Background Notes: Grenada

PA/PC Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Date: Nov 15, 199011/15/90 Category: Country Data Region: South America Country: Grenada Subject: Travel, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics [TEXT] November 1990 Official Name: Grenada


Area: 344 sq. km. (133 sq. mi.): about twice the size of Washington, DC. Cities: Capital-St. George's (pop. 30,000 est.). Terrain: Volcanic island with central mountainous rain forest. Climate: Tropical.
Nationality: Noun and adjective-Grenadian(s). Population (1989 est.): 98,000; 50% under age 25. Average annual growth rate (1977- 88): 0.7%. Ethnic groups: Mainly black African descent, few East Indian, few European, trace Arawak/Carib Indian. Religions: Roman Catholic (63%), Church of England, other Protestant denominations. Languages: English (official), some vestigial French patois. Education: Years compulsory-6. Literacy-95% of adult population. Health: Infant mortality rate-16.7/1,000. Life expectancy-68 yrs. Work force (1986 est.) 35,000: Agriculture-33%. Industry-17%. Other-50%.
Type: Independent state since February 7, 1974; recognizes the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as head of state. Administered by an interim government immediately following the ouster of the People's Revolutionary Government in October 1983, and returned to a Westminister-style parliamentary system through national elections in December 1984. Independence: February 7, 1974. Constitution: December 19, 1975. Branches: Governor general (appointed by and represents British monarch, head of state). Legislative-Parliament composed of a 15- seat directly elected House of Representatives, and a 13-seat Senate appointed by the governor general on the advice of the majority party and opposition. Executive-the prime minister (head of government, leader of majority party) and his cabinet direct an apolitical career civil service in the administration of the government. Judicial-Grenada Supreme Court, composed of the High Court of Justice and a Court of Appeals. Administrative subdivisions: Six parishes and one dependency (Carricou and Petit Martinique in the Grenadines). Political parties: National Democratic Congress (NDC), The National Party (TNP), New National Party (NNP), Grenada United Labor Party (GULP), Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement (MBPM), and the New Jewel Movement (NJM). Suffrage: Universal over 18. Central government budget (1989): $92.1 million. Recurrent expenditures-$59.2 million. Capital expenditures-$32.9 million. (Capital expenditures financed largely by foreign assistance.) National holiday: Independence Day-February 7. Flag: Red, yellow, and green with a nutmeg left of center.
GDP (1989 at current factor cost): $140 million. Annual growth rate: 1986, 5.5%; 1988, 5.3%; 1989, 5.6%. Per capita GDP (1989): $1,429. Inflation rate (1989): 3.7%. Agriculture (1989, 16.8% of GDP): Products-nutmeg, mace, cocoa, bananas, fruits, vegetables. Industry (1989): Types-manufacturing 5%, hotel/restaurant 6%, construction 10%. Trade: Exports-$28.1 million (1989): nutmeg, mace, cocoa, bananas, fruits, vegetables. Major markets (1988)-CARICOM countries 17%, UK 26%, FRG 14%, Netherlands 24%, US 10%. Imports-$100 million (1989): food, machinery and transport, manufactured goods, fuel. Major suppliers (1988)-US 26%, CARICOM 21%, UK 16%, Japan 6%. Official exchange rate: Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC)$2.7=US$1. Standard bank (buying) rate: EC$2.7=US$1. Fiscal year: Calendar year.
Membership in International Organizations
UN and some of its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), UNESCO, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Labor Organization (ILO), Universal Postal Union (UPU), World Health Organization (WHO); International Fisheries Service; Nonaligned Movement, Organization of American States (OAS); Caribbean Community and Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM); Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); Latin American Economic System (SELA).


Most of Grenada's population is of African descent; there is little 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. Total population in 1986 was estimated at 92,500, reflecting an annual increase of about 0.7% over the past decade. About 50% of Grenada's population are under the age of 25. English is the official language; only a few people still speak a French patois. A more significant reminder of Grenada's historical link with France is the strength of the Roman Catholic Church, to which 63% of Grenadians belong. The Church of England is the largest Protestant denomination.


Columbus discovered Grenada in 1498 during his third voyage to the New World. He named the island "Concepcion." The origin of the name "Grenada" is obscure. Legend has it that the Spanish renamed the island for the city of Grenada. By the beginning of the 18th century, the name "Grenada" was in common use. When discovered, Grenada was inhabited by Carib Indians who had driven the more peaceful Arawaks from the island. Partly because of the Caribs, Grenada remained uncolonized for more than 100 years after its discovery; British efforts to settle the island were unsuccessful. In 1650, a French company founded by Cardinal Richelieu purchased Grenada from the British and established a small settlement. After several skirmishes with the Caribs, the French brought in reinforcements from Martinique and slaughtered the entire Indian population. The island remained under French control until captured by the British a century later during the Seven Year's War. Grenada was formally ceded to Great Britain in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. Although the French regained control in 1779, the island was restored to Great Britain in 1783 by the Treaty of Versailles. During the 18th century, Grenada's economy underwent an important transition. Like the rest of the West Indies, it was originally settled to cultivate sugar, which was grown on estates using slave labor. However, natural disasters paved the way for the introduction of other crops. A plague of ants, followed by a hurricane, virtually destroyed the sugar industry. 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 land holdings. The island developed a landowning yeoman farmer class; slavery was outlawed in 1833. In 1833, Grenada was made 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 the federation collapsed in 1962, the British government attempted to form a small federation out of their 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, six British dependencies in the eastern Caribbean (Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, and St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla) were granted full autonomy over their internal affairs. Great Britain retained responsibility for their defense and external affairs. Grenada became an associated state on March 3, 1967, but sought full independence, which the British government 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 (New Jewel) Movement ousted Gairy in a nearly bloodless coup and established a People's Revolutionary Government (PRG), headed by Maurice Bishop, who became prime minister. His Marxist-Leninist government moved to establish close ties to Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other communist bloc countries. In October 1983, a power struggle within the government resulted in the arrest and subsequent execution of Prime Minister Bishop and several members of his cabinet by elements of the People's Revolutionary Army. Following a breakdown in civil order, a multilateral, joint US-Caribbean force landed in Grenada on October 25 in response to an appeal from the governor general and to a request for assistance from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. US citizens were evacuated, order was restored, and US forces withdrew. 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 a strong parliamentary majority and formed Grenada's first democratic government since 1979.


Grenada is governed under a parliamentary system inherited from the British (see PROFILE). Grenada's constitution was suspended in 1979 by the PRG but restored after the October 1983 intervention by the United States and Caribbean countries. The NNP won 14 out of 15 seats in free and fair elections in 1984. It continued in power until 1989, but with a reduced majority because of the defections in 1986 of two of its parliamentary members and the April 13, 1987, resignations of three additional parliamentary members (including two cabinet ministers). These five parliament members formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and became the official opposition. In August 1989, Prime Minister Blaize broke with the NNP to form a new party, The National Party (TNP), from the ranks of the NNP. The split in the NNP resulted in the formation of a minority government with the TNP controlling only six seats in the parliament. Shortly thereafter, the prime minister suspended the parliament pending constitutionally scheduled elections held March 13, 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 March elections as the strongest party, winning 7 of the 15 available seats. The governor general appointed Nicholas Brathwaite, who successfully forged a majority coalition giving the NDC 10 seats, as the new prime minister. The opposition consists of three members of the Grenada United Labor Party (GULP) and two members of the NNP, two TNP members and one GULP member having joined the NDC in the government. In 1985, the parliament restored the 1974 independence constitution and legitimized the court system inherited from its predecessors, who had ruled by decree. Political and civil rights are fully guaranteed by the government. Political parties range from the moderate TNP, NNP, and NDC to the Marxist Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement (MBPM) (organized by the pro-Bishop survivors of the October 19, 1983, anti-Bishop coup), the New Jewel Movement (NJM), and the populist GULP of former prime minister Gairy. The MBPM and the NJM are not represented in the parliament.
Principal Government Officials
Nicholas Brathwaite-Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs, National Security, Home Affairs, Carriacou and Petit Martinique Affairs. Ambassador to the United States-Denneth Modeste Grenada maintains an embassy in the United States at 1701 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-265- 2561).


The Grenadian economy grew by 5.6% in 1989, following an annual growth rate of 5.3% in 1988. This rate is expected to remain constant in 1990 as the tourism and construction sectors continue their strong performance. The agriculture sector is expected to rebound modestly from its poor showing in 1989 as well. The gross domestic product (GDP) at current factor cost in 1989 was $140 million, and per capita income was $1,429. Exports decreased from $32.9 million in 1988 to $28.1 million in 1989, a decrease of 14.7%. Domestic exports in 1988 totaled $28.4 million, while re-exports amounted to $4.5 million. Ninety percent of domestic exports involved agricultural commodities, the value of which fell slightly from 1988 to 1989 as production of some of the major export commoditites declined. Total imports were $99.6 million in 1989, an increase of $7 million over 1988 (or 7.6%). Although declining in importance, agriculture remains the single most important sector of the economy. In 1989, it accounted for 16.8% of GDP, 85% of domestic exports, and one-third of the work force. Agriculture is expected to grow by more than 3% in 1990. Other significant growth sectors in 1989 were construction and manufacturing with growth rates of 15% and 12%, respectively. The manufacturing sector is small, accounting for 5.5% of GDP in 1989. It is expected to grow by 10% in 1990, stimulated by several new assembly industries. The construction industry, which began to expand in 1984 mainly as a result of externally financed infrastructure and other public works projects, was helped further in 1989 by growth in housing. Growth in construction continued through 1989 and is expected to reach a rate of 10% in 1990. Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange but modest in its overall contribution to GDP. The number of tourist arrivals decreased by 4.2% to 192,172 in 1989 as a result of a sharp decrease in cruise ship arrivals. However, the number of stayover visitors increased by 11% to 66,596. Expenditure by tourists in 1988 was estimated at about $45.6 million. The initiation of daily American Airlines flights between Puerto Rico and Grenada in June 1990 should help to speed development of the tourism sector. Grenada has benefitted from the Caribbean Basin Initiative through the establishment of a number of "twin plants" in the export processing zone. Granada also has ratified a bilateral investment treaty and a tax information exchange agreement with the United States.


Security in Grenada is maintained by the 650 members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), which includes an 80-man paramilitary Special Services Unit (SSU) and a 30-man coast guard unit. The US Army and the US Coast Guard provide periodic training for the SSU and the coast guard.


The United States, Venezuela, and Taiwan have embassies in Grenada. The government of the United Kingdom is represented by a resident commissioner (as opposed to the governor general, who represents the British monarch). Grenada has been recognized by most members of the United Nations and maintains diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela, and Canada. Grenada is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the British Commonwealth. It joined the United Nations in 1974, and the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization of American States in 1975.


The US government established an embassy in Grenada on November 1, 1983. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has played a major role in Grenada's development since then, providing more than $120 million in economic assistance. There are about 30 Peace Corps volunteers in Grenada; they teach remedial reading. Some US military training is given to Grenadian security and defense forces.
Principal US Officials
Charge d'Affaires-designate-Russell Surber Economic Officer-William H. Memler Administrative Officer-Edmee Pastore Political Officer-Mary Ann Wright Consular-Charles Jones Peace Corps-Carol Cook The US embassy is located at Point Salinas, Grenada. The mailing address is P.O. Box 54, St. George's, Grenada, West Indies.


Climate: The climate is tropical and, although uncomfortably humid at times, is not unhealthful. A mild, dry season lasts from January to May, with night temperatures dropping to 16 C-18 C (60 F-65 F). During the rest of the year, there are frequent rain showers. The temperature rises to 32 C (90 F), and the humidity is high night and day. Rainfall varies from 152 centimeters (60 in.) per year in the coastal districts to 381-508 centimeters (150-200 in.) in the mountains. The Grenadines islands tend to be drier than Grenada. Carriacou, for example, has an average rainfall of about 127 centimeters (50 in.) a year. Entry requirements: Proof of citizenship with photo ID is required by US citizens, but a visa is not necessary for a stay of less than 3 months. No immunizations are required. Currency: Grenada belongs to the Eastern Caribbean Currency Authority and uses the EC dollar. Barclay's Bank International and the Bank of Nova Scotia have branch offices in St. George's. Transportation: Point Salines International Airport is served several times daily by Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) from Barbados, Trinidad, and St. Vincent. British West Indian Airways (BWIA) also provides regular service from Trinidad, New York, and Miami as well as weekly service from New York. American Airlines has begun daily service from Puerto Rico. British Airways has one flight weekly from London. Published by the United States Department of State --Bureau of Public Affair --Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC -- November 1990 -- Editor: Marilyn J. Bremner Department of State Publication 8822 -- Background Notes Series -- This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.(###)