U.S. Department of State
Background Notes:  Grenada, March 1998
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.
Climate: Tropical.


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Grenadian(s).
Population (1996 est.): 98,900.
Annual growth rate (1996): 0.66%.
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--95% of adult population. 
Health: Infant mortality rate--14/1000. Life expectancy--71 yrs. 
Work force (1996): 42,300: Services/Tourism--47%. Industry--18%. 
Agriculture--8%.  Other--10%. Unemployment (1996)--17%. 


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 (1996 est.): $295 million.
GDP growth rate: 3.1%.
Per capita GDP (1996): $2,985.
Agriculture: Products-- nutmeg, mace, cocoa, bananas, other fruits, 
Industry: Types--manufacturing, hotel/restaurant, construction. 
Trade (1996): Merchandise exports--$19.4 million: nutmeg, mace, cocoa, 
bananas, other fruits, vegetables, fish. Major markets-- U.K., U.S., 
CARICOM countries, Germany, Netherlands. Merchandise imports--$152 
million: food, machinery, transport, manufactured goods, fuel. 
Major suppliers--U.S. (42%), 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 
communist-bloc countries.

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.


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 
appointed senate.

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 
universal suffrage.

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.

National Security

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 National Security, Home Affairs, and 
Carriacou and Petit Martinique Affairs--Dr. Keith C. Mitchell
Minister of External Affairs--Raphael Fletcher
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, 
and Canada.

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 

Prime Minister Mitchell joined President Clinton, in May 1997, for a 
meeting with 14 other Caribbean leaders during the first-ever U.S.-
regional summit in Bridgetown, Barbados. The summit strengthened the 
basis for regional cooperation on justice and counter-narcotics issues, 
finance and development, and trade.


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 
defense forces.

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, plus the 800 U.S. medical students who 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

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
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

Caribbean/Latin America Action
1818 N Street, NW; Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075


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 emergency. 

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 magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; 
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign 
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at 

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an 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. 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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