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The Americas

Caribbean Islands

 

Modern Grenada (Lesser Antilles)
AD 1957 - Present Day
Incorporating Heads of State (1957-2022), British Colony (1957-1967), Associated State (1967-1974), & Independent Constitutional Monarchy (1974-On)

The island state of Grenada sits in the Caribbean region of the Americas, at the southern end of the Windward Islands which themselves are part of the Lesser Antilles chain. The state consists of the main island of Grenada itself, plus a number of tiny surrounding islands and also the southern Grenadines, while the northern Grenadines belong to St Vincent and the Grenadines. It lies to the south of St Vincent, to the north-west of Trinidad & Tobago, and to the north of Venezuela. To the east is the North Atlantic Ocean, while to the west is the wide sweep of the Caribbean Sea.

The origin of the name Grenada is obscure. The island is also referred to as the 'Spice Isle' or 'Isle of Spice' for its production of nutmeg and mace. It and its associated islands were formed about two million years ago by an underwater volcano, which was triggered during the clash between the Atlantic crustal plate and the Caribbean tectonic plate.

Three tribes of Arawaks - the Calvignoid, Galibi, and Souazoids - arrived in Grenada from South America around 1000 BC. Caribs from South America, who reached Grenada around AD 1400, drove off the original Arawak inhabitants, and subsequently referred to the island as Camerhogue. The new arrivals continued to dominate for a century and-a-half after the Europeans first visited. Indeed, in 1609, when English merchants first attempted to settle there, the Caribs expelled them.

The first European to sight Grenada was Christopher Columbus, on behalf of what was on the verge of becoming a Spanish empire. This was in 1498, during his third voyage to the West Indies. Without making landfall there he named the island Concepción. Two years later, the Spanish renamed it Mayo as they drew it within the growing Spanish Colonies.

It was purchased in 1649 by the French governor of Martinique, from a French company, after which a colony was established. Following vigorous resistance, the French finally defeated the Caribs in 1651 in a battle at Le Morne de Sauteru on the northern part of the island. Many Caribs threw themselves off a cliff on what is now called Leaper's Hill. The French removed the remaining Caribs and introduced African slaves for the growing of sugarcane.

Hanoverian Britain took control in In 1762, continuing the importation of slaves. Nevertheless, the plantation system was diminished with the introduction of cocoa, which favoured the development of smaller landholdings. France briefly reoccupied Grenada in 1779, but the island was permanently awarded to Great Britain by the second Treaty of Paris in 1783, which also confirmed the independence of the United States. A French planter in Martinique, being inspired by the anti-slavery fervour of the French Revolution, led a rebellion against British rule in Grenada between 1795-1796. The rebels were crushed, but not before they massacred a number of Britons, including the lieutenant-governor.

Britain established a colony of the Windward Islands in 1833 which included Grenada, along with most of the other British Windward possessions. The Windward Islands colony went through various reorganisations until it was disbanded in 1960. This paved the way for eventual legislative independence, first as an 'Associated State' and then as an 'Independent Constitutional Monarchy', while the island remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The country has a democratic parliamentary form of government on the British style. The monarch of the UK remains head of state, represented locally by a governor-general. A prime minister heads the government. The bicameral legislative body consists of an elected 'House of Representatives' and an appointed senate.

Agriculture and tourism are the most important industries. Grenada also used to receive considerable financial support from the United Kingdom. Today it produces over forty percent of the world's supply of nutmeg. Indeed, nutmeg is so important that a styled representation of the nutmeg kernel is displayed on the country's flag. Most of Grenada's population is black, descended from African slaves, with descended minorities from eastern India or of indentured servants, along with French and British settlers and more recent arrivals from North America and Europe. Over fifty percent are Protestant, about a third are Roman Catholic, and a small but important percentage are Rastafarians and Jehovah's Witnesses.

The full list of islands which make up the Lesser Antilles chain includes Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Redonda, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago.


Caribbean Islands

(Information by John De Cleene, with additional information from The Times Atlas of World History, Geoffrey Barraclough (Ed, Hammond Inc, 1979), and from External Links: Cariacou.biz, and Government of Grenada, and Grenada (Encyclopaedia Britannica), and Grenada (Rulers.org), and Granada (Zárate's Political Collections).

1957 - 1962

James Monteith Lloyd

UK administrator.

1962 - 1964

Lionel Achille Pinard

UK administrator.

1964 - 1968

Sir Ian Turbott

UK administrator. Knighted and made governor for 1967.

1967

Grenada becomes an 'Associated State' with the United Kingdom, achieving internal self-government. The United Kingdom continues to control the country's foreign affairs and defence.

Grenada's Underwater Sculpture Park
This 'Ring of Statues' in Grenada's Underwater Sculpture Park was created in 2006, following Hurricane Ivan, by British 'eco-artist' Jason de Caires Taylor, being located in the Molinere-Beauséjour Marine Reserve in Grenada

Eric Gairy, a trade unionist and head of the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) takes over the process of governing from the Grenada National Party (GNP). He will head the government, becoming the country's first prime minister in 1974, until he is overthrown in 1979.

1968 - 1974

Dame Hilda Bynoe

First female UK governor.

1974

On 7 February 1974, Grenada becomes an 'Independent Constitutional Monarchy' with the monarch of the United Kingdom as the head of state, represented in Grenada by a governor-general. Independence is followed by violence, instability, and controversy, and there is disillusionment with Eric Gairy's government which has presided over economic decline.

1974 - 1978

Sir Leo de Gale

UK governor (and first governor-general in 1974).

1978 - 1992

Sir Paul Scoon

Governor-general, but powerless for periods.

1979

The Marxist-leaning Maurice Bishop deposes Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy while Gairy is out of the country. Bishop takes over as prime minister and imposes a dictatorship. He receives substantial support from communist Cuba but he does lead the country towards substantial economic improvement.

Nikita Kruschev and John F Kennedy
Photographed together here, John F Kennedy and Nikita Kruschev had, in 1962, played the world's biggest game of brinkmanship as the USA and Soviet Union vied for supremacy, centred around Cuba

1979 - 1983

Maurice Bishop

Dictator. Overthrown and assassinated.

1983

The United States in particular fears the establishment of another communist government in the Caribbean. On 14 October 1983, rivals of Maurice Bishop in the communist 'New Jewel Movement' overthrow him, being led by General Hudson Austin. Bishop is assassinated on 19 October 1983.

1983

Hudson Austin

Army general. Dictator. Overthrown.

1984

The military coup and its threat to American nationals provides the pretext which the United States needs to lead a coalition of West Indian countries in an invasion which overthrows Austin's government.

Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon assumes the position of head of government until a provisional administration can be established. Democracy is restored, and the provisional administration is established in December 1984.

Herbert Balise, who had led the country in the 1960s, now becomes prime minister as leader of the New National Party (NNP). Tourism, however, does not easily rebound.

US invasion of Grenada in 1984
Two US soldiers hold three suspected members of the People's Revolutionary Army at gunpoint in St George's, Grenada, during the Grenada Invasion of 1984 to restore democracy to the island upon the orders of President Ronald Reagan

1992 - 1996

Sir Reginald Palmer

Governor-general.

1996 - 2008

Sir Daniel Williams

Governor-general.

1997

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of the NNP visits Fidel Casto, president of Cuba, thereby creating controversy and drawing the fire of the Democratic Labour Party. Nevertheless, the island's economy continues to recover, and Mitchell is re-elected in 1999.

2001 - 2003

The international 'Financial Action Task Force' takes aim at the Grenada government's weak approach to money laundering. Seventeen Grenadian banks are closed. They are linked to the First International Bank of Grenada, which had collapsed in 2000 with losses of $150 million to US depositors.

The international community is satisfied with Grenada's anti-laundering steps and, in 2003, restores the country's standing. Still, only five offshore banks remain in operation after all the closures.

The aftermath of Hurricane Luis on Antigua in 1995
Destructive hurricanes were nothing new in the Caribbean, with Hurricane Luis leaving devastation in its wake across the Caribbean islands after it had passed on 5 September 1995, with three dead on Antigua and millions of dollars of damage done

2004

Hurricane Ivan kills at least thirty-nine and causes about $815,000,000 in damages. Ninety percent of homes are damaged. The island's infrastructure is shattered, and tourism suffers.

2008 - 2013

Sir Carlyle Glean

Governor-general.

2010

The International Monetary Fund provides $13.3 million in credit to help ameliorate the adverse effect of the global downturn on Grenada's economy. Grenada's banking reforms have helped to smooth the awarding of aid.

2013

Lawrence Joseph

Acting governor-general (for four days).

2013 - On

Dame Cécile La Grenade

First female governor-general.

2022

At least two painful exchanges take place between island governments in the Caribbean and the earl and countess of Wessex during their week-long tour of the British-linked Caribbean islands. Comments during a meeting on Antigua & Barbuda makes likely a future pursuit of full independence.

Caribbean independence supporters in St Vincent in 2022
Protesters in St Vincent during the royal visit by the earl and countess of Wessex in 2022 showed that calls for independence were not going away

St Kitts & Nevis also reveals its plan to cut ties with the United Kingdom, with a growing sense of injustice around the former slave trade being used as a key point. Earlier in the year the same sentiment has already been echoed by the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, and Jamaica.

 
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