About Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles island arc, in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean. The country is also known simply as Saint Vincent.
Its 344 km2 (133 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 Island to Grenada. Most of Saint Vincent lies within the Hurricane Belt.
To the north of Saint Vincent lies Saint Lucia, to the east Barbados. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a densely populated country (over 300 inhabitants/km2) with approximately 102,000 inhabitants.
Its capital is Kingstown, also its main port. Saint 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.
The main island of Saint Vincent measures 26 km (16 mi) long, 15 km (9.3 mi) in width and 344 km2 (133 sq mi) in area. From the most northern to the most southern points, the Grenadine islands belonging
to Saint Vincent span 60.4 km (37.5 mi) with a combined area of 45 km2 (17 sq mi).
The island of Saint Vincent is volcanic and includes little level ground. The windward side of the island is very rocky and steep, while the leeward side has more sandy beaches and bays.Saint Vincent's highest peak is La Soufrière volcano at 1,234 m (4,049 ft).
Government and Politics
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, bearing the title Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Queen does not reside in the islands and is represented in the country by the Governor General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, currently Sir Frederick Ballantyne.
The office of Governor General has mostly ceremonial functions including the opening of the islands' House of Assembly and the appointment of various government officials. Control of the government rests with the elected Prime Minister and his or her cabinet. The current Prime Minister is Ralph Gonsalves, elected in 2001 as head of the Unity Labour Party.
The legislative branch of government is the unicameral House of Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, seating 15 elected members representing single-member constituencies and six appointed members known as Senators. The parliamentary term of office is five years, although the Prime Minister may call elections at any time.
The political parties with parliamentary representation are the New Democratic Party NDP and the Unity Labour Party (ULP). Parliamentary opposition made of the largest minority stakeholder in general elections, headed by the leader of the opposition. The current opposition leader is Arnhim Eustace.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines maintains close ties to the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and cooperates with regional political and economic organisations such as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and CARICOM. St Vincent and the Grenadines is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
In 2013, Saint Vincent called for European nations to pay reparations for the slave trade.
Saint Vincent has no formal armed forces, although the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force includes a Special Service Unit as well as a militia that has a supporting role on the island.
Administratively, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is divided into six parishes. Five parishes are on Saint Vincent, while the sixth is made up of the Grenadine islands. Kingstown is located in the Parish of Saint George and is the capital city and central administrative centre of the country. There is a small manufacturing sector and a small offshore financial sector whose particularly restrictive secrecy laws have caused some international concern. In addition, the natives of Bequia are permitted to hunt up to four humpback whales per year under IWC subsistence quotas.
Agriculture, dominated by banana production, is the most important sector of this lower-middle-income economy. The services sector, based mostly on a growing tourist industry, is also important. The government has been relatively unsuccessful at introducing new industries, and the unemployment rate remains high at 19.8% in the 1991 census to 15% in 2001. The continuing dependence on a single crop represents the biggest obstacle to the islands' development as tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of bananas in many years.
The tourism sector has considerable potential for development. The recent filming of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on the island has helped to expose the country to more potential visitors and investors. Recent growth has been stimulated by strong activity in the construction sector and an improvement in tourism.
In 2010, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had 21,700 telephone land lines. Its land telephone system is fully automatic and covers the entire island and all of the inhabited Grenadine islands.In 2002, there were 10,000 mobile phones.By 2010, this number had increased to 131,800. Mobile phone service is available in most areas of Saint Vincent as well as the Grenadines.
Saint Vincent has two ISPs (Digicel, Flow) that provide cellular telephone and internet service.