Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Overview
|Saint Vincent and the
|Form of government
||Parliamentary monarchy in the Commonwealth
||East Caribbean dollar
|Telephone area code
The island nation in the Caribbean (also: St. Vincent
and the Grenadines; officially English: Saint Vincent
and the Grenadines) belongs to the Windward Islands and
is located south of St. Lucia and north of Grenada. The
main island of Saint Vincent has an area of 344 km²,
the 32 islands of the Grenadines, which belong to the
state (the southern ones belong to Grenada), cover a
total area of 45 km². These include Bequia Island (18
km²), Canouan Island (7 km²), Union Island (8 km²),
Mustique, Mayreau, Petit Nevis, Isle ¨¤ quatre, Pigeon
Island, Battowia, Baliceaux, Petit Mustique, Savan,
Petit Canouan, Tobago Cays, Palm Island and Petit St.
The islands are of volcanic origin and have a
mountainous character. On the main island of Saint
Vincent, a mountain range runs through the island from
north to south. The highest elevation at 1,234 m is the
extinct Soufriere volcano in the north of the island,
whose crater is around 1,200 m in diameter and at the
bottom of which there is a crater lake (last eruption in
1979). Other mountains include Richmond Peak at 1,041 m
and Mount Brisbane at 904 m. To the east, the mountains
gradually drop to the sea, to the west in the form of
steep cliffs on the coast. The Grenadines are also
mountainous and have long sandy beaches.
The capital, Kingstown, is in the southwest of the
island of Saint Vincent.
The island state of St. Vincent has a tropical
climate with consistently high temperatures all year
round. The annual average values are around 26 ˇăC. A
large part of the precipitation falls in the months of
June to December: up to 1,500 mm are measured on the
coasts and in the lower areas, while on the slopes
facing the wind the mountains can fall up to 3,800 mm.
In the mostly flatter grenadines, the amount of
precipitation is significantly lower. In the dry season
(January to May) there is often a lack of fresh water.
Hurricanes can occur especially in September and
Flora and fauna
The volcanic soils of the island state are very
fertile. The mountains on the main island of Saint
Vincent are covered with evergreen tropical rainforest,
in which there is a large variety of plants. Most of the
rainforest was cleared in the Grenadines. In the capital
Kingstown is the oldest botanical garden in America,
which was created in 1765 and contains, among other
things, specimens of the breadfruit tree introduced in
Only the bird life and the underwater world in the
waters off the coast are rich in species on the islands.
The Royal Amazon, which only lives on Saint Vincent, of
which an estimated 400 still exist, was named a national
bird. A reserve is planned to protect the population
considered to be at risk.
A total of around 117,000 people live in the island
state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, most of them on
the main island. Kingstown on the west coast of Saint
Vincent has about 30,000 residents. Over two thirds of
the population are black and descendants of the slaves
abducted by Africa. The second largest population group
with approx. 20% are mulattoes (hybrids of blacks and
Europeans). According to COUNTRYAAH, 6% are descendants of Indian contract
workers who came to the islands after the abolition of
slavery. Whites, mostly of British origin, have a
population share of about 3%, almost 1% are descendants
of the indigenous people (Caribbean and "Black Caribs")
and live mainly in the north of the island of Saint
About three quarters of the total population are
Protestants (mostly Anglicans and Methodists), almost
10% are Catholics. The official language is English,
Creole English is also spoken, and occasionally Patois.
There is a significant birth surplus, but population
growth is only 0.5%, as many leave the country due to
the prevailing unemployment. Health care is relatively
well developed on the main island of Saint Vincent, but
incomplete in the Grenadines. The average life
expectancy is around 70 years.
The island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
is, according to the 1979 constitution, a parliamentary
monarchy in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The
head of state is the British monarch Elizabeth II, who
is represented on the islands by a governor general
(since September 2002 Frederick Ballantyne). He appoints
the prime minister as head of government of the country,
who is usually the representative of the strongest party
in parliament (Ralph Gonsalves since March 2001).
The legislature lies with the parliament, which
consists of a chamber (national assembly) with 23
members. 15 MPs are elected directly by the people, six
senators are proposed by the head of government and the
leader of the opposition and appointed by the governor
general, two are ex officio. Relevant political parties
are the United Labor Party (ULP) and the New Democratic
The economy of the island state is mainly based on
agriculture (bananas) and tourism.
Almost half of the total land area of the islands
is used for agriculture; bananas (a third of exports),
coconut palms and the West Indian arrowroot (as the
basis of medicinal products and baby food) are
cultivated for export. Banana sales are declining due to
high production costs and quality problems. Tuber crops,
vegetables, corn and sugar cane are cultivated for the
local population's own needs, and fishing is also
important. Food must also be imported. Tropical cyclones
repeatedly lead to severe crop losses.
The industry is only moderately developed and focuses
on the processing of agricultural products. Cement,
textiles and furniture are also produced in small
In addition to food, machines, vehicles and finished
products are also introduced. The main trading partners
are the USA and the other Caribbean countries.
Tourism is becoming the strongest source of foreign
currency and is funded by the government.
The road network on the main island of Saint Vincent
covers a total of around 1,000 km, a third of which is
paved. Kingstown is the only deep-sea port in the island
state. There is an international airport on the main
island near the capital Kingstown.