From New World Encyclopedia
Flag of Grenada Coat of arms of Grenada
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Ever Conscious of God We Aspire, Build and Advance as One People"
Anthem: Hail Grenada
Location of Grenada
Capital Saint George's
12°3′N 61°45′W
Largest city capital
Official languages English
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 - King Charles III
 - Governor General Cécile La Grenade
 - Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell
 - from the United Kingdom February 7 1974 
 - Total 344 km² (203rd)
132.8 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1.6
 - 2022 estimate 113,949[1]
 - Density 318.58/km²
825.23/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2019 estimate
 - Total $1.801 billion[2]
 - Per capita $16,604[2]
GDP (nominal) 2019 estimate
 - Total $1.249 billion[2]
 - Per capita $11,518[2]
HDI  (2019) 0.779[3] (high)
Currency East Caribbean Dollar (XCD)
Internet TLD .gd
Calling code +1 473

Grenada is a group of three larger islands (Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique) and several tiny islands in the southeastern Caribbean, or West Indies. It lies just northeast of Trinidad and Tobago and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is famous for spices and is known as the "Spice Isle," being a major source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa. Grenada is the second-smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere (after Saint Kitts and Nevis).

In 1983, Grenada was invaded by U.S.-led troops that toppled the pro-Cuban Marxist government that had taken control. The island was hit heavily in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan, a Category 5 storm that damaged or destroyed 90 percent of the buildings on the island.

Grenada has natural beauty, with dense rainforest, a jagged coastline, picturesque beaches, and lush foliage. The soil, of volcanic origin, is extremely rich.


Grenada is an island of volcanic origin in the Lesser Antilles chain 90 miles north of Venezuela. It measures 14 miles across and 26 miles top to bottom for a total land area of 121 square miles—133 square miles when Carriacou and Petit Martinique are included. Dense rainforest, a jagged coastline, picturesque beaches, and brilliant foliage are enhanced by a mild climate. The wet season lasts from July through September, and the dry season lasts from October through June.

Map of Grenada

The island of Grenada itself is the largest island; the smaller Grenadines are Carriacou, Petit Martinique, Ronde Island, Caille Island, Diamond Island, Large Island, Saline Island, and Frigate Island. Most of the population lives on Grenada itself, and major towns there include the capital, Saint George's, Grenville, and Gouyave. The largest settlement on the other islands is Hillsborough on Carriacou. Carriacou and Petite Martinique, two of the Grenadines, have the status of dependency.

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 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.

Being on the southern edge of the hurricane belt, Grenada has suffered only three hurricanes in 50 years. Hurricane Janet passed over Grenada in 1955 with winds of 115 mph, causing severe damage. The most recent storms to hit were Hurricane Ivan in 2004, which caused severe damage and 39 deaths, and Hurricane Emily in 2005, which caused serious damage in Carriacou and in the north of Grenada, which had been relatively lightly affected by Hurricane Ivan.


Union Island.
The capital St. Georges, Grenada.
Hillsborough Carriacou
A view of Carriacou. Other Grenadine islands in distance

The Carib people violently displaced the Arawak (Taino) tribes around 1000 C.E. and called the island Camerhogne, until they also were driven out. Christopher Columbus named the island Concepción when he spotted it in 1498. In 1500, Alonso de Hojeda, Amerigo Vespucci, and Juan de la Cosa named the island Mayo. The name "Granada" was used on maps until the mid-1600s. To the French, the island was known as La Grenade; to the English, Grenada.


Spaniards did not settle permanently in Camerhogne. The first attempts at settlement by the English failed, but the French fought and conquered the Caribs around 1650. At one point many Caribs leaped to their death near Sauteurs, a present-day northern town, rather than be captives of the French. The French took control of Camerhogne and named the new French colony Grenade. It was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763, by the Treaty of Paris. Sixteen years later the French took the island back by force. In 1783, the Treaty of Versailles awarded Grenada again to the British. After another one hundred years, Grenada became a crown colony in 1877.

During 300 years of alternating occupation, the slave population on the sugar plantations grew and gathered strength. As early as 1700, slaves and a small number of "Free Coloureds" outnumbered white Europeans almost two to one.

Independence and revolution

The island was a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. In 1967, Grenada attained the position of "Associated State of the United Kingdom," which meant that Grenada was now responsible for its own internal affairs, and the United Kingdom was responsible for its defense and foreign affairs.

Independence was granted in 1974, under the leadership of then premier, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, who became the first prime minister. Eric Gairy's government became increasingly authoritarian and dictatorial, prompting a coup d'état in March 1979 by the Marxist leader of the New Jewel Movement, Maurice Bishop, who suspended the constitution and announced that his party was now a provisional revolutionary government. Bishop's failure to allow elections, coupled with his Marxist-Leninist socialism and cooperation with communist Cuba, did not sit well with the country's neighbors, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica, as well as the United States. Grenada suddenly had a very large standing army. Construction workers were brought in from Cuba. During this time, Cuba (as well as the World Bank) began helping to build an airport that had primarily commercial, but potentially also military, uses.[4]

A power struggle had developed between Bishop and some members of the ruling People's Revolutionary Government (PRG), including the co-founder of the leftist group, the NJM, Bernard Coard. This led to Bishop's house arrest; he and many others were eventually executed at Fort George on October 19, 1983, during a hardline military coup that brought a new pro-Soviet/Cuban government under General Hudson Austin to power. At the time of the coup there were about 50 Cuban military advisers and 700 armed construction workers on the island.[4]

Six days later, the island was invaded by U.S. forces, at the behest of Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica who appealed personally to the U.S. president Ronald Reagan. Five other Caribbean nations participated with Dominica and the United States in the campaign, called Operation Urgent Fury. Although the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon, later stated that he had requested the invasion, the governments of the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago expressed anger at not having been consulted.

The United States was concerned that Grenada could become a corner of a triangle also comprising Cuba and Nicaragua, both perceived as enemies of U.S. interests. Collectively, these three countries could have militarily controlled the deep water passages of the Caribbean Sea, thereby controlling the movement of oil from Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago (supplies considered vital by U.S. military planners).

A publicized tactical concern of the United States was the safe recovery of U.S. nationals enrolled at Saint George's University, although no official has ever been able to provide any evidence that any U.S. citizens were being mistreated or were unable to leave the country if they desired.

After the invasion, the United States gave $48.4 million in economic assistance to Grenada in 1984, and the CIA secretly spent $650,000 to aid a pro-American candidate in that year's election.[5]

Seventeen members of the PRG and the PRA (army) were convicted. Fourteen were sentenced to death, eventually commuted to life imprisonment after an international campaign. Another three were sentenced to 45 years in prison. Those 17 have become known as the "Grenada 17." In October 2003 Amnesty International issued a report stating that their arrest and trial had been a miscarriage of justice. The seventeen have protested their innocence since 1983. In February 2007, the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, the highest court of appeal for Grenada, threw out the sentences. In July 2007, the Grenada Supreme Court re-sentenced the Grenada 17, releasing three and setting up the release of the other 14 within two years.

Twenty-first century

In 2000-2002, much of the controversy of the late 1970s and early 1980s was once again brought into the public consciousness with the opening of the truth and reconciliation commission, tasked with uncovering injustices arising from Bishop's regime and before. It held a number of hearings around the country.

After being hurricane-free for 49 years, the island was hit directly by Hurricane Ivan (September 7, 2004), a Category 5 hurricane. Ninety percent of the homes were damaged or destroyed. The following year, Hurricane Emily (July 14), a Category 2 hurricane, struck the northern part of the island, causing an estimated US$110 million worth of damage, much less than Ivan.

Grenada recovered with remarkable speed, due to both domestic labor and financing from the world at large. Agriculture, in particular the nutmeg industry, suffered serious losses, but that initiated changes in crop management. It is hoped that as new nutmeg trees 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 had paid for a new $40 million national stadium, with the aid of over 300 Chinese laborers.[6]


Grenada is a full member of the OECS.

As a Commonwealth Realm, King Charles III is King of Grenada and head of state. The Crown is represented by a governor-general. Day-to-day executive power lies with the head of government, the prime minister. Although appointed by the governor-general, the prime minister is usually the leader of the largest faction in the Parliament.

The Parliament consists of a Senate (13 members) and a House of Representatives (15 members). The senators are appointed by the government and the opposition, while the representatives are elected by the population for five-year terms.

Grenada is a full and participating member of both the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Foreign relations

Parishes of Grenada

Grenada is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank, CARICOM, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Commonwealth of Nations, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). It joined the United Nations in 1974, and then the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Organization of American States (OAS) in 1975. Grenada also is a member of the Eastern Caribbean's Regional Security System (RSS).

Administrative divisions

Grenada is divided into six parishes:

  1. Saint Andrew
  2. Saint David
  3. Saint George
  4. Saint John
  5. Saint Mark
  6. Saint Patrick


Devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan
Did you know?
Grenada is known as the "spice isle" because it is a leading producer of several different spices

The economy of Grenada, based primarily upon services (tourism and education) and agricultural production (nutmeg and cocoa), was brought to a near standstill by Hurricane Ivan, which damaged or destroyed 90 percent of the buildings on the island, including some tourist facilities. Overall damage totaled as much as 2.5 times the annual GDP. Reconstruction has proceeded quickly, but much work remains. The United States has been the leading donor, with an emergency program of about $45 million aimed at repairing and rebuilding schools, health clinics, community centers, and housing; training several thousand Grenadians in construction and other fields; providing grants to private businesses to speed their recovery; and providing a variety of aid to help Grenada diversify its agriculture and tourism sectors.

Despite initial high unemployment in the tourist and other sectors, urban Grenadians have benefited post-hurricane from job opportunities in the surging construction sector. Agricultural workers have not fared as well. Hurricane Ivan destroyed or significantly damaged a large percentage of Grenada's tree crops, and Hurricane Emily further damaged the sector. Complete recovery will take many years. However, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses as well as Saint George's University, a large American medical and veterinary school with over 2,000 students, reopened quickly. In anticipation of Cricket World Cup matches held on the island in the spring of 2007, many Grenadians renewed their focus on the rebuilding process.

Grenada is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency for all members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries.

Grenada is also a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). Most goods can be imported into Grenada under open general license, but some goods require specific licenses. Goods that are produced in the Eastern Caribbean receive additional protection; in May 1991, the CARICOM common external tariff (CET) was implemented. The CET aims to facilitate economic growth through intra-regional trade by offering duty-free trade among CARICOM members and duties on goods imported from outside CARICOM.

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 are all important exports, providing 20 percent of the world supply. The nation is the world's second largest producer of nutmeg, which appears on the national flag.

Grenada is linked to the world through the Point Salines International Airport and the Saint George's harbor. International flights connect with the Caribbean, America, and Europe. There is also daily ferry service between Saint George's and Hillsborough.


About 80 percent of the population are descendants of the African slaves brought by the Europeans; no indigenous Carib and Arawak population survived the French purge at Sauteurs. About 12 percent are descendants of East Indian indentured servants brought to Grenada from 1857 to 1885. There is also a small enclave of English descendants. The rest of the population is of mixed descent.

A school on the beach.

Grenada, like many of the Caribbean islands, is subject to high 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 living in other parts of the Caribbean (such as Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago) and at least that number again in developed countries. Popular migration points for Grenadians farther north include New York City, Toronto, London, Yorkshire, and Montreal, or as far south as Australia. Few go to Paris. Probably around a third of those born in Grenada still live there.

Unemployment is particularly high among young people and those living in rural areas. The causes of poverty in Grenada are complex. They are related to historical and economic factors, including the vulnerability of the economy because of the country’s small size and its exposure to natural disaster. The destructive tropical storms and hurricanes that roar through the islands are a factor in keeping the poor from overcoming poverty. Although the country is small, Grenada shows a wide disparity of living standards, and areas of extreme poverty. Poverty is a predominantly rural problem, driving many young people from family-run farms to look for work in urban areas or abroad.

Rural poor people in Grenada include unemployed men and women, people under 20 years of age (who make up half of the poor population), women who are heads of households, and artisan and fisher families.

In Grenada, as in much of the Caribbean, a large number of households are headed by women. This is often the result of out-migration by men in search of employment. Teenage pregnancy is also common, and many young mothers have to end their schooling and look for work to provide for their children. Despite the high proportion of households headed by women, the poverty rate among them is only slightly higher than the rate for households headed by men.


The official language, 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 percent of the population.


Aside from a marginal community of Rastafarians living in Grenada, nearly all are Christians, about half of them Catholics; Anglicanism is the largest Protestant denomination with Presbyterians and Seventh Day Adventists making up the remainder. Most churches have denomination-based schools that 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.


1965 carnival.

Although French influence on Grenadian culture is much less visible than in other Caribbean islands, surnames and place names in French remain, as well as the everyday language, which 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 1700s.

Island culture is heavily influenced by the African roots of most of the Grenadians, but Indian influence is also seen. Staples such as bread, rice and peas, fruits, and vegetables figure prominently in the diet. Cocoa tea made from local cocoa and spices is a popular breakfast drink. Lunch is usually a heavier meal that may include salted cod in a "bake," which is fried bread about the size and shape of a hamburger bun. Fish is plentiful and affordable, as is chicken. Beef is scarce. Pork is reserved for special occasions such as Christmas, while goat and lamb are eaten commonly. Dishes are seasoned heavily with local spices. The national dish, "oil down," is a stew-like concoction made in large quantities with local vegetables such as callalou, dasheen, breadfruit, green fig (banana), and plantain.

Foods are not the only important aspect of Grenadian culture. Music, dance, 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.

Another 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 as well. French influence can be seen in La Diablesse, a well-dressed she-devil, and Ligaroo (from Loup Garoux), a werewolf.


  1. CIA, Grenada - People and Society The World Factbook. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 World Economic Outlook Database International Monetary Fund. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  3. United Nations, Human Development Report 2020 The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene (United Nations Development Programme, 2021, ISBN 9211264421).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Chris Bishop, The Aerospace Encyclopedia of Air Warfare, Vol. 2: 1945 to the Present (AIRtime Publishing, 1997, ISBN 978-1880588260).
  5. P.M.H. Bell and Mark Gilbert, The World Since 1945: An International History (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017, ISBN 978-1472524751).
  6. Associated Press, Grenada: Bandleader Loses Job in Chinese Anthem Gaffe The New York Times, February 8, 2007. Retrieved November 5, 2022.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Adkin, Mark. Urgent Fury: The Battle for Grenada: The Truth Behind the Largest U.S. Military Operation Since Vietnam. Trans-Atlantic Publications, 1989. ISBN 0850520231
  • Beck, Robert J. The Grenada Invasion: Politics, Law, and Foreign Policy Decisionmaking. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994. ISBN 0813387094
  • Bell, P.M.H., and Mark Gilbert. The World Since 1945: An International History. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. ISBN 978-1472524751
  • Bishop, Chris. The Aerospace Encyclopedia of Air Warfare, Vol. 2: 1945 to the Present. AIRtime Publishing, 1997. ISBN 978-1880588260
  • Brizan, George. Grenada Island of Conflict: From Amerindians to People's Revolution 1498-1979. Macmillan Caribbean, 1998. ISBN 978-0333710234
  • Sinclair, Norma. Grenada: Isle of Spice (Caribbean Guides). Interlink Publishing Group; 3rd ed., 2003. ISBN 0333968069
  • Steele, Beverley A. Grenada: A History of Its People (Island Histories). MacMillan Caribbean, 2003. ISBN 0333930533
  • United Nations. Human Development Report 2020 The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene. United Nations Development Programme, 2021. ISBN 9211264421

External links

All links retrieved November 1, 2022.


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