History of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Capital : Kingstown
Official language(s) : English
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an independent state with a stable, democratic government. Formerly part of the British colony of the Windward Islands from 1871 to 1969, it became a British Associated State for 10 years prior to full independence in 1979. The governmental system is based on the British system. English, with a unique Vincentian / British accent is spoken throughout the islands. Before 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 peoples. These groups likely originated in the Orinoco Valley of South America and migrated north through Trinidad and the Lesser Antilles. By the time Christopher Columbus passed near St. Vincent on his fourth voyage in 1502, the Caribs occupied the island after displacing the Arawaks a few centuries earlier.
Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors ignored St. Vincent and the smaller Grenadine islands nearby, but focused instead on the pursuit of gold and silver in Central and South America. They did embark on slaving expeditions in and around St. Vincent following royal sanction in 1511, driving the Carib inhabitants to the rugged interior, but the Spanish made no attempt to settle the island. The English were the first to lay claim to St. Vincent in 1627, the French would be the first European settlers on the island when they established their first colony at Barrouallie on the Leeward side of St. Vincent in 1719. The French settlers cultivated coffee, tobacco, indigo, corn, and sugar on plantations worked by African slaves.
St. Vincent was granted associate statehood status on October 27, 1969, giving it complete control over its internal affairs. Following a referendum in 1979, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence. It celebrates independence on 27 October 1979.
St. Vincent, chief island of the chain, is 18 mi (29 km) long and 11 mi (18 km) wide and is located 100 mi (161 km) west of Barbados. The island is mountainous and well forested. St. Vincent is dominated by the volcano Mount Soufrière, which rises to 4,048 ft (1,234 m). The Grenadines, a chain of nearly 600 islets with a total area of only 17 sq mi (27 sq km), extend for 60 mi (96 km) between St. Vincent and Grenada. The main islands in the Grenadines are Bequia, Balliceau, Canouan, Mayreau, Mustique, Isle D'Quatre, Petit Saint Vincent, and Union Island.