Grenada -- Geography --
Official Name: Grenada
Capital City: St's George
Official Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollars,
Population: 108,132 (UN, 2008.), Density 319.8/km2 (45th)
Land Area: 3 islands, 133 sq. miles total (344 km2 )
The island Grenada itself is the largest island; smaller Grenadines are Carriacou, Petit Martinique, Ronde Island, Caille Island, Diamond Island, Large Island, Saline Island and Frigate Island. Most of the population lives on Grenada itself, and major towns there include the capital, St. George’s, Grenville and Gouyave. The largest settlement on the other islands is Hillsborough on Carriacou.
The islands are of volcanic origin with extremely rich soil. Grenada’s interior is very mountainous with Mount St. Catherine being the highest at 2,756 feet (840 m). Several small rivers with beautiful waterfalls flow into the sea from these mountains. The climate is tropical: hot and humid in the rainy season and cooled by the trade winds in the dry season. Grenada, being on the Southern edge of the hurricane belt, has suffered only three hurricanes in fifty years. Hurricane Janet passed over Grenada on 23 September 1955 with winds of 115 mph, causing severe damage. The most recent storms to hit have been Hurricane Ivan on September 7, 2004 causing severe damage and thirty-nine deaths and Hurricane Emily on July 14, 2005, causing serious damage in Carriacou and in the north of Grenada which had been relatively lightly affected by Hurricane Ivan.
Grenada -- History --
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 Concepcion. 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.
Slavery was outlawed in 1834 at which the slave population had reached 24,000. National political consciousness took shape through the labour movement. Grenada joined the Federation of the West Indies in 1958. When that was dissolved in 1962, Grenada evolved first into an Associated State with internal self government (1967). Independence was achieved in 1974; Grenada became a constitutional monarchy, with a Prime Minister and Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State, represented by the Governor General.
Grenada -- Economy --
Grenada relies on tourism as its main source of foreign exchange, especially since the construction of an international airport in 1985. 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. Grenada is linked to the world through the Maurice Bishop International Airport and the St. George’s harbour. International flights connect with other Caribbean islands, the United States, and Europe. There is also a daily fast ferry service between St. George’s and Hillsborough. Beginning in October, 2009, new passenger ferry service between Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and Trinidad provided by Grenada-based BEDY Ocean Line is scheduled to begin.
Grenada -- Culture --
Although French influence on Grenadian culture is much less visible than on other Caribbean islands, surnames and place names in French remain, and the every day language is laced with French words and the local dialect or Patois. Stronger French influence is found in the well seasoned spicy food and styles of cooking similar to those found in New Orleans and some French architecture has survived from the 1700s. Island culture is heavily influenced by the African roots of most of the Grenadians but Indian influence is also seen with dhal puri, rotis, Indian sweets, and curries in the cuisine.
The "oildown" is considered to be the national dish. The phrase "oil-down" refers to a dish cooked in coconut milk until all the milk is absorbed, leaving a bit of coconut oil in the bottom of the pot. Early recipes call for a mixture of salted pigtail, pigs feet (trotters), salt beef and chicken, dumplings made from flour, provision: breadfruit, green banana, yam and potatoes. Callaloo leaves are some times used to retain the steam and for extra flavour.
This dish is a common tradition at family and other gatherings at the beach, There is a modest debate in the West Indies about the origin of this dish, with some experts attributing it to other islands like Barbados or Trinidad & Tobago.
Foods aren’t the only important aspect of Grenadian culture. Music, dance, and festivals are also extremely important. Soca, calypso, and reggae set the mood for Grenada's annual Carnival activities. Over the years Rap music became famous among Grenadian youths and there have been numerous young rappers emerging in the islands underground rap scene for eg. Red Shield Recordz. Zouk is also being slowly introduced onto the island. The islanders’ African heritage plays an influential role in many aspects of Grenada’s culture.
As with other islands from the Caribbean, cricket is the national and most popular sport and is an intrinsic part of Grenadian culture.
An important aspect of Grenadian culture is the tradition of story telling, with folk tales bearing both African and French influences. The character, Anancy, a spider god who is a trickster, originated in West Africa and is prevalent on other Caribbean islands as well. French influence can be seen in La Diablesse, a well-dressed she-devil, and Ligaroo (from Loup Garoux), a werewolf.
Grenada -- Political profile --
Parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy. 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 years.