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St. Vincent and the Grenadines

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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Pax et justitia"  (Latin)
"Peace and justice"
AnthemSt Vincent Land So Beautiful
Capital
(and largest city)
Kingstown
13°10′N 61°14′W / 13.167°N 61.233°W / 13.167; -61.233
Official language(s) English
Demonym Vincentian
Government Parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
 -  Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne
 -  Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves
Independence
 -  from the United Kingdom 27 October 1979 
Area
 -  Total 389 km2 (201st)
150 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
Population
 -  2008 estimate 120,000 (182nd)
 -  Density 307/km2 (39th)
792/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $1.069 billion[1] 
 -  Per capita $9,976[1] 
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $567 million[1] 
 -  Per capita $5,291[1] 
HDI (2007) 0.761 (medium) (93rd)
Currency East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Time zone (UTC-4)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .vc
Calling code +1-784

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a nation in the Lesser Antilles chain, which lies at the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its 389-square-kilometre (150 sq mi) territory consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, which are a chain of smaller islands stretching south from Saint Vincent to Grenada.

To the north of St. Vincent lies St. Lucia, to the east Barbados, and to the south Grenada. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has an estimated population of 120,000 and the capital is Kingstown. The country has a French and British colonial history and is now part of the Commonwealth of Nations and CARICOM.

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The island now known as Saint Vincent was originally named "Hairouna" by the Carib Indians. Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century. At that time, formerly enslaved Africans, who had either been shipwrecked or who had escaped from Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada and sought refuge in mainland St. Vincent, intermarried with the Caribs and became known as Garifuna or Black Caribs.

Beginning in 1719, French settlers gained control of the island and began cultivating coffee, tobacco, indigo, cotton, and sugar on plantations. These plantations were worked by enslaved Africans. In 1763, France ceded control of St. Vincent to Britain. However, France re-invaded the island in 1779. The French regained control after landing at Calliaqua, near Fort Duvernette. The British then finally regained St. Vincent under the Treaties of Versailles (1783). These treaties were ancillary treaties to the Treaty of Paris (1783), through which Great Britain officially recognised the end of the American Revolution.

Between 1783 and 1796, there was conflict between the British and the Black Caribs, who were led by defiant Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer. In 1796 British General Sir Ralph Abercromby put an end to the open conflict by crushing a revolt which had been fomented by the French radical Victor Hugues. More than 5,000 Black Caribs were eventually deported to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras.

Slavery was abolished in Saint Vincent 1834. An apprenticeship period followed which ended in 1838. After its end, labour shortages on the plantations resulted, and this was initially addressed by the immigration of indentured servants. In the late 1840s many Portuguese immigrants arrived from Madeira and between 1861 and 1888 shiploads of East Indian labourers arrived. Conditions remained harsh for both former slaves and immigrant agricultural workers, as depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the turn of the century.

From 1763 until its independence in 1979, St. Vincent passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorised in 1776, Crown Colony government was installed in 1877, a legislative council was created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage was granted in 1951.

During the period of its control of St. Vincent, the British made several unsuccessful attempts to affiliate the island with other Windward Islands. This would have simplified Britain's control over the region through a unified administration. In the 1960s, several regional islands under British control, including St. Vincent, also made an independent attempt to unify. The unification was to be called the West Indies Federation and was driven by a desire to gain freedom from British rule. The attempt collapsed in 1962.

St. Vincent was granted "associate statehood" status by Britain on October 27, 1969. This gave St. Vincent complete control over its internal affairs but was short of full independence. On October 27, 1979, following a referendum under Milton Cato, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence. Independence came on the 10th anniversary of St. Vincent's associate statehood status.

Natural disasters have featured in the country's history. In 1902, La Soufrière volcano erupted, killing 2,000 people. Much farmland was damaged, and the economy deteriorated. In April 1979, La Soufrière erupted again. Although no one was killed, thousands had to be evacuated, and again there was extensive agricultural damage. In 1980 and 1987, hurricanes compromised banana and coconut plantations. 1998 and 1999 also saw very active hurricane seasons, with Hurricane Lenny in 1999 causing extensive damage to the west coast of the island.

On November 25, 2009, a referendum was held in which voters were asked to approve a new constitution, which would make the country a republic, replacing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state with a President. A two-thirds majority was required, but it was defeated by 29,019 votes (55.64 per cent) to 22, 493 (43.13 per cent).[2] A celebration was then held in the country, where over 10,000 people attended a party in the capital Kingstown