is an island nation with an estimated population of 110,000. Its capital is St. George's. The national bird is the critically endangered Grenada Dove. Carriacou and Petite Martinique, two of the Grenadines have the status of dependency.
The recorded history of Grenada begins in 1498 and was christened Concepcion by Christopher Columbus. At the time the Island Caribs (Kalinago) lived here and called it Camahogne. The Spaniards did not permanently settle on Camahogne but they said it reminded them of their homeland particularly Andalusia, passing Spanish sailors began to call the island Grenada and slowly the name stuck. Later the English failed their first settlement attempts in 1609, but the French fought and conquered Grenada from the Caribs around 1650. The French then took control and named their new colony La Grenade. La Grenade prospered, its main export was sugar. The French established a capital known as Fort Royal in 1650 as ordered by Cardinal Richelieu. The French conquest resulted in the genocide of 1651 when the forty remaining natives jumped to their death from Leapers Hill (own blog) rather than become captives.To wait out harsh hurricanes, the French navy would shelter in the capital's unique natural harbour, no other French colony had a natural harbour later renamed St. George's. The colony was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1783 by the Treaty of Paris. A century later, in 1877 Grenada was made a Crown Colony.
1958–1984: Independence and Revolution
The island was a province of the
short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962.
Civil conflict gradually broke out between Eric Gairy’s government and some opposition parties including the New Jewel Movement (NJM). Gairy’s party won elections in 1976 but the opposition did not accept the result, accusing it of fraudulence. In 1979, the NJM under Maurice Bishop launched a paramilitary attack on the government resulting in its overthrow. The constitution was suspended and Bishop's government ruled subsequently by decree. Cuban presence was welcomed and heavily invested in civic assistance (doctors, teachers, and technicians in the fields of health, literacy, agriculture, and agro-industries) during the ensuing era. Agrarian reforms started by the Gairy government were continued and greatly expanded under the revolutionary government.
Some years later a dispute developed between Bishop and certain high-ranking members of the NJM. Hard left Party members, including Bernard Coard, demanded that Bishop either step down or enter into a power sharing arrangement. The dispute eventually led to the popular Bishop being deposed on the 19th of October 1983 and placed under house arrest. These actions led to street demonstrations in various parts of the island. Bishop had massive support among the population and was eventually freed by a large demonstration in the capital. Soon after, he was captured and executed by firing squad, by soldiers at Fort George - along with seven others including cabinet ministers of the government.
Maurice Rupert Bishop. 29th May 1944 - 19th October 1983. Background: Bishop was the son of Rupert and Alimenta Bishop. He was educated at the London School of Economics and had an extensive background in studies of the black power movement. Returning to Grenada, he became active in politics. In 1973 he became head of the Marxist New Jewel Movement (NJM) political party. He was elected to parliament, and for several years he held the position of leader of the opposition in the Grenadian House of Representatives, opposing the government of Prime Minister Eric Gairy and his Grenada United Labour Party (GULP). Maurice Bishop married Angela Redhead in 1966. They had two children, John and Nadia. Angela Bishop emigrated to Canadawith both children in 1981, while Bishop was still prime minister. He also fathered a son, Vladimir, with his longtime mistress Jacqueline Creft, who was also a minister in the PRG. She was killed with Bishop at the confrontation at Fort George. Like his parents, Vladimir was killed in violent circumstances (stabbed in a nightclub) in Toronto while still a young man.
After the execution of Bishop, the People's Revolutionary Army formed a military government with General Hudson Austin as chairman. The army declared a four-day total curfew during which it said that anyone leaving their home without approval would be shot on sight, over 1000 American medical students became de facto hostages of the regime. This marks the celebration of Thanksgiving in Grenada, which is celebrated with a large feast much like other Thanksgivings in The United States and Canada.
Grenada by the U.S. and OECS
On October the 25th 1983, Grenada was invaded by combined forces from the US, the Regional Security System (RSS) and Jamaica, in an operation codenamed Operation Urgent Fury. The US stated this was done at the behest of Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica. While the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon, later stated that he had also requested the invasion, it was highly criticised by the governments of the UK, Trinidad and Tobago, and Canada. The UN General Assembly condemned it as "a flagrant violation of international law" by a vote of 108 in favour to 9, with 27 abstentions.
After the invasion of the island nation, the pre-revolutionary Grenada constitution was resumed. Eighteen members of the PRG and the PRA (army) were arrested on charges related to the murder of Maurice Bishop and seven others. The eighteen included the top political leadership of Grenada at the time of the execution as well as the entire military chain of command directly responsible for the operation that led to the executions. Fourteen were sentenced to death, one was found not guilty and three were sentenced to forty-five years in prison. The death sentences were eventually commuted to terms of imprisonment. Those in prison have become known as the Grenada 17. There are seven left in prison due for release in 2010.
In 2000–2002, much of the controversy of the late 1970's and early 1980's was once again brought into the public consciousness with the opening of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission was chaired by a Roman Catholic Priest, Father Mark Haynes, and was tasked with uncovering injustices arising from the PRA, Bishop’s regime, and before. It held a number of hearings around the country. Brother Robert Fanovich, head of Presentation Brothers’ College (PBC) in St. George’s tasked some of his senior students with conducting a research project into the era and specifically into the fact that Maurice Bishop’s body was never discovered. Their project attracted a great deal of attention, including from the Miami Herald and the final report was published in a book written by the students called Big Sky, Little Bullet. It also uncovered that there was still a lot of resentment in Grenadian society resulting from the era, and a feeling that there were many injustices still unaddressed.
Hurricane Janet passed over Grenada on the 23rd of September 1955 with winds of 115 mph, causing severe damage. In 2004, after being hurricane-free for forty-nine years, the island was directly hit by Hurricane Ivan on the 7th of September. Ivan caused the deaths of thirty nine with ninety percent of the homes damaged or destroyed. In 2005, Hurricane Emily hit on the 14th of July, this Category 1 hurricane struck the northern part of the island with 80 knot winds, causing an estimated USD $110 million worth of damage.
Grenada has recovered with remarkable speed, due to both domestic labour and financing from the world at large. By December 2005, ninety-six per cent of all hotel rooms were open for business and have been upgraded in facilities and strengthened to an improved building code. The agricultural industry and in particular the nutmeg industry suffered serious losses, but that event has begun changes in crop management and it is hoped that as new nutmeg trees gradually mature, the industry will return to its pre-Ivan position as a major supplier in the Western World.
In April 2007, Grenada jointly hosted (along with several other Caribbean nations) the 2007 Cricket World Cup. After Hurricane Ivan, the Chinese government paid for the new $40 million National Stadium, along with the aid of over 300 Chinese labourers to build and repair it. During the opening ceremony the Taiwanese anthem was accidentally played, leading to the firing of top officials, OOPS.
The island Grenada itself is the largest island; smaller Grenadines are Carriacou, Petit Martinique, Ronde, Caille, Diamond, Large, Saline 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. 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.
Grenada does not know the word "steep". Hurricane damaged houses still standing. New parsey houses are all over the island
Parishes: Like many of the islands we have visited Grenada is divided into parishes, Saints Andrew, David, George, John, Mark and Patrick.
Politics: As a Commonwealth Realm, Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Grenada and Head of State. The Crown is represented by a Governor-General. Day-to-day executive power lies with the Prime Minister. Although appointed by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the Parliament. The Parliament consists of a Senate (thirteen members) and a House of Representatives (fifteen members). The senators are appointed by the government and the opposition, while the representatives are elected by the population for five-year terms. With 51% of the votes and eleven seats in the 2008 election, the National Democratic Congress won the 8th of July 2008 election. The opposition New National Party won the remaining four seats. Grenada is a full and participating member of both the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The flag showing the nutmeg. The Coat of Arms
features the usual Pan-African colours - Red represents the fervour of the
people, their courage and vitality. The red in the border is for dedication to
preserve harmony and unity of spirit. Gold (wisdom) represents the sun, the
warmth and friendliness of the people. Green symbolises the fertility of the
land, lush vegetation and the islands agriculture. The Coat of Arms is supported
by a Tattoo or Armadillo and on the right a Ramier or Columba Squamosa. Also
featured are the chief crops cocoa, nutmeg and banana.
Economic progress in fiscal reforms and prudent macroeconomic management have boosted annual growth to 5%–6% in 1998–99; the increase in economic activity has been led by construction and trade. Tourist facilities are being expanded; tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner. Major short-term concerns are the rising fiscal deficit and the deterioration in the external account balance. Grenada shares a common central bank and a common currency (the East Caribbean dollar) with seven other members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
Grenada is called The Spice Isle because it is a leading producer of several different spices. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, allspice, orange/citrus peels, wild coffee used by the locals, and especially nutmeg, providing 20% of the world supply, are all important exports. The nutmeg on the nation's flag represents the economic crop of Grenada; the nation is the world’s second largest producer of nutmeg (after Indonesia). The island has also pioneered the cultivation of organic cocoa which is also processed into finished bars by The Grenada Chocolate Company (own blog).
Tourism is Grenada’s main economic force. Conventional beach and water-sports tourism is largely focused in the southwest region around St Georges, the airport and the coastal strip; however, ecotourism is growing in significance. Most of these small ecofriendly guesthouses are located in the Saint David and Saint John parishes. The tourist industry is increasing dramatically with the construction of a large cruise ship pier and esplanade. Up to four cruise ships per day were visiting St. Georges in 2007–8 during the cruise ship season.
Grenada has many idyllic beaches around its coastline including the 3 km long Grand Anse Beach in St George's which is considered to be one of the finest beaches in the world, and often appears in countdowns of the world's top 10 beaches.
Grenada is linked to the world through the Point Salines 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. The Government at present are delaying issuing Alien Status to foreigners wishing to buy property here and this has had a major impact on many estate agents. The reason is unclear. We have met a number of ex-pats who if they could would sell tomorrow. Perhaps that is a fault of moving somewhere you haven't experienced first by renting. You can buy a new Japanese car here today and wait for a spare part for eight months. You cannot go on line and buy a book from Amazon and expect it tomorrow. If you go to any of the supermarkets you can find a good selection of good quality food, much imported from the US. If you go in with a specific list to follow a strict recipe, expect to be disappointed.
A majority of the citizens are descendants of the African slaves brought in by the Europeans; few of the indigenous Carib and Arawak population survived the French purge at Sauteurs. A small percentage of descendants of East Indian indentured workers were brought to Grenada mainly from the North Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh between the 1st of May 1857 and the 10th of January 1885. There is also a small community of French and English descendants. The rest of the population is of mixed descent.
Grenada, like many of the Caribbean islands is subject to a large amount of migration, with a large number of young people wanting to leave the island to seek life elsewhere. With just over 100,000 people living in Grenada, estimates and census data suggest that there are at least that number of Grenadian-born people in other parts of the Caribbean such as Barbados and Trinidad and at least that number again in First World countries. Popular migration points for Grenadians further north include New York City, Toronto, the UK predominantly London and Yorkshire. Sometimes Montreal, and as far south as Australia. Around a third of those born in Grenada still live there.
English is used in the government, but Grenadian Creole is considered the lingua franca of the island. French Patois (Antillean Creole) is still spoken by about 10%–20% the population. Some Hindi/Bhoipuri terms are still spoken amongst the Indian descendants, mostly those pertaining to the kitchen; such as aloo, geera, karela, seim, chownkay, and baylay. The term bhai, which means 'brother' or 'partner' in Hindi, is a common form of greeting amongst Indo-Grenadian males of equal status. Aside from a marginal community of Rastafarians living in Grenada, nearly all are mainstream Christians, about half of them Roman Catholics; Anglicanism is the largest Protestant denomination with Presbyterian and Seventh Day Adventist taking up the remainder. Most Churches have denomination-based schools but are open to all. There is a small Muslim population mostly from Gujarati Indian immigrants who came many years ago and set up some merchant shops.
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 1700's. 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 (trotters), salt beef and chicken, dumplings made from flour, provision: Breadfruit, green banana,yam and potatoes. Callaloo leaves are sometimes 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.
Music, dance, carnival and festivals are also extremely important. Soca, calypso, and reggae set the mood for Grenada's annual Carnival activities. 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 of 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. French influence can be seen in La Diablesse, a well-dressed she-devil, and Ligaroo (from Loup Garoux), a werewolf.
ALL IN ALL REALLY ENJOYED BEING HERE, SOME VERY UNIQUE FEATURES. A VERY COMFORTABLE PLACE.