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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Country Profile

In Countries by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

The last sovereign country in the ‘Eastern Caribbean’ that we haven’t covered, we close out our trip through one of our favourite parts of the world in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Want to learn more about Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?

Travel Guide | Currency

  • Capital (and Largest City): Kingstown
  • Population (2013): 103,000 (196th)
  • Total Area: 389 km² (184th)
  • Official Language: English
  • Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar ($) (XCD)

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History

Early History

The Caribs were the original inhabitants of the islands, and generally kept Europeans from settling here until the early 18th century. They were joined by escaped slaves from nearby islands who assimilated into the Carib culture.

French to British (x2)

By 1719, the French finally succeeded in colonizing most of the islands in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (though the English had claimed the main island previously, an actual colony was out of reach). French rule lasted until the Seven Years War (1754-1763), where the British captured Saint Vincent and were granted official ownership in the post-war treaty. There was another twist in the tale in 1779 when the French regained control…only to lose it to the British once more in 1783.

The years of British colonialism saw widespread conflict with the indigenous Caribs (with support of the French). A crushed uprising in the late 18th century led to mass deportations of Caribs to Honduras. While initially dependent on slave labour, the British colony pivoted following the abolition of slavery in 1834. The 1902 eruption of the La Soufrière volcano killed 2,000 people and severely damaged the economy.

Independence

While Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was given control over its internal affairs in 1969, it wasn’t until ten years later when it achieved full independence. In the years since, a further eruption and hurricanes caused extensive damage to parts of the country. The nation recently held a referendum to replace the Queen with a president (becoming a full republic). While this was defeated, it remains to be seen if the sentiment will prompt another attempt in the future.

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Culture

Music is one of the most enduring elements of Vincentian culture. Like many other Caribbean islands, styles such as calypso, soca, and reggae are hugely popular. In addition, traditional storytelling still has an important place in society. Also like other nearby islands, the people are predominantly of African descent, while indigenous and European elements are also seen.

Flag

The flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a tricolor of blue, yellow, and green with three green diamonds in a ‘V’ in the centre. Blue represents the sky and water, yellow the sand, and green the vegetation. The placement of the ‘V’ is meant to denote the location of the country in the lower Antilles.

Sports

As a former British colony, the most popular sports are pretty much in line with what you’d expect – cricket, rugby, and soccer. Other sports are played as well while athletics (namely track) is also followed.

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Geography

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines consists of the eponymous main island as well the northern 2/3 of the Grenadines (with the others a part of Grenada). The vast majority of the land area is made up by Saint Vincent. The island differs in that the windward side is mostly rocky along the coast while the leeward side is sandy. The island is mostly mountainous with the Soufrière volcano the country’s highest point.

Cities and Towns

Kingstown is the largest settlement in the country (and capital), with a population of more than 16,000. The centre of life on Saint Vincent, it also serves as the main port and point of entry for tourists.

saint vincent grenadines kingstown boat ship port harbor water city

Did you know?

  • The country is made up of 32 islands, though only 9 are inhabited
  • Kingstown is known as “The City of Arches”
  • The country was one of the key locations for the filming of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films
  • There are five airports throughout Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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Last Word

While it might have changed hands multiple times in the colonial era, the newly independent Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has weathered literal storms and now looks to the future!


There’s much more to discover with Continental’s Countries. Don’t forget to check out our Currency Spotlight on the Eastern Caribbean dollar as well as our comprehensive Travel Guide for SVG.

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