For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.
Area: 344 sq. km. (133 sq. mi.); about twice the size of Washington, DC.
Cities: Capital--St. George's (est. pop. 33,734).
Terrain: Three volcanic islands (Grenada and the smaller islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique) with mountainous rainforest.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Grenadian(s).
Population (2005 est.): 105,893.
Annual growth rate: 2004: -3.0%; 2005: +0.9%; 2006: +0.8%.
Ethnic groups: African descent (82%), some South Asians (East Indians) and Europeans, trace Arawak/Carib Indian.
Religions: Roman Catholic, various Protestant denominations, Islam, Rastafarianism.
Languages: English (official).
Education: Years compulsory--10 grades or age 16. Literacy--95% of adult population.
Health: Infant mortality rate--14/1,000. Life expectancy--72 yrs.
Work force: Leading employment sectors are services/tourism, government, industry, agriculture/fishing. Unemployment is likely over 10%.
Type: Constitutional monarchy with Westminster-style Parliament.
Independence: February 7, 1974.
Constitution: December 19, 1975.
Branches: Executive--governor general (represents British monarch, who is head of state; appointed by British monarch on the advice of the prime minister), prime minister (head of government, leader of majority party), and Cabinet direct a career civil service in the administration of the government. Legislative--Parliament composed of 15 directly elected members in the House of Representatives and a 13-seat Senate appointed by the governor general on the advice of the majority party and opposition. Judicial--magistrates' courts, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (high court and court of appeals), final appeal to Privy Council in London.
Subdivisions: Six parishes and two dependencies (Carriacou and Petit Martinique).
Major political parties: New National Party (NNP), incumbent; National Democratic Congress (NDC); Grenada United Labor Party (GULP).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
Economy (U.S. $)
GDP (2006 est.): $408.1 million.
GDP growth rate (2006 est.): 12.1%.
Per capita GDP (2006): $3,854.
Agriculture: Products--nutmeg, cocoa, bananas, other fruits, vegetables.
Industry: Types--tourism services, construction, education, manufacturing.
Trade (2005 proj.): Merchandise exports (f.o.b.)--$30.4 million: nutmeg, mace, cocoa, bananas, other fruits, vegetables, fish. Major markets--EU, U.S., OECS, CARICOM countries. Merchandise imports--$276 million: food, machinery, transport, manufactured goods, fuel. Major suppliers--U.S. (36.6%), CARICOM countries, U.K., Japan. Services exports (2006 proj.)--$42.3 million: tourism, education.
Transfers: $112.4 million (incl. remittances).
Total external debt outstanding (2004): $415 million.
Exchange rate: U.S. $1=EC $2.67.
Most of Grenada's population is of African descent; there is some trace of the early Arawak and Carib Indians. A few East Indians and a small community of the descendants of early European settlers reside in Grenada. About 50% of Grenada's population is under the age of 30. English is the official language; only a few people still speak French patois. A more significant reminder of Grenada's historical link with France is the strength of the Roman Catholic Church, to which about 60% of Grenadians belong.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Carib Indians who had driven the more peaceful Arawaks from the island inhabited Grenada. Columbus landed on Grenada in 1498 during his third voyage to the new world. He named the island "Concepcion." The origin of the name "Grenada" is obscure, but it is likely that Spanish sailors renamed the island for the city of Granada. By the beginning of the 18th century, the name "Grenada," or "la Grenade" in French, was in common use.
Partly because of the Caribs, Grenada remained un-colonized for more than 100 years after its discovery; early English efforts to settle the island were unsuccessful. In 1650, a French company founded by Cardinal Richelieu purchased Grenada from the English and established a small settlement. After several skirmishes with the Caribs, the French brought in reinforcements from Martinique and defeated the Caribs.
The island remained under French control until its capture by the British in 1762, during the Seven Years' War. The Treaty of Paris formally ceded Grenada to Great Britain in 1763. Although the French regained control in 1779, the Treaty of Versailles restored the island to Britain in 1783. Britain overcame a pro-French revolt in 1795, and Grenada remained British for the remainder of the colonial period.
During the 18th century, Grenada's economy underwent an important transition. Like much of the rest of the West Indies it was originally settled to cultivate sugar, which was grown on estates using slave labor. But natural disasters paved the way for the introduction of other crops. In 1782, Sir Joseph Banks, the botanical adviser to King George III, introduced nutmeg to Grenada. The island's soil was ideal for growing the spice, and because Grenada was a closer source of spices for Europe than the Dutch East Indies the island assumed a new importance to European traders.
The collapse of the sugar estates and the introduction of nutmeg and cocoa encouraged the development of smaller landholdings, and the island developed a land-owning yeoman farmer class. Slavery was outlawed in 1834. In 1833, Grenada became part of the British Windward Islands Administration. The governor of the Windward Islands administered the island for the rest of the colonial period. In 1958, the Windward Islands Administration was dissolved, and Grenada joined the Federation of the West Indies. After that federation collapsed in 1962, the British Government tried to form a small federation out of its remaining dependencies in the Eastern Caribbean.
Following the failure of this second effort, the British and the islands developed the concept of associated statehood. Under the Associated Statehood Act of 1967, Grenada was granted full autonomy over its internal affairs in March 1967. Full independence was granted on February 7, 1974.
After obtaining independence, Grenada adopted a modified Westminster parliamentary system based on the British model, with a governor general appointed by and representing the British monarch (head of state) and a prime minister who is both leader of the majority party and the head of government. Sir Eric Gairy was Grenada's first Prime Minister.
On March 13, 1979, the New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation Movement (New Jewel Movement--NJM), ousted Gairy in a coup and established a People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) headed by Maurice Bishop, who became Prime Minister. His Marxist-Leninist government established close ties with Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other communist bloc countries.
In October 1983, a power struggle within the government resulted in the arrest and execution of Bishop and several members of his Cabinet and the killing of dozens of his supporters by elements of the People's Revolutionary Army (PRA).
A U.S.-Caribbean force landed on Grenada on October 25, 1983 in response to an appeal from the Governor General and to a request for assistance from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. U.S. citizens were evacuated, and order was restored.
An advisory council named by the Governor General administered the country until general elections were held in December 1984. The New National Party (NNP) led by Herbert Blaize won 14 out of 15 seats in free and fair elections and formed a democratic government. Grenada's constitution had been suspended in 1979 by the PRG, but it was restored after the 1984 elections.
The NNP continued in power until 1989 but with a reduced majority. Five NNP parliamentary members, including two Cabinet ministers, left the party in 1986-87 and formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which became the official opposition.
In August 1989, Prime Minister Blaize broke with the NNP to form another new party, The National Party (TNP), from the ranks of the NNP. This split in the NNP resulted in the formation of a minority government until constitutionally scheduled elections in March 1990. Prime Minister Blaize died in December 1989 and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Ben Jones until after the elections.
The NDC emerged from the 1990 elections as the strongest party, winning seven of the 15 available seats. Nicholas Brathwaite added two TNP members and one member of the Grenada United Labor Party (GULP) to create a 10-seat majority coalition. The Governor General appointed him to be Prime Minister.
In parliamentary elections on June 20, 1995, the NNP won eight seats and formed a government headed by Keith Mitchell. The NNP maintained and affirmed its hold on power when it took all 15 parliamentary seats in the January 1999 elections.
General elections were held in November 2003; the NNP won 8 of the 15 seats, holding on to power with a much-reduced majority. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by Tillman Thomas won 7 seats and is now the official opposition.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Grenada is governed under a parliamentary system based on the British model; it has a governor general, a prime minister and a Cabinet, and a bicameral Parliament with an elected House of Representatives and an appointed Senate.
Citizens enjoy a wide range of civil and political rights guaranteed by the constitution. Grenada's constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully. Citizens exercise this right through periodic free and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage.
The political parties in Grenada are the New National Party (NNP), which remains moderate; the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which is now made up of some members of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) and the original NDC; the People's Labor Movement (PLM), which is a combination of members of the original NDC and the Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement (MBPM); and the Grenada United Labor Party (GULP). The National Party (TNP) and MBPM no longer exist.
Reconstruction from the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 and Hurricane Emily in July 2005 is a major political issue for the present government. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), launched in 2001 to investigate the period between the mid-1970s and the late 1980s, sent its report to the government in May 2006. The long-awaited (and two years overdue) report was only released to the public in mid-September 2006, when the government announced it would implement the TRC's recommendations. However, the government was vague on the details of how or when the recommendations would be implemented and called for additional public input.
The 800 members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), which includes an 80-member paramilitary special services unit (SSU) and a 30-member coast guard, maintain security in Grenada. The U.S. Army and the U.S. Coast Guard provide periodic training and material support for the SSU and the coast guard. The Departments of State and Treasury provide support to the Financial Investigative Unit (FIU).
Principal Government Officials
Head of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Sir Daniel C. Williams, G.C.M.G., Q.C.
Prime Minister--Dr. Keith C. Mitchell
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade--Elvin Nimrod
Ambassador to the United States and OAS--Denis G. Antoine
Ambassador to the United Nations--Ruth Rouse
Grenada maintains an embassy in the United States at 1701 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel: 202-265-2561).
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 on September 7, 2004. Thirty-seven people were killed by the hurricane, and approximately 8,000-10,000 left homeless. Hurricane Ivan damaged or destroyed 90% of the buildings on the island, including some tourist facilities. Overall damage totaled as much as 2.5 times annual GDP. Reconstruction has proceeded quickly, but much work remains. The United States has been the leading donor since the hurricane, 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 years. However, many hotels, restaurants, and other businesses have reopened and are prepared for the 2006-2007 tourist season. Predictions are for an increase in tourism in the coming season, although Grenada lags behind its neighbors in marketing the island overseas. Upcoming Cricket World Cup matches to be held on the island in the spring of 2007 have added a new impetus to the rebuilding. St. George's University, a large American medical and veterinary school with over 2,000 students, is in full operation.
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.
The United States, China, Cuba, and Venezuela have embassies in Grenada. In 2006, the United Kingdom's High Commissioner's office in Barbados took over responsibility for Grenada, maintaining only a staff in Grenada. Grenada has been recognized by most members of the United Nations and maintains diplomatic missions in the United States, Canada, China, Cuba, Belgium, United Kingdom and Venezuela.
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).
The U.S. Government established an Embassy in Grenada in November 1983. The U.S. Ambassador to Grenada is resident in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Embassy in Grenada is staffed by a Charg� d'Affaires who reports to the Ambassador in Bridgetown.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has played a major role in Grenada's development. In addition to the $45 million emergency aid for reconstruction from Hurricane Ivan, USAID provided more than $120 million in economic assistance from 1984 to 1993. About 25 Peace Corps volunteers in Grenada teach special education, remedial reading, and vocational training and assist with HIV/AIDS work. Grenada receives counter-narcotics assistance from the U.S. and benefits from U.S. military exercise-related construction and humanitarian civic action projects.
Grenada and the U.S. cooperate closely in fighting narcotics smuggling and other forms of transnational crime. In 1995, the U.S. and Grenada signed a maritime law enforcement treaty. In 1996, they signed a mutual legal assistance treaty and an extradition treaty as well as an over-flight/order-to-land amendment to the maritime law enforcement treaty. The United States continues to provide training, equipment, and materiel, including three vehicles in 2006, to Grenadian security and defense forces. Some U.S. military training is provided as well.
Grenada continues to be a popular destination for Americans. Of the 98,548 stayover visitors in 2005, 25,181 were U.S. citizens. It is estimated that some 2,600 Americans reside in the country, plus the 2,000 U.S. medical students who study at the St. George's University School of Medicine. (Those students are not counted as residents for statistical purposes.)
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials (all officials except the Charge are located at the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados)
Ambassador--Mary M. Ourisman
Deputy Chief of Mission--Meg Gilroy
Charge d'Affaires--Karen Jo McIsaac
Political/Economic Counselor--Sheila Peters
Consul General--Clyde Howard Jr.
Defense Attach�--Lee Bauer (resident in Caracas)
Regional Labor Attach�--Martina Strong
Economic-Commercial Affairs--Anthony Eterno
Public Affairs Officer--Julie O'Reagan
Peace Corps Director--Kate Rafferty (resident in St. Lucia)
The U.S. Embassy in Grenada is located on the Lance-aux-Epines Main Road, St. George's, Grenada; tel: 1-(473)-444-1173/4/5/6/7; fax: 1-(473)-444-4820, e-mail: email@example.com
The mailing address is P.O. Box 54, St. George's, Grenada, West Indies.
Other Contact Information
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230