David Jack; prime minister, Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell.

      Hanging of convicted murderers was resumed in St. Vincent when three men went to the gallows in February 1995. An unofficial moratorium on hanging had been maintained for many years. Amnesty International condemned the move.

      In late February the government appointed a three-member commission to review the pay and working conditions of its 4,000 public employees. The union expressed unhappiness over the use of a tribunal to determine wages, rather than the normal collective bargaining process.

      The deputy prime minister and attorney general, Parnell Campbell, resigned from the government in September after being accused of "financial impropriety" by the opposition Unity Labour Party. Campbell admitted borrowing U.S. $83,591 from an offshore bank operating in St. Vincent and experiencing difficulty in repaying the loan. He remained in the House of Assembly as a backbencher.

      Prime Minister James Mitchell, who was knighted in January, declared in October that his plans for retirement from politics before the next election had been shelved in the "national" interest. (DAVID RENWICK)

      This updates the article Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

▪ 1995

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, St. Vincent and the Grenadines comprises the islands of St. Vincent and the northern Grenadines in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Area: 389 sq km (150 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 110,000. Cap.: Kingstown. Monetary unit: Eastern Caribbean dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a par value of EC$2.70 to U.S. $1 (free rate of EC$4.30 = £ 1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1994, David Jack; prime minister, James Fitz-Allen Mitchell.

      A preelection budget for 1994 promised EC$263.6 million in government spending. Income tax reductions amounting to more than EC$4 million were also announced.

      A national election was called in February, earlier than constitutionally due, and the New Democratic Party (NDP), headed by Prime Minister James Mitchell, retained its hold on office but with a reduced majority. It won 12 of the 15 seats in the House of Assembly; the other 3 went to a coalition of opposition groups (the Movement for National Unity and the Saint Vincent Labour Party) led by Vincent Beache, who became official opposition leader in the Assembly. The election was marred by polling-eve clashes between supporters of both sides, during which more than 60 people were injured and a young NDP supporter died after being hit on the head with a stone.

      The NDP government survived a no-confidence motion brought by the opposition in August, accusing it of failing to tackle economic problems, including a production decline in the banana industry. The decline to which the motion referred was evident during the first half of 1994, when banana exports dropped to 17,000 tons, compared with 30,000 tons in 1993.

      Kuwait, OPEC, and the European Investment Bank agreed in July to help fund a new berth for cruise ships and to extend ferry facilities at the Kingstown port. The cost would be about $15 million. (DAVID RENWICK)

      This updates the article Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

▪ 1994

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, St. Vincent and the Grenadines comprises the islands of St. Vincent and the northern Grenadines in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Area: 389 sq km (150 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 109,000. Cap.: Kingstown. Monetary unit: Eastern Caribbean dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a par value of EC$2.70 to U.S. $1 (free rate of EC$4.10 = £ 1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1993, David Jack; prime minister, James Fitz-Allen Mitchell.

      A major development program on Union Island in the Grenadines, expected to cost U.S. $100 million, was announced in March 1993. It involved the construction of a luxury hotel, a 300-berth marina, and a number of private villas. Prime Minister James Mitchell brushed aside protests over the government's decision to grant 99-year leases to investors in beachfront property. He insisted that the uncertainty over the future of the country's chief export, bananas, in the European Community left little alternative to the encouragement of tourism and property investment. St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the recipient of a U.S. $3.3 million loan from the Kuwaiti Investment Fund in June for the purchase of a generator for the St. Vincent Electricity Services.

      The Criminal Procedure Code Act was amended by the House of Assembly in August. It raised the minimum age for application of the death penalty from 16 to 18. The government still had no plans to abolish the death penalty, however, despite pressure from international human rights organizations. (DAVID RENWICK)

      This updates the article Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

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▪ islands, West Indies
Introduction
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, flag of    island country lying within the Lesser Antilles, in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It consists of the island of Saint Vincent and the northern Grenadine Islands (Grenadines), which stretch southward toward Grenada. The island of Saint Vincent lies about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Saint Lucia and 100 miles (160 km) west of Barbados. It is 18 miles long (30 km) and has a maximum width of 11 miles (18 km). The larger islands of the Grenadines associated with Saint Vincent are Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Mustique, Prune (Palm) Island, Petit Saint Vincent Island, and Union Island. The Tobago Cays, just to the east of Mayreau, have been designated a wildlife reserve. The name Saint Vincent originally applied to the mainland and the group of smaller islands associated with it. After the attainment of independence in 1979 the multi-island state was renamed Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The capital and major port is Kingstown, on Saint Vincent. The country is a member of the Commonwealth.

Relief, soils, and drainage
      The island of Saint Vincent has thickly wooded volcanic mountains running north-south and many short swift streams. Though numerous, the streams are small except after heavy rains. There are no navigable rivers. The island's two highest peaks are both on the volcano Soufrière (4,048 feet [1,234 metres] and 3,864 feet [1,178 metres]), in the north, which erupted disastrously in 1812 and 1902, seriously affecting the country's agriculture and temporarily displacing residents of communities around the foothills of the volcano. The 1902 eruption coincided with that of Mount Pelée (Pelée, Mount) on Martinique. Soufrière became active again in 1979, repeating the cycle of agricultural damage and massive evacuation. The volcanic ash, which spread as far as Barbados, is said to have enhanced the fertility of the soil. Other noteworthy peaks on the island include Grand Bonhomme and Mount St. Andrew.

      The soil of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is very fertile and permits the easy cultivation of a variety of vegetables and fruits as well as arrowroot, which is no longer a major crop but is still grown in the northeastern part of the main island. Vegetation is varied, and there are a number of plants of striking brilliance, including hibiscus and poinsettia. Cultivated land spreads out below the forest zone, and in some areas terraces protect against erosion. Birdlife on the island is especially rich.

Climate
      Saint Vincent lies in the path of the northeast trade winds and has a tropical maritime climate. Rainfall and temperature vary with elevation. Average annual rainfall ranges from about 60 inches (1,500 mm) on the coast to 150 inches (3,800 mm) in the central mountains. More-moderate amounts fall on the coastal area, which annually receives about 60 to 80 inches (1,500 to 2,000 mm). Heavier amounts fall on the windward (eastern) side of the island. The temperature at Kingstown averages between the mid-60s and about 90 °F (between about 18 and 32 °C). Tropical cyclones (hurricanes) occasionally pass across or near the island; it suffered notably severe ones in 1780 and 1898, and less-severe but still destructive ones in 1955 and 1980. The dry season on Saint Vincent lasts from January to May; the rains start in June and continue until the end of the year.

 Some two-thirds of the inhabitants are descended from Africans who were enslaved and brought to work on the sugar plantations; another one-fourth of the population is of mixed African-European ancestry. There are small minorities of people of South Asian, European, Carib, and mixed African and Carib descent; the latter are known as the Garifuna. English is the official language. An English patois is commonly spoken and referred to in some academic quarters as “nation language” (that is, a postcolonial version of a language that was imposed by colonizers—in this case, English—that incorporates underground language codes from formerly suppressed languages, in this case the African languages of the slaves).

      Despite a rapid increase in the number of Pentecostals and declining numbers of Anglicans, Methodists, and Roman Catholics, the latter three are still regarded as the established religions. The Spiritual Baptist, or Shaker (as it was known in Saint Vincent), church, a syncretic Protestant-African faith, was banned from 1912 to the 1960s; in the late 20th century the church began a significant resurgence. There are also branches of North American Evangelical churches, and there are smaller numbers of Hindus and Muslims.

      Life expectancy is about 70 years for males and in the mid-70s for females. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines once had one of the highest birth rates in the West Indies. That figure declined drastically in the late 20th century, however, largely as the result of government family-planning efforts, and by the early 21st century it was roughly equivalent to the West Indian average. The rate of natural increase declined likewise over the same period. The country has a high rate of emigration.

Economy

Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
      The economy of Saint Vincent is chiefly agricultural. The country is one of the world's few producers of arrowroot, despite a major decline in the industry. Saint Vincent was once the greatest exporter of it. Cotton and sugarcane were formerly important to the economy, but, since the second half of the 20th century, bananas have been the leading export, and cotton is no longer grown. Other important crops include sweet potatoes, plantains, yams, coconuts, and dasheens and eddoes (types of taro). Rice and flour are milled from imported white-cargo or rice and wheat. All these agricultural products are used locally and exported to neighbouring Caribbean countries. The interior of the island of Saint Vincent is still forested, though there is significant encroachment on the woodland. There is a growing fishing industry, both offshore and inland, that produces for local consumption as well as for export to other Caribbean islands and to the United States, particularly to locations on the Eastern seaboard, such as Miami and New York City. Lobster, conch, tuna, and swordfish are the main seafoods exported.

Manufacturing and trade
      Manufacturing is of minor economic importance. There is some focus, however, on light manufacturing, on the milling of rice and flour, and on the production of beer. There are also plants for distilling rum, building yachts, and making boxes for locally produced beer and the packing of bananas.

      The major imports are machinery and transport equipment, food and beverages, chemicals, and fuels, coming primarily from the United States and the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) countries, especially Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. The main exports are bananas, packaged flour and rice, and root crops such as dasheens and eddoes. The country's main export destinations are the Caricom countries (particularly Barbados, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago), the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Tourism
 Tourism has assumed a significant role in the economy, especially with the greater accessibility of the Grenadines through the airports established throughout the islands and the use of larger and more modern boats. Noted for their coral reefs and fine beaches, the Grenadines serve as the focus of the country's tourism sector. They are particularly favoured by those interested in yachting and sport fishing and lend themselves to Caribbean tourism's traditional emphasis on sun, sea, and sand. One of the Grenadines, the island of Mustique, is privately owned by a consortium of landowners, many of whom rent their property to vacationers. Ecotourism is being encouraged on the main island, Saint Vincent.

Transportation
      The major airport is at Arnos Vale, southeast of Kingstown. Several of the Grenadines also have airstrips. Kingstown has a deepwater port and a cruise-ship berth. Transport on the island of Saint Vincent is adequate. A road network runs along most of the coast from Chateaubelair in the northwest, down to the south coast, and back up to Fancy on the northeastern side of the island. The area on the western side from Fancy to Chateaubelair is extremely rocky, and the roughness of the terrain has prevented the completion of the road network around the island. A series of feeder roads were built from the coastal area inland to facilitate the movement of agricultural products to the markets and to serve numerous inland communities.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. The British monarch is the head of state and is represented by an appointed governor-general. A prime minister, the leader of the majority party, is the head of government. The unicameral legislature is the House of Assembly. It is composed of 15 members (called representatives) elected to five-year terms by universal adult suffrage, along with six nonelected members (called senators) who are appointed by the governor-general—four on the advice of the prime minister and two on the advice of the leader of the opposition. Another seat in the assembly is reserved for the attorney general.

Justice
      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' court system consists of a lower and an upper judiciary. The lower courts include magistrates' and family courts; the High Court and the Court of Appeal form the upper level. Saint Vincent retains its connection with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. This consists of an appeals court and a high court, while the final court of appeal remains the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

Education, health, and welfare
      Primary education is free but not compulsory. Most primary schools are administered by the government, and a small number are private. Secondary education begins at age 11. Most secondary schools are government controlled, with a few run by the Catholic and Anglican religious organizations with government assistance. Other educational institutions include technical and vocational schools, a school for children with special needs, and Saint Vincent Community College, which provides nursing and teacher training among other subjects. The University of the West Indies Open Campus has a location in Saint Vincent.

      Government health initiatives are directed primarily against chronic diseases, including diabetes and hypertension. For children, the focus of attention is on immunization against diseases such as polio and measles. Combating obesity and asthma in children is increasingly a priority. HIV/AIDS receives great attention from the health authorities, and domestic violence is a growing area of concern. The country has a main public general hospital, several smaller public and private hospitals, and a number of outpatient health centres.

Cultural life
      Carnival is the major cultural event. The Nine Mornings Festival takes place in Kingstown in the nine mornings preceding Christmas. While traditionally it consisted of early-morning street parades accompanied by caroling, bicycle races, and other festivities, the focus now in Kingstown is on early-morning street concerts. In the rural areas, celebrations of this festival are more diverse and include attempts to revive dying cultural practices. Some of the Grenadine Islands have annual regattas that include carnival-type activities.

      Kingstown has a number of cultural heritage sites. They include the Botanic Gardens (founded in 1765) and Fort Charlotte (1806); of architectural interest is the Georgian-style St. George's (Anglican) Cathedral. Other 18th- and 19th-century buildings include the courthouse and the House of Assembly, which occupy the same building, and the police barracks.

      Traditional cultural practices such as tea meetings (ceremonial speech and singing demonstrations) are occasionally held, and there has been some emphasis put on dance, drama, and music festivals. calypso, soca (which blends traditional calypso and Indian rhythmic instruments), and Jamaican dancehall (dancehall music) and reggae music tend to dominate the country's music charts.

      The rise of individualism, economic independence, and migration have led to a decrease in the importance of the extended family. Women are increasingly involved in economic, political, and cultural life to a greater degree than was the case traditionally. Men and women have equal status under the law, and a government department of gender affairs is concerned with issues including gender equality and equal access to social, political, economic, and educational opportunities.

      With globalization (globalization, cultural), the demand for foreign foods has increased, and these are widely available in supermarkets. Growing awareness and concerns about health and nutrition are beginning to lead to a greater emphasis on local foods for consumption, however. The country's markets are usually well stocked with fruits and vegetables. The national dish is roasted breadfruit and fried jackfish (jack); the fish are commonly caught locally, and breadfruit have been present on the island of Saint Vincent since 1793, when they were brought by Capt. William Bligh (Bligh, William), the former commander of HMS Bounty.

Sports and recreation
      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are internationally renowned for the clarity and calm of their offshore leeward waters, which have lured countless yachtsmen, sailors, surfers, and scuba divers to the islands.

      Native Vincentians, however, favour land-based sports, especially cricket. The Arnos Vale Sports Complex, in Kingstown, has become a popular venue for one-day international cricket matches. Over the years, Vincentian cricketers have represented the West Indies in international cricket tournaments and have played professionally in England. Vincentians are equally fond of football (soccer); the national team has played in the Caribbean Cup and the Gold Cup world competition. The sport of netball has also produced a number of strong Vincentian national teams. Basketball and women's cricket and football are gaining popularity.

      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines made its first appearance at the Olympics at the 1988 Seoul Games. Vincentian athletes compete and place regularly in the quadrennial Commonwealth Games.

Media and publishing
      The government runs a free public library system. Several weekly newspapers are published. Cable television service provides programs mainly from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and from North America. Local radio and television programming is provided by a government-owned broadcasting company in the capital. There are a number of private radio stations, including one affiliated with a political party and another that broadcasts religious programs.

Colonization
      Before the time of European contact, Saint Vincent was first inhabited by the Ciboney, who were joined and eventually displaced or conquered by an Arawak people who had originated in Venezuela and settled the West Indies. About a century before the arrival of European explorers, the Arawak were themselves displaced by another group, the Carib, who originated from South America.

      It was formerly thought that Christopher Columbus (Columbus, Christopher) first visited the island and named it Saint Vincent on Jan. 22, 1498, a day that used to be celebrated as “Discovery Day.” It is now known that Columbus was still in Spain on that day, and there is no evidence to suggest that he ever visited Saint Vincent.

      In the 17th century a group of so-called “Black Caribs,” also known as the Garifuna, was formed from intermarriage between the indigenous Caribs and more-recent African arrivals. The Africans were mainly slaves who had escaped from plantations in Barbados or were taken from raids on European plantations; other Africans came from a party of slaves who were shipwrecked in the Grenadines in either 1635 or 1673 (both dates are frequently given) and eventually reached the Saint Vincent mainland.

      The Caribs resisted frequent British, French, and Dutch attempts to settle in Saint Vincent, but they eventually allowed limited French settlement of the island's west coast in the early 18th century. This move was likely aimed at gaining French support against the more aggressive English. In 1763, with the Treaty of Paris (Paris, Treaty of), Britain was granted control of Saint Vincent and settlement proceeded, although the Caribs refused to accept British sovereignty. In 1779 the island was seized by the French, but in 1783 it was restored to Britain under the Treaty of Versailles. The Caribs' ongoing resistance to British presence led to two wars (1772–73 and 1795–96); the Caribs were exiled following the second. Most were deported to an island off the coast of Honduras, from which they later migrated to Belize and other areas along the Atlantic coast of Central America. Those who remained sought refuge in the interior of the island until an act of the colonial legislature in 1805 pardoned them for their rebellion, which had been deemed treasonous.

      Following the conquest of the Caribs, the British government took full control of the country. After the Treaty of Paris of 1763, Saint Vincent had become part of an administrative union known as the Windward Islands. The union comprised the islands of Grenada, Saint Vincent, Dominica, Tobago, and the Grenadines; they shared a common representative assembly and a seat of administration in Grenada. This union soon collapsed, and the islands were given separate representative assemblies. In 1791 the islands of the Grenadines were partitioned between Grenada and Saint Vincent, with Saint Vincent having administrative control over the ones to the north; these were closer to Saint Vincent and therefore could more effectively be administered by it. This system of administration lasted until 1877. It was replaced by a crown colony system in which a governor and a nominated council administered the islands on behalf of the British crown.

      A plantation economy grew, producing sugar, cotton, coffee, and cocoa with the use of the labour of enslaved Africans. The emancipation of the slaves in 1834 increased the bargaining power of the former slaves and reduced the planters' total control; Portuguese and South Asian labourers were introduced later in the century to increase competition and weaken the position of the emancipated people in the labour market.

      In the latter half of the 19th century, sugar prices fell, plunging the island into a depression that lasted through the end of the century. The hurricane of 1898 and the eruption of Soufrière in 1902 were especially damaging to agriculture, hindering economic recovery, and virtually signaled the end of the sugar industry. Sugar was replaced as the major crop by arrowroot and Sea Island cotton, which remained the dominant export crops until their place was taken by bananas in the 1950s.

      The 20th century was dominated by a struggle to replace the crown colony system of government by a representative system. A legislative council was established in 1925, but the franchise was limited and the majority of descendants of slaves were kept out of the process. Efforts to extend the franchise and to get further constitutional reform culminated in a federation of the islands. Riots in the mid-1930s, sparked by fallout from the Great Depression, paved the way for further constitutional reform that reached a climax in 1951, when universal adult suffrage was introduced. Saint Vincent also joined the West Indies Federation, which existed from 1958 to 1962. A new constitution was adopted in 1960. Saint Vincent became a state in association with the United Kingdom on Oct. 27, 1969; it had become a member of the Caribbean Free Trade Area on July 1, 1968. It joined the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) in 1973 and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States in 1981.

Independence
 After the collapse of the West Indies Federation in 1962, efforts began that were aimed at creating political union among different groupings of the federation's former members, but the efforts did not bear fruit. Most of the islands sought independence individually. Independence for Saint Vincent was achieved on Oct. 27, 1979. Shortly thereafter, the political entity became known officially as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The new government was formed as a constitutional monarchy and became a member of the Commonwealth. The country held its first elections in December of that year. The Saint Vincent Labour Party, the ruling party of the time, won the elections, and its leader, Milton Cato, became the first prime minister of the independent country. Cato, a Caribbean nationalist, favoured closer links with the relatively centrist governments of Trinidad and Tobago and of Barbados.

      In 1979 the Soufrière volcano erupted once again, damaging agriculture and the tourist trade. The banana industry was seriously damaged by Hurricane Allen in 1980. Recession in the United States and the falling value of the pound sterling against the dollar further lowered tourist visits and exports of bananas during the early 1980s.

      In July 1984 the New Democratic Party, under James Mitchell, won the general elections. Mitchell began a program of reorganizing agriculture and of lowering unemployment by encouraging the construction industry and facilitating land settlement among landless agricultural workers. Mitchell's party won the next several elections. He remained in office until his retirement from the presidency in August 2000 and was succeeded by Arnhim Eustace. A general election was called for March 2001; the left-wing Unity Labour Party won a decisive majority, and its leader, Ralph Gonsalves, became prime minister.

      The people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, like other people of the Commonwealth Caribbean, still see the deepening of the integration movement as one of their goals. In the early 21st century the various countries were concerned with the creation of a Caribbean single market and economy, and a subgrouping of members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States sought to establish an economic union. Since independence, many attempts have been made to form a political union, including, in the early years of the 21st century, one seeking to link Saint Vincent and some of the other eastern Caribbean states with Trinidad and Tobago.

Richard Tolson David Lawrence Niddrie Adrian Fraser

Additional Reading
Lesley Sutty, St.Vincent and the Grenadines: An Introduction and Guide, 2nd ed. (1997), is a useful travel guide. I.E. Kirby and C.I. Martin, The Rise and Fall of the Black Caribs, 4th ed. (2004), attempts to view the history of the early inhabitants from a Vincentian point of view. Samuel M. Wilson (ed.), The Indigenous People of the Caribbean (1997), is a collection of articles by a distinguished group of linguists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians. John Edward Adams, “Union Island, West Indies: An Historical and Geographic Sketch,” Caribbean Studies, vol. 18, nos. 3 and 4 (October 1978 and January 1979), describes one of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Coleridge Harris, “The Constitutional History of the Windwards,” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 6, nos. 2 and 3 (May 1960), discusses the constitutional development of the Windward Islands.James F. Mitchell, Caribbean Crusade (1989), and Guiding Change in the Islands (1996), are collections of speeches by the former prime minister. Ralph E. Gonsalves, History and the Future: A Caribbean Perspective (1994), is a sketch of the country's future as envisioned by the leader of the Unity Labour Party and future prime minister. Sir Rupert John, Pioneers in Nation-Building in a Caribbean Mini-State (1979), describes persons the author considers to be nation builders. Adrian Fraser, Chatoyer (Chatawae): First National Hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (2002), commemorates the formal declaration of the Carib chief as a national hero. Karl John, Land Reform in Small Island Developing States: A Case Study on St. Vincent, West Indies: 1890–2000 (2006), examines the government policies that guided the transition of Saint Vincent's landownership system from plantations into holdings by individual farmers.Statistical Office, Digest of Statistics (annual), covers the major areas of life in Saint Vincent. Other annual reports are published by the ministries of tourism and agriculture. Publications of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, headquartered in Saint Kitts, and the Caribbean Development Bank, in Barbados, include financial and economic coverage of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.Adrian Fraser

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Universalium. 2010.

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