Grenada is an island nation of 84,000 people (1992) located at 12° 10′ N and 61°40′ W, making it the most southerly of the Windward Islands. It maintains a nearly constant average temperature of 29° C year-round, and precipitation is generally plentiful (150 centimeters in the lowlands to more than 350 centimeters on the windward mountainsides).
Besides the island of Grenada itself, there are several hundred small islands belonging to the country, although only two, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, have significant populations; the nation's total land area is 344 square kilometers. The population has remained stable since 1980 because although the birthrate is high, many people emigrate to other Caribbean islands, Canada, Britain, and the United States in search of employment. All but 9 percent of the population is Black, descendants of African slaves brought by the French and the British to work on plantations. Sixty-five percent of the population is Catholic, and the remaining 35 percent is Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist. Political and economic power has long rested with an elite group of White and light-skinned people who constitute no more than 5 percent of the population. In 1992 infant mortality was 28 per thousand, and life expectancy was 69 years for females and 74 years for males.
Grenada was originally populated by the Carib Indians. It was briefly in the hands of the Spanish, who gave it its name. Later, it was settled by the French, who conquered the Carib and who grew indigo and sugar. The British conquered the island in 1762. As a result of the Seven Years' War, Grenada became French from 1779 to 1783, at which time the Treaty of Versailles returned it to Britain. Many people remained loyal to the French, however, and some of them attacked the British settlers in what came to be designated the Rebellion of 1795. English is presently the official language, but some people still speak a French patois. Universal adult franchise was instituted in 1950 and led to the election of Eric Matthew Gairy, who appealed to the interests of the peasantry. With the exception of one brief period, Gairy held power until 1979, when Maurice Bishop came to power in a coup. He promised employment, food, housing, education, and free elections, although he quickly suspended the constitution and instituted laws designed to suppress free expression of political ideas. His socialist polices largely failed owing to the inability of Grenada to attract foreign investment. An internal government power struggle in 1983 cost Bishop his life and allowed more radical Marxists to take control. Popular resentment of the new government led to popular uprisings and, on 25 October 1983, U.S. military intervention. The constitution and popular elections were restored; Herbert Blaize served as prime minister from 1984 to 1990, and Nicholas Braithwaite assumed the post in 1990. Although politically independent, Grenada maintains the British monarch as head of state.
The gross domestic product has been rising since 1984. Since the removal of the Marxists, emphasis has been placed upon privatization of wealth and industry, with the aim of attracting foreign investors and increased production for export. A new airport has also been opened in the capital city of Saint George's, which has increased tourism and exports. The traditional base of the economy has long been the export of mace and nutmeg, which has earned Grenada the nickname "the Spice Isle." The buyers of most of Grenada's products are the United States, Britain, and the Caribbean and European economic communities.
Brizan, George I. (1984). Grenada, Island of Conflict: From Amerindians to People's Revolution, 1498-1979. London: Zed Books.
Smith, M. G. (1965). Stratification in Grenada. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Steele, Beverley A. (1983). Grenada Bibliography. Marryshow House Publications, no. 2. St. George's: University of the West Indies, Grenada, Extra Mural Dept.