Grenada: History, Culture & Economy

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Grenada (pronounced /ɡrɨˈneɪdə/) is an island country and sovereign state consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. Grenada is located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago, northeast of Venezuela, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Grenada is also known as the “Island of Spice” due to the production of nutmeg and mace crops of which Grenada is one of the world’s largest exporters.

Its size is 344 square kilometres (133 sq mi), with an estimated population of 110,000. Its capital is St. George’s. The national bird of Grenada is the critically endangered Grenada Dove.

The warlike Carib Indians dominated Grenada when Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1498 and named it Concepción; the Caribs ruled it for the next 150 years. In the early 1670s it became subject to the French crown and remained so until 1762, when British forces captured it. In 1833 the island’s black slaves were freed. Grenada was the headquarters of the government of the British Windward Islands (1885 – 1958) and a member of the West Indies Federation (1958 – 62). It became a self-governing state in association with Britain in 1967 and gained its independence in 1974.

In 1979 a left-wing government took control in a bloodless coup. Relations with its U.S.-oriented Latin American neighbours became strained as Grenada leaned toward Cuba and the Soviet bloc. In order to counter this trend, the U.S. invaded the island in 1983; democratic self-government was reestablished in 1984. Grenada’s relations with Cuba, once suspended, were restored in 1997.

Although French influence on Grenadian culture is much less visible than on other Caribbean islands, surnames and place names in French remain, and the every day language 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 and Carib Amerindian influence is also seen with dhal puri, rotis, Indian sweets, cassava and curries in the cuisine.

Grenada relies on tourism as its main source of foreign exchange, especially since the construction of an international airport in 1985. Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005) severely damaged the nutmeg industry, which was previously a key driver of economic growth, and the industry is not expected to recover in the near-term. The agricultural sector, particularly nutmeg and cocoa cultivation, has gradually recovered from the hurricanes, and the tourism sector has seen substantial increases in foreign direct investment as the regional share of the tourism market increases.

Strong performances in construction and manufacturing, together with the development of an offshore financial industry, have also contributed to growth in national output; however, economic growth has slowed since 2009 because of the global economic slowdown’s effects on tourism and remittances. Grenada has rebounded from the devastating effects of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily, but is now saddled with the debt burden from the rebuilding process. Public debt-to-GDP is nearly 110%, leaving the THOMAS administration limited room to engage in public investments and social spending.

Notes from Wikipedia and Answers.com

A'Keiba Burrell
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