Saint Vincent (island)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2013)|
|Native name: Yurumei or Hairouna|
Caribbean Sea on the West CoastAtlantic Ocean on the East Coast.
|Area||345 km2 (133.2 sq mi)|
|Length||18 mi (29 km)|
|Width||11 mi (18 km)|
|Highest point||La Soufrière
4048 ft (1234 m)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
|Largest city||Kingstown (pop. 25,418)|
|Population||100,000 (as of 2012)|
|Density||347.83 /km2 (900.88 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Black 66%, East Indian 6%, Carib people 2%, Mixed Race 19%, White 4%, Other 3%.|
Saint Vincent is a volcanic island in the Caribbean. It is the largest island of the country Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, between Saint Lucia and Grenada. It is composed of partially submerged volcanic mountains. Its largest volcano and the country's highest peak, La Soufrière, is active having last erupted in 1979
The territory was disputed between France and the United Kingdom in the 18th century, before being ceded to the British in 1763 and again in 1783. It gained independence on October 27, 1979. Approximately 100,000 people live on the island. Kingstown (population 25,418) is the chief town. The rest of the population is dispersed along the coastal strip, which includes the other five main towns of Layou, Barrouallie, Chateaubelair, Georgetown, and Calliaqua.
The people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are called Vincentians, or colloquially Vincies. There are also a few white descendants of English and French colonists, as well as a significant number of Indo-Vincentians, descendants of indentured workers with Indian heritage and there is a sizable minority of mixed race (19%).
Adult literacy was 88.1% in 2004. Infant mortality in 2006 was 17 per 1,000 live births and life expectancy for men stood at 69 years, with 74 years for women. The active workforce in 2006 was 57,695 and unemployment in 2004 was 12%.
Before 1498, it had been called Hairouna by the Caribs. Columbus named the island Saint Vincent, since it was discovered on 22 January, the feast day of the patron saint of Portugal, Vincent of Saragossa. However, some Vincentians[who?] speculate that this date is wrong because Columbus was nowhere near this island at the time.
Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors largely 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. Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century. African slaves, whether shipwrecked or escaped from St. Lucia or Grenada and seeking refuge in St. Vincent, intermarried with the Caribs and became known as "black Caribs". Now those of mixed African-Carib ancestry are known as Garifuna.
While the English were the first to lay claim to St. Vincent in 1627, the French centered on the island of Martinique 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 ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris (1763), after which friction between the British and the Caribs led to the First Carib War. The island was restored to French rule in 1779 and regained by the British under the Treaty of Versailles (1783).
Conflict between the British and the black Caribs continued until 1796, when General Abercrombie crushed a revolt fomented by the French radical Victor Hugues. The British deported more than 5,000 black Caribs to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras.
From 1763 until independence, St. Vincent passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorized in 1776. Decades after the success of the Haitian Revolution, the British abolished slavery in 1834. The resulting labour shortages on the plantations attracted Portuguese immigrants in the 1840s and East Indians in the 1860s as laborers. 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 20th century.
A Crown Colony government was installed in 1877, a Legislative Council created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage granted in 1951. During this period, the British made several unsuccessful attempts to affiliate St. Vincent with other Windward Islands in order to govern the region through a unified administration. The most notable was the West Indies Federation, which collapsed in 1962.
Self-rule and independence
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.
The island of Saint Vincent is 18 miles long and 11 miles wide and is located 100 miles west of Barbados. It is dominated by the 4,048-foot-high active volcano La Soufriere, which erupted violently in 1812 and 1902. The most recent eruption was on April 13, 1979, falling on the Christian Good Friday. The island is very mountainous and well-forested. Saint Vincent island belongs to the Lesser Antilles chain. The island has a total surface area of 344km², or about 88% of the total country area, 19 times that of the country's second largest island Bequia, and the coasts measure about 84km, The island is tropical humid, with an average of between 18 and 31 °C depending on the altitude.
Saint Vincent island is one of the few places on Earth that can boast having black-sand as well as white-sand beaches in the same country. More than 95% of the beaches on the mainland have black sand, while most of the beaches in the Grenadines have white sand.
For many years[when?] the black sand was used in the building industry. During recent times, because of destruction to the coastal areas, the government has restricted the amount of sand that may be removed from beaches, as well as the specific beaches from which sand may be removed. The sand is still used in construction of pitched roads, as it blends in with the colour of the asphalt used for road construction.
Government and politics
The executive branch of government includes the Governor General, representing the head of state Elizabeth II, the prime minister who is the head of government, and the cabinet. The 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 constiuencies 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 political parties with parliamentary representation are the New Democratic Party NDP and the Unity Labour Party (ULP).
Popular culture events
In 2002, Saint Vincent was one of the filming location for the American adventure fantasy film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Filming took place from October 2002 through to March 2003 and several hundreds of the local inhabitants were hired as cast members.
- Rogozinski, Jan (1999). A Brief History of the Caribbean (Revised ed.). New York: Facts on File, Inc. pp. 358–359. ISBN 0-8160-3811-2.
- "Saint Vincent and the Grenadines". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- Rogozinski, January 2000. A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and Carib to the Present. Plume, New York, New York.
- "The Making of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (1/4)". redmorgankidd. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
- U.S. Department of State profile
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines / San Vicente y Las Granadinas Constitution of 1979