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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, usually called simply Saint Vincent, is an island country which is situated in the eastern Caribbean Sea in the Lesser Antilles. It consists of the island of Saint Vincent and the northernmost two-thirds of the island chain called the Grenadines, including Young Island, Bequia, Mustique, Union Island, Canouan, Palm Island, Mayreau, and Petit St. Vincent, as well as numerous uninhabited islands, islets, and cays.

It is a sovereign state which is governed as a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy with the kin or queen of England as its head of state. The capital is Kingstown, which is also their main port. While the official language is English, most people speak Vincentian Creole.

Approximately 66% of those who inhabit Saint Vincent are descendants of Africans who were enslaved and brought to the island to labor on the sugar plantations. 19% are mixed, 6% are Indian, 4% are European, and 2% are Caribs.

The island of Saint Vincent was inhabited by the Island Caribs, usually called simply "Caribs." It was sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1498 and named after Saint Vincent of Saragossa. The name Grenadines is a the Spanish word for pomegranate, which Columbus deemed as being roughly the shape of the chain.

Columbus did not try to colonize the island for Spain, nor did anyone else until 1635 when a Dutch slave ship sank near the island. The West Africans who were on board freed themselves and raced ashore. They joined with other escaped slaves from Grenada, Barbados, and Saint Lucia to form a community. Over time, they intermarried with the Amerindian locals, forming a new ethnic group called Black Caribs or Garifuna.

The Caribs successfully fended off frequent attempts by the Dutch, British, and French to settle, but in the early 1700s, they finally did allow a small number of French settle on the west coast. The Treaty of 1763 granted Britain control of Saint Vincent, and they began settling there, despite the fact that the Caribs did not accept British sovereignty.

This is what led to the First Carib War in 1769. The English continually demanded that the Caribs sell their land to the representatives of the British colonial government and the Cribs repeatedly declined. In 1772, the frustrated British finally mounted a full-out military assault upon the Caribs with the goal of being victorious over the Caribs and deporting them from the island. They were no match for the defenses of the Caribs, though, and in 1773, the two sides signed a peace agreement that fixed the boundaries and who would be living in each area.

In 1779, while the British were busy fighting the American Revolutionary War, France captured Saint Vincent, but in 1783, it was restored to the British per the Treaty of Paris. The Caribs had a long-standing list of grievances against the colonial British which were, it seemed, incurable. In the spring of 1795, the Caribs won back control of most of Saint Vincent, with the exception of Kingstown and the surrounding area. The arrival of British reinforcements had made the Carib abandon the fight for awhile. But the English did continue to try to penetrate the interior, only to be confronted with the Caribs' defenses once again, along with disease and the late arrival of French troops from Martinique who sided with the Caribs. A major British military assault was made on the Caribs in 1797, and this one was successful for the British who deported the Caribs to the island of Roatán where they were known as the Garifuna people.

The victorious British continued the island's industry of sugar, coffee, tobacco, cotton, and indigo plantations, all maintained with slave labor until 1838 when slaves in the English colonies were fully emancipated. The economy went into a tailspin then, and many landowners abandoned their plantations. The freed slaves, in many cases, cultivated the abandoned land. The labor void was eventually filled in part by the importation of East Indians, Barbadian whites, and Portuguese.

In the second half of the 20th century,1951, Vincentians gained much moire control over their lives when universal suffrage was granted by Queen Elizabeth II.

It was granted associate statehood status in 1969, allowing them absolute control over its internal affairs. In 1979, a referendum was held across Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and independence won.

 

 

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