Friday, June 18, 2021

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Introduction

North AmericaSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines | Introduction

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles archipelago, in the southern part of the Leeward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The country is also known simply as St. Vincent.

The 344 km2 territory consists of the main island of St. Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, a chain of smaller islands extending south from the island of St. Vincent to Grenada. Most of St. Vincent lies within the hurricane belt.

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

Its capital is Kingstown, which is also the main port. St. Vincent has a French and British colonial 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.

Tourism

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

Geography

St. Vincent and the Grenadines are located west of Barbados, south of St. Lucia and north of Grenada in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, an island arc in the Caribbean Sea. The islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines comprise the main island of St Vincent (344 km2) and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines (45 km2), a chain of smaller islands extending south from St Vincent to Grenada. There are 32 islands and cays that make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Nine of them are inhabited, including the islands on the mainland of St Vincent and the Grenadines: Young Island, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, Petit St Vincent and Palm Island. The capital of St Vincent and the Grenadines is Kingstown, St Vincent.

The main island of St. Vincent is 26 km long, 15 km wide and 344 km2 in size. From the northernmost to the southernmost point, the Grenadine Islands belonging to St. Vincent extend over 60.4 km with a total area of 45 km2.

The island of St Vincent is volcanic and contains little flat terrain. The windward side of the island is very rocky and steep, while the leeward side has more sandy beaches and bays. The highest peak on St. Vincent is the volcano La Soufrière at 1,234 m.

Demographics

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

Religion

According to the 2001 census, 81.5% of the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are considered Christian, 6.7% have another religion and 8.8% have no religion or have not declared a religion (1.5%).

Anglicanism forms the largest religious category with 17.8 % of the population. Pentecostals are the second largest group (17.6%). The next largest group is Methodists (10.9% of the population), followed by Seventh-day Adventists (10.2%) and Baptists (10.0%). Other Christians are Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.6%), Roman Catholics (7.5%), Evangelicals (2.8%), Church of God (2.5%), Christian Brothers (1.3%) and 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 Rastafarians (1.5 % of the population), Hindus and Muslims.

Economy

Agriculture, dominated by banana production, is the most important sector of this low- to middle-income economy. The service sector, based mainly on a growing tourism industry, is also important. The government has been relatively unsuccessful in introducing new industries, and the unemployment rate remains high, from 19.8% in the 1991 census to 15% in 2001. The continued dependence on a single crop is the biggest obstacle to the islands’ development, as tropical storms have destroyed large parts of the banana crop in many years.

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