Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Introduction

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles island arc, in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean. The country is also known simply as Saint Vincent.

Its 344 km2 (133 sq mi) territory consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, which are a chain of smaller islands stretching south from Saint Vincent Island to Grenada. Most of Saint Vincent lies within the Hurricane Belt.

To the north of Saint Vincent lies Saint Lucia, to the east Barbados. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a densely populated country (over 300 inhabitants/km2) with approximately 102,000 inhabitants.

Its capital is Kingstown, also its main port. Saint Vincent has a French and Britishcolonial history and is now part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, CARICOM, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

The main mother tongue is Vincentian Creole and the official language is English.


Understand

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.


Tourism

The tourism sector has considerable potential for development. The recent filming of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on the island has helped to expose the country to more potential visitors and investors. Recent growth has been stimulated by strong activity in the construction sector and an improvement in tourism.


Geography

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines lies to the west of Barbados south of Saint Luciaand north of Grenada in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, an island arc of the Caribbean Sea. The islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines include the main island of Saint Vincent 344 km2(133 sq mi) and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines45 km2 (17 sq mi), which are a chain of smaller islands stretching south from Saint Vincent to Grenada. There are 32 islands and cays that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Nine are inhabited, including the mainland St Vincent and the Grenadines islands: Young Island, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, Petit St Vincent and Palm Island. The capital of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is Kingstown, Saint Vincent.

The main island of Saint Vincent measures 26 km (16 mi) long, 15 km (9.3 mi) in width and 344 km2 (133 sq mi) in area. From the most northern to the most southern points, the Grenadine islands belonging to Saint Vincent span 60.4 km (37.5 mi) with a combined area of 45 km2 (17 sq mi).

The island of Saint Vincent is volcanic and includes little level ground. The windward side of the island is very rocky and steep, while the leeward side has more sandy beaches and bays. Saint Vincent's highest peak is La Soufrière volcano at 1,234 m (4,049 ft).


Climate

Tropical; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November).


Demographics

The population as estimated in July 2013 was 103,220. The ethnic composition was 66% African descent, 19% of mixed descent, 6% East Indian, 4% Europeans (mainly Portuguese), 2% Island Carib and 3% others. Most Vincentians are the descendants of African people brought to the island to work on plantations. There are other ethnic groups such as Portuguese (from Madeira) and East Indians, both brought in to work on the plantations after the abolishing of slavery by the British living on the island. There is also a growing Chinese population.


Religion

According to the 2001 census, 81.5% of the population of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is considered Christian, 6.7% has another religion and 8.8% has no religion or did not state a religion (1.5%).

Anglicanism constitutes the largest religious category, with 17.8% of the population. Pentecostals are the second largest group (17.6%). The next largest group are Methodists(10.9% of the population), followed by Seventh-day Adventists (10.2%) and Baptists(10.0%). Other Christians include Jehovah's Witnesses (0.6%),Roman Catholics (7.5%), Evangelicals (2.8%), Church of God (2.5%), Brethren Christian (1.3%), and the Salvation Army (0.3%).

Between 1991 and 2001 the number of Anglicans, Brethren, Methodists and Roman Catholics decreased, while the number of Pentecostals, Evangelicals and Seventh-day Adventists increased.

The number of non-Christians is small. These religious groups include the Rastafarians(1.5% of the population), Hindus and Muslims.


Economy

Agriculture, dominated by banana production, is the most important sector of this lower-middle-income economy. The services sector, based mostly on a growing tourist industry, is also important. The government has been relatively unsuccessful at introducing new industries, and the unemployment rate remains high at 19.8% in the 1991 census to 15% in 2001. The continuing dependence on a single crop represents the biggest obstacle to the islands' development as tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of bananas in many years.

There is a small manufacturing sector and a small offshore financial sector whose particularly restrictive secrecy laws have caused some international concern. In addition, the natives of Bequia are permitted to hunt up to four humpback whales per year under IWC subsistence quotas.

Transportation - Get In


By plane

The largest airport is E.T. Joshua Airport just outside of the capital of Kingstown. Most flights in and out are relatively local, mostly flying to nearby islands such as Canouan, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Saint Kitts. A new international airport is under construction and is estimated to be completed in 2015, at which time E.T. Joshua will cease operation.


By boat

The islands have many docks and bays, including two large enough to accommodate a cruise ship. Despite this, very few cruises stop in the country and the vast majority of travellers come to the country either by aeroplane or by yacht.

Transportation - Get Around

The island is relatively small, but the mountainous landscape makes it difficult to get around. The main highways run along the coasts and as such it is necessary to drive around the whole of the island to get from one side to the other. In terms of public transportation the island is served by a large number of privately owned vans that act as a bus service. These vans have an "H" at the beginning of their license plates, meaning they are "for hire." Cost to ride is EC$1. Many of them have graphics on the front. Driving is on the left.


By boat

Windward Islands - Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all crewed charter (no bareboat available) in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Operating from 8 international offices (USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Monaco).

Visa & Passport

Destinations


Regions

 Saint Vincent
the largest island, the majority of the territory
 Grenadines
an archipelago of 32 islands and cays, to the south

Cities

  • Kingstown - the capital
  • Barrouallie
  • Chateaubelair
  • Georgetown

Accommodation & Hotels

Many tourists arrive in the Grenadines, stay at a resort, and never get the opportunity to interact with the citizens. If you want to get a taste of the true culture, consider a guest house or apartment in Kingstown. Fort View Guest House in Edinboro is a good choice. It is within walking distance of downtown Kingstown.

Things to see

  • Tobago Cays Marine Park in the Grenadines.
  • Sites where the movies The Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed.

Things to do

  • Carnival in early July a.k.a. Vincy Mas (much music and drinking)
  • Eat pork or chicken at a roadside barbecue on Friday or Saturday night
  • Enjoy the view from Fort Charlotte
  • Visit Montreal Gardens
  • Hike the Vermont Nature Trail
  • Visit the Botanical Gardens
  • Climb La Soufriere Volcano (not an easy climb!)
  • Swim in the Tobago Cays
  • Visit the Arawak Rock Carvings
  • Black Point Tunnel
  • Hike up to and enjoy the view from Fort Duvernette

Money & Shopping

The official currency of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD). The exchange rate is US$1 = EC$2.67. A helpful hint: When using US dollars, multiply the price you see by .4 and you will get change back. Most merchants accept both paper U.S. and all forms of E.C. currency. U.S. coins are not accepted, as the central bank does not accept them as currency.

Food

 

Drink

 In Kingstown, the water is safe to drink, but be a bit careful at some other locations. The water quality can vary depending upon the season of the year and how the water (often rain water) is collected. Bitter Lemon is a popular soda. Hairoun is a popular locally produced beer. Adventurous drinkers will want to try Black Wine.

Festivals & Events

Internet, Comunication

St. Vincent uses the North American style of calling codes, where all local numbers are seven digits. The area code for the islands is 784, which makes all international numbers for Saint Vincent in the form of 1-784-XXX-XXXX

Language

 The main language on the islands is English. As a former British colony, British spellings are more common than American spellings.

Culture

Music

Music popular in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines includes big drum, calypso, soca, steelpan and reggae. String band music, quadrille and bele music and traditional storytelling are also popular. One of the most successful St Vincent natives is Kevin Lyttle. He was named Cultural Ambassador for the Island 19 September 2013.

The national anthem of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is "Saint Vincent, Land so beautiful", adopted upon independence in 1979.

History

While 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 shortly before 1700. 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. St. Vincent was ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763), restored to French rule in 1779 and regained by the British under the Treaty of Versailles in 1783.

Slavery was abolished in 1834; the resulting labour shortages on the plantations attracted Portuguese immigrants in the 1840s and east Indians in the 1860s. From 1763 until independence, St. Vincent passed through various stages of colonial status under the British and it 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 full independence.

Natural disasters have plagued the country throughout the 20th century. In 1902, Soufrière volcano erupted, killing 2,000 people. Much farmland was damaged, and the economy deteriorated. In April 1979, La Soufriere erupted again. Although no one was killed, thousands had to be evacuated, and there was extensive agricultural damage. In 1980 and 1987, hurricanes devastated banana and coconut plantations; 1998 and 1999 also saw very active Hurricane seasons, with hurricane Lenny in 1999 causing extensive damage to the west coast of the island.

Respect

Stay safe / healthy


Stay safe

Hurricanes are an annual risk. The La Soufriere volcano on the island of Saint Vincent is occasionally active, but a sophisticated advance warning system is in place and resulted in zero casualties in its latest eruption in 1979.


Stay healthy

The US government suggests that hepatitis A and B shots be given to anyone travelling in the Caribbean, however there are no major health risks in the country.

 

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Travel guide

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