U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BACKGROUND NOTES: GRENADA
PUBLISHED BY THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Official Name: Grenada
Area: 344 sq. km. (133 sq. mi.); about twice the size of Washington,
Cities: Capital--St. George's (est.
Terrain: Volcanic island with mountainous rainforest.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Grenadian(s).
Population (est.): 94,000; 50% under age 30.
Annual growth rate: 0.6%.
Ethnic groups: Mainly black African descent (82%), few East Indian, few
European, trace Arawak/Carib Indian.
Religions: Roman Catholic, Church of England, other Protestant
Languages: English (official).
Education: Years compulsory--6. Literacy--90% of adult population.
Health: Infant mortality rate--17/1,000. Life expectancy--68 yrs.
Work force (1993): 35,000. Agriculture--33%. Industry--17%. Other--
Type: Westminster-style parliamentary system.
Independence: February 7, 1974.
Constitution: December 19, 1975.
Branches: Executive--governor general (appointed by and represents
British monarch, head of state); prime minister (head of government,
leader of majority party) and cabinet direct an apolitical 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--Supreme
Court, composed of the High Court of Justice and a Court of Appeals;
magistrates for misdemeanors.
Subdivisions: Six parishes and one dependency.
Political parties: National Democratic Congress (NDC), The National
Party (TNP), New National Party (NNP), Grenada United Labor Party
(GULP), Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement (MBPM), Initiative for Better
Government (IBR), and New Republican Party (NRP).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP: $174 million.
Annual growth rate: 0.7%.
Per capita GDP: $1,800.
Agriculture: Products--bananas, nutmeg, mace, cocoa, other fruits,
Industry: Types--manufacturing, hotel/restaurant, construction.
Trade: Exports--$19.8 million: bananas, nutmeg, mace, cocoa, other
fruits, vegetables. Major markets--U.K. 26%, U.S. 25%, CARICOM
countries 17%, Germany 14%, Netherlands 10%. Imports--$177 million:
food, machinery and transport, manufactured goods, fuel. Major
suppliers--U.S. 26%, CARICOM countries 21%, U.K. 16%, Japan 6%.
Official exchange rate: Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC) $2.70=U.S. $1.
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. Population is about 94,000. About 50% of Grenada's population
are under the age of 30. 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 about 60% of Grenadians belong. The Church of
England is the largest Protestant denomination.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Grenada was inhabited by Carib Indians
who had driven the more peaceful Arawaks from the island. 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. Legend has it that the Spanish renamed the island for the city
of Granada. By the beginning of the 18th century, the name "Grenada"
was in common use.
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
The island remained under French control until its capture by the
British a century later, during the Seven Years' 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 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 land holdings. The island developed a land-owning 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 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, 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 U.S.-
Caribbean force landed on 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. 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 with
TNP controlling only six seats in the parliament. Shortly thereafter,
the Prime Minister suspended the parliament pending constitutionally
scheduled elections to be held 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 GULP member to create a 10-seat majority coalition. The
governor general appointed him to be Prime Minister.
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 cabinet, and a
bicameral parliament with an elected House of Representatives and an
As part of its 1985 restoration of the constitution, the parliament
legitimized the court system inherited from its predecessors, who had
ruled by decree. Political and civil rights are fully guaranteed by the
Grenada's 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 1983 anti-Bishop coup) and the
populist GULP of former Prime Minister Gairy.
Security in Grenada is maintained by the 650 members of the Royal
Grenada Police Force (RGPF), which includes an 80-member paramilitary
special services unit (SSU) and a 30-member coast guard unit. The U.S.
Army and the U.S. Coast Guard provide periodic training for the SSU and
the coast guard.
Principal Government Officials
Head of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Sir Reginald Palmer
Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs, National Security, Home
Affairs, and Carriacou and Petit Martinique Affairs--Nicholas Brathwaite
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).
Economic growth in 1993 was modest (0.7%) in spite of a strong
performance by the tourism sector, which grew by 15%. GDP for 1993 was
$174 million. Grenada's exports declined for the year; domestic exports
were $15.8 mil-lion, and re-exported products accounted for $3.9
million. At $177 million, Grenada's imports were nine times the level
of its exports. The U.S. was the country's largest supplier, providing
26% of all imports.
Grenada is 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 get 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. Among the types of surcharges and other
levies that can be assessed on imports, a value added tax (VAT)--which
ranges from 5%-52%--is the largest. Certain goods and services, such as
basic foodstuffs, are exempted from VAT. Combined duties and levies on
U.S. imports range from zero on essential goods and raw materials to
about 100% for some luxury goods.
Tourism accounted for 27% of the country's 1993 GDP. Based on the
opening of two large hotels in December 1993, the sector is expected to
grow by another 25% in 1994. Americans are the largest group of
tourists, representing about one out of every three visitors.
Grenada's agriculture grew slightly in real terms from 1992-93 and
contributed 14% to 1993 GDP. For 1992-93, the country's manufacturing
(5% of 1993 GDP) fell slightly in real terms. The major causes of
manufacturing's decline were critical shortages of water and electricity
in industrial areas. Manufacturing for domestic consumption faced
strong competition from imported products, mostly because of CARICOM's
lowered tariffs. High wages relative to other Caribbean producers
lowered some companies' productivity.
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, 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
As a member of CARICOM, Grenada strongly backed efforts by the United
States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, designed to
facilitate the departure of Haiti's de facto authorities from power.
The country agreed to contribute personnel to the Multinational Force,
which restored the democratically elected Government of Haiti in October
The U.S. Government established an embassy in Grenada in November 1983.
The ambassador for Grenada also is accredited to Barbados and is
resident in Bridgetown, Barbados. The embassy in Grenada is to be
staffed by a principal officer who reports to the ambassador in
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has played a major
role in Grenada's development, providing more than $120 million in
economic assistance. About 30 Peace Corps volunteers in Grenada teach
remedial reading. Some U.S. military training is given to Grenadian
security and defense forces.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador-designate--Jeanette W. Hyde
The U.S. embassy in Grenada is located on Maurice Bishop Highway, Point
Salines, St. George's, Grenada (tel: 809-444-1173; fax: 809-444-4820).
The mailing address is P.O. Box 54, St. George's, Grenada, West Indies.
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