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The island nation of Grenada is situated in the West Indies, in the eastern Caribbean Sea approximately 100 miles north of the coast of Venezuela. It consists of the main island of Grenada and six smaller islands located at the southern portion of the Grenadines island chain.

It is a sovereign state and its capital of Grenada is St. George's which is the main port and located on the southwest coast. It is a constitutional monarchy, with a governor-general appointed by the British monarchy as the head of state, nominally speaking. It has a bicameral legislative body, and executive authority rests with a prime minister. Senators are appointed by the governor-general with the advice of the prime minister as well as the opposition. The House of Representatives, which is the lower house, is elected by the people.

Tourism and agriculture are the most important pieces of the economy. Bananas, cocoa, nutmeg, and mace are some of the exports from the island nation. Grenada is the largest exporter of nutmeg and mace. This fact is the basis for their nickname, "Island of Spice."Additionally, the United Kingdom is a major financial support.

English is the official language, with recognized regional patois of Grenadian Creole French and Grenadian Creole English.

Most of the population, nearly 90%, of Grenada is black or mulatto as most are descended from African slaves. The next largest ethnicity of Grenadians is East Indian and are descendants of indentured servants who were brought to Grenada in order to replace freed slaves. The rest are descendants of early settlers who were French or English, as well as more recent immigrants from Europe and from North America.

Christopher Columbus was the first European to site Grenada, that sighting occurring on August 15, 1498. He did not stop, but mapped it, calling it ConcepciĆ³n. The islands were dominated by the Carib for more than 150 years. The carib were "warlike," people and had killed off the Arawak people, who were known to be peaceful.

A group of British merchants tried to establish a settlement but were forced to evacuate by the Caribs.

France bought Grenada in 1650, and the settlement of St. George's was established.

The British took it over in 1763, per the Treaty of Paris. In 1779, the French recaptured it, but it went back to Britain in 1783.

The British imported slaves to work in the sugar plantations, and in 1796, French policy was in favor of the abolition of slavery. A rebellion of British rule took place, with rebels killing the lieutenant governor and others. The rebellion was put down. In 1833, the emancipation of slaves finally happened.

Grenada became self-governing in association with the UK in 1967. That transition was an uneasy one. Labor strikes and violence were rampant, and Prime Minister Eric Gairy was disliked by most.

In 1974, the United Kingdom granted Grenada independence within the Commonwealth of Nations.

A loose coalition of opposition parties called the New Jewel Movement gained strength. They removed those they disagreed with from the legislature, and in 1979, Gairy was out of the country and the NJM mounted a bloodless coup. They declared the People's Revolutionary Government and named their own prime minister, Maurice Bishop, who had been a leader in the recent coup. Bishop suspended the constitution and had numerous political prisoners detained.

The new government, unpopular with western countries, was based on socialist principles and was getting its aid from Fidel Castro in Cuba. They began to rebuild the economy which was in absolute disarray from the chaos in the country.

Meanwhile, the United States began to worry about the Cuban presence in Grenada. In March of 1993, President Regan began warning the public about the "Soviet Cuban militarization" of the island and the idea that the airport being constructed was going to become a Cuban-Soviet forward military base.

In 1983, a military coup took the government back, killing Bishop in the process, along with his pregnant wife, two union leaders, and three cabinet members.

Within the week, the United States led an invasion of the island dubbed Operation Urgent Fury. The U.S. announced tat they had been asked by Barbados, Jamaica, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to intervene on Grenada.

They were tasked with returning power to England, but first, they had to free the newly-appointed governor-general Sir Paul Scoon from the Governor-general's residence where he was under house arrest.

Scoon, who had been appointed governor-general by Queen Elizabeth II in 1978 just before the first and bloodless coup, had been named to represent the Queen. He and those rescued with him were evacuated on the first day of the invasion.

A peace-keeping force remained in Grenada until 1985.

 

 

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