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Grenada

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Quick Facts
CapitalSaint George's
Governmentconstitutional monarchy with Westminster-style parliament
CurrencyEast Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Areatotal: 344 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 344 sq km
Population89,211 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageEnglish (official), French patois
ReligionRoman Catholic 53%, Anglican 13.8%, other Protestant 33.2%

Grenada is a group of three larger islands (Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique) and several tiny islands (Area: 344 sq km) in the Caribbean, or West Indies. It lies just northeast of Trinidad and Tobago, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is famous for spices and is known as the spice isle, being a major source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa.

One of the smallest independent countries in the western hemisphere, Grenada was seized by a Marxist military council on 19 October 1983. Six days later the island was invaded by US forces and those of six other Caribbean nations, which quickly captured the ringleaders and their hundreds of Cuban advisers. Free elections were reinstituted the following year.

Map of GrenadaMap of Grenada
Map of Grenada

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Understand

Grenada was first "discovered" by Europeans when Columbus passed by on his third voyage in 1498. He named the island Concepcion. In 1609 the British tried to begin a colony, but the island was inhabited by indigenous people known as the Carib Indians who did not want them there. In 1650, the French managed to bribe them with exotic european goods, to establish a colony.

The Caribs were still not friendly towards the French, and were constantly in conflict with them soon after they arrived. In 1651, the conflict ended with an all-out effort by the French to eradicate the Caribs. After a heated battle, the remaining Caribs fled to the northern coast, where the town of SauteursSauteurs is today. At a cliff know as Carib's Leap Carib's Leap, or Leaper's Hill, the Caribs, rather than submit to the questionable benefits of European colonization, threw themselves over the edge of the cliffs to the rocks below.

Over the next hundred years, Grenada was traded back and forth many times between Britain and France during the course of their wars. Finally in 1783, the Treaty of Versailles awarded Grenada to Britain, but the French heritage lives on in many of the geographical names and in the African-French patois still spoken by many.

In 1967, Grenada became an associated state within the British Commonwealth. With this, the island nation gained control of its internal affairs, while the government of Britain continued to control external matters. Complete independence was achieved in 1974 under the leadership of the late Sir Eric Gairy -- a charismatic and controversial figure who had been in the public eye since the early 1950s.

While Gairy was away from the island in 1979, his key political opponent, the late Maurice Bishop, seized control of the government. An avowed radical, Bishop set about establishing strong ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba. Then, in 1983, a faction within Bishop?s New Jewel Movement placed Bishop under house arrest and took control of Grenada. Bishop and several aides were eventually executed.

All this turmoil and the purported threat to U.S. medical students stranded on the island, served as the catalyst for the famed "rescue mission" by U.S. forces a short time later. The overwhelming support for the action by the Grenadian population was evident from the start and has barely subsided today.

In late 1984, the late Herbert Blaize was elected Prime Minister of Grenada in its first free elections since the incident. As a result of substantial U.S. aid, the government is well on its way to rebuilding the island?s reputation as an agricultural force, with light manufacturing and tourism to round out its economic base.

In September of 2003, hurricane Ivan devastated the island of Grenada and destroyed or damaged 90% of the buildings and most of the spice crops. It has only just begun the rebuilding effort as of 2004.

Grenada

Get in

Grenada

By Plane

Point Salines International Airport is on the main island of Grenada, located on a peninsula in the extreme southwest corner. It is about 4 miles from the capital of St. George's. British Airways, BWIA, and American Eagle, Monarch, USAir, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic, Caribbean Star, Liat, Air Jamaica, provide direct service to Grenada; connections can be made on other carriers via Trinidad and Barbados.

Grenada

By boat

Many cruise ships dock in St. George's. A brand new cruise ship terminal was recently completed, allowing up to 5 ships to be docked at once. Private moorings are available all around the island.

Ferry service is available to the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique via Osprey Lines Limited (http://www.ospreylines.com/).

Charters of various sizes and crews can be found by inquiring at hotels or the carenage in St. Geroge's.

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