Saint Vincent (island)
Saint Vincent is a volcanic island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 in the Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. It is the largest island of the chain called Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles chain, namely 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....

. It is located in the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, between Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 620 km2 and has an...

 and Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

. It is composed of partially submerged volcanic mountains. La Soufrière
Soufrière (volcano)
La Soufrière [The Sulfurer] or Soufrière Saint Vincent is an active volcano on the island of Saint Vincent in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean.- Geography and structure :...

 is still an active volcano .

The territory was disputed between France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in the 18th century, before being ceded to the British in 1783. It gained independence on October 27, 1979. Approximately 120,000 people live on the island. Kingstown
Kingstown is the chief port of Saint Vincent, and the capital of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. With a population of 25,418 Kingstown is a centre for the island's agricultural industry and a port of entry for tourists...

 (population 19,300) is the chief town. The rest of the population is dispersed along the coastal strip, which includes the other five main towns of Layou
Layou is a small town located on the island of Saint Vincent, in Saint Andrew Parish. There is a post office, a police station and a library. There are also two quarries.-History:...

, Barrouallie
Barrouallie is a town located on the island of Saint Vincent. Within Saint Patrick Parish Barrouallie is both the largest city and the parish capital. Once it was the capital of St.Vincent and the Grenadines....

, Chateaubelair
Chateaubelair is a large fishing village on the Leeward coast of the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, the main island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is located just south of the volcano of Soufrière. Commonly referred to as just "Chateau", it is the focus and largest community in the...

, Georgetown
Georgetown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Georgetown is a town located on the island of Saint Vincent. It is the largest city in Charlotte Parish.-See also:* Saint Vincent and the Grenadines...

, and Calliaqua
Calliaqua is a town in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is located in the far south of the main island of Saint Vincent, close to the island's southernmost point....

, and the Marriaqua Valley.


The people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are called Vincentians. There are also a few white descendants of English and French colonists, as well as a small number of Indo-Vincentians, descendants of indentured workers from India, and there is a sizable minority of mixed race (19%).

The population of the island in 2008 was 118,000 and the annual growth rate is 0.5%. The main religions are Anglican (47%), Methodist (10%), Roman Catholic (13%), other Protestant denominations, Seventh-day Adventist, and Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...


Adult literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 in 2004 was at 88.1%. 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 at 12%.


Long before Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 spotted this island during his third voyage in 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
Vincent of Saragossa
Saint Vincent of Saragossa, also known as Vincent Martyr, Vincent of Huesca or Vincent the Deacon, is the patron saint of Lisbon. His feast day is 22 January in the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion and 11 November in the Eastern Orthodox Churches...


It is speculated though by some Vincentians that the date given above is wrong. Some say that, although the island was named after Vincent of Saragossa it was not discovered on his feast day because on that date Columbus was nowhere near this island.

Geography of the island

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, called La Soufriere, which erupted violently in 1812 and 1902. The most recent eruption was on "Black Friday" [which was also the Christian 'Good Friday' for that year], April 13, 1979. The island is mountainous and well-forested. Saint Vincent island belongs to the Lesser Antilles
Lesser Antilles
The Lesser Antilles are a long, partly volcanic island arc in the Western Hemisphere. Most of its islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, with the remainder located in the southern Caribbean just north of South America...

 chain. Its territory has a total surface of 345 km², and the coasts measure about 84 km. The island is tropical humid, with an average of between 18 and 31 °C depending on the altitude.

Mainland St Vincent is one of the few places on Earth that can boast having black-sand as well as white-sand beaches in the same country.

There are places where there is just a rock that borders the black-sand beach from the white-sand beach. The black sand, which was formed by the action of the volcano, is said to be able to provide one of the minerals that is needed by the human body. The majority of the beaches on the mainland have black sand (more than 95%). Most of the beaches in the Grenadines have white sand.

For many years the black sand was used in the building industry. During recent times, because of the destruction to the coastal areas, the government has restricted the amount of sand that can be removed from the beaches, and the beaches from which sand could be removed. This sand is still used in the construction of pitched roads, as it blends in nicely with the colour of the asphalt used for road construction.

Government and politics

The capital of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is Kingstown. The country is a sovereign
A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.Sovereign may also refer to:*Monarch, the sovereign of a monarchy*Sovereign Bank, banking institution in the United States*Sovereign...

 parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth Realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

. The executive branch of government includes the Governor General (representing the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 Elizabeth II), the prime minister (head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

) and the cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

. The current Prime Minister is Ralph Gonsalves
Ralph Gonsalves
Ralph Everard Gonsalves , also known as "Comrade Ralph", is the fourth and current Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and leader of the Unity Labour Party . Gonsalves became Prime Minister after his party won a majority government in the 2001 general election...


The legislative branch of government is the unicameral House of Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
House of Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
The House of Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a unicameral legislature that serves as the legislative body for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines....

, seating 15 elected members representing single-member constiuencies
Electoral district
An electoral district is a distinct territorial subdivision for holding a separate election for one or more seats in a legislative body...

 and six appointed members known as Senators.

The judicial branch of government is divided into district courts, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is a superior Court of record for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States , including six independent states: Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and three British...

, and the Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

 in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 being the court of last resort.

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 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) NDP and the Unity Labour Party
Unity Labour Party
The Unity Labour Party is a democratic socialist political party in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Currently the governing party, it is led by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.-History:...


External links

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