U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Grenada, April 1997
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
Official Name: Grenada
Area: 344 sq. km. (133 sq. mi.); about twice the size of Washington, DC.
Cities: Capital--St. George's (est. pop. 30,000).
Terrain: Volcanic island with mountainous rainforest.
Nationality: noun and adjective--Grenadian(s).
Population (1995 est.): 97,400.
Annual growth rate (1995): 0.45%.
Ethnic groups: African descent (82%), some South Asians (East Indians)
and Europeans, trace Arawak/Carib Indian.
Religions: Roman Catholic, Anglican, various Protestant denominations.
Languages: English (official).
Education: years compulsory--6. literacy--85% of adult population.
Health: infant mortality rate--12/1000. Life expectancy--71 yrs.
Work force (1993): 35,000: agriculture--33%; industry--17%; other--50%.
Unemployment (1996): 29%.
Type: constitutional monarchy with Westminster-style parliament.
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--magistrate's courts, Eastern Caribbean supreme court (high
court and court of appeals), final appeal to privy council in London.
Subdivisions: six parishes and one dependency (Carriacou and Petit
Major political parties: New National Party (NNP) (incumbent), National
Democratic Congress (NDC), Grenada United Labor Party (GULP).
Suffrage: universal at 18.
GDP(1995 est.): $276 million.
GDP growth rate: 2.8%.
Per capita GDP (1994): $2,840.
Agriculture: Products-- nutmeg, mace, cocoa, bananas, other fruits,
Industry: Types--manufacturing, hotel/restaurant, construction.
Trade: (1995) Merchandise exports: $21.6 million: nutmeg, mace, cocoa,
bananas, other fruits, vegetables. Major markets-- U.K., U.S. (24%),
CARICOM countries, Germany, Netherlands. Merchandise imports: $120
million: food, machinery, transport, manufactured goods, fuel.
Major suppliers-- U.S. (22%), CARICOM countries, U.K., Japan.
Official exchange rate: Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC) $2.70=U.S. $1.
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. The Anglican church is the largest Protestant
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 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 uncolonized 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 last of
whom leaped into the sea rather than surrender.
The island remained under French control until its capture by the
British in 1762, 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 Britain in 1783 by
the Treaty of Versailles. Although Britain was hard pressed to overcome
a pro-French revolt in 1795, 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 land holdings 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 (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 established close ties with Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other
In October 1983, a power struggle within the government resulted in the
arrest and subsequent murder of Bishop and several members of his
cabinet by elements of the people's revolutionary army. Following a
breakdown in civil order, a 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
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 Dr. Keith Mitchell. The leader of the
opposition in parliament is NDC leader George Brizan.
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
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
Grenada's political parties range from the moderate TNP, NNP, and NDC to
the left-of-center 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.
The economy of Grenada is based upon agricultural production (nutmeg,
mace, cocoa, and bananas) and tourism. Agriculture accounts for over
half of merchandise exports, and a large portion of the population is
employed directly or indirectly in agriculture. Recently, the
performance of the agricultural sector has not been good. Grenada's
banana exports declined markedly in volume and quality in 1996, and it
is a question to what extent the country will remain a banana exporter.
Tourism remains the key earner of foreign exchange.
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 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.
Security in Grenada is maintained by the 650 members of the Royal
Grenada Police Force (RGPF), which included an 80-member paramilitary
special services unit (SSU) and a 30-member coast guard. The U.S. army
and the U.S. coast guard provide periodic training and material support
for the SSU and the coast guard.
Principal Government Officials:
Head of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Sir Daniel C. Williams, GCMG, Q.C.
Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs, National Security, Home
Affairs, and Carriacou and Petit Martinique Affairs--Dr. Keith C.
Ambassador to the United States and OAS--Denis Antoine
Ambassador to the United Nations--Dr. Robert Millette
Grenada maintains an embassy in the United States at 1701 New Hampshire
Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009; (tel. 202-265-2561)
The United States, Venezuela, and Taiwan have embassies in Grenada. 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,
Grenada is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank, CARICOM, the
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the Commonwealth of
Nations. It joined the United Nations in 1974, and the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, and the Organization of American States in
1975. Grenada is also a member of the Eastern Caribbean's Regional
Security System (RSS).
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.
Grenada subsequently contributed 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 U.S. ambassador to Grenada is resident in Bridgetown, Barbados. The
embassy in Grenada is staffed by a charge 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, providing more than $120 million in
economic assistance from 1984 to 1993. Following the closure in July
1996 of the USAID regional mission for the Eastern Caribbean, U.S.
assistance is channeled primarily through multilateral agencies such as
the World Bank. About 10 Peace Corps volunteers in Grenada teach
remedial reading, English language skills, and vocational training.
Grenada also is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative. In
addition, Grenada receives counternarcotics 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
overflight/order-to-land amendment to the maritime law enforcement
treaty. Some U.S. military training is given to Grenadian security and
Grenada continues to be a popular destination for Americans. Of the
nearly 267,000 cruise ship passengers arriving in 1996, the majority
were U.S. citizens. In addition, there were more than 30,000 other U.S.
visitors in 1996. It is estimated that some 2,600 Americans reside in
the country. in addition, 800 U.S. medical students 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:
Ambassador--Jeanette W. Hyde
Deputy Chief of Mission--Donald K. Holm
Charge D'affaires--Dennis Carter
Political/Economic Counselor--Stephen R. Snow
Consul General--Philip M. Jones
Regional Labor Attache--Peggy Zabriskie
Defense Attache--Lt. Col. Donald Robinson
Economic-Commercial Officer--Leo Gallagher
Public Affairs Officer--Jennifer Clark
Peace Corps Director--David Styles (resident in St. Lucia)
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.
Other Contact Information:
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-1658; 800-USA-TRADE
Caribbean/Latin America Action
1818 N Street, NW; Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB).
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100.
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is
required). The CABB also carries international security information from
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see Principal
Government Officials listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous
areas, are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a
country (see Principal U.S. Embassy Officials listing in this
publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official weekly magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press
briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc.
DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov; this site has a
link to the DOSFAN Gopher Research Collection, which also is accessible
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
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