Profile Source: Wallace Revels
Introduction / History
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a collection of 32 islands situated in the Eastern Caribbean at the southern end of the Windward Islands chain. It is an archipelago of islands, St. Vincent being the largest, with the smaller Grenadines comprising Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Union Island, Palm Island, Petit St. Vincent and a number of small islets. The country covers approximately 384km², and has a total population of 111,380 (1998). The capital, Kingstown, has a population of 25,000. The topography is quite mountainous, with average temperature of 27° C, and annual rainfall of 2100 mm. The official language is English, with a majority of the population being functionally literate. The currency used is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), with an exchange rate that fluctuates but can be as little as thirty cents to the US dollar. (2)
Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century. Enslaved Africans, whether shipwrecked or escaped from Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada, intermarried with the Caribs and became known as Garifuna or Black Caribs.
In 1763, St. Vincent was ceded to Britain. Restored to French rule in 1779, St. Vincent was regained by the British under the Treaty of Paris (1783) in which Great Britain officially recognized the end of the American Revolution. Ancillary treaties were also signed with France and Spain, known as the Treaties of Versailles of 1783, part of which put St. Vincent back under British control.
Conflict between the British and the Black Caribs, led by defiant Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer, continued until 1796, when General Sir Ralph Abercromby crushed a revolt fomented by the French radical Victor Hugues. More than 5,000 Black Caribs were eventually deported to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras.
From 1763 until independence, St. Vincent passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorized in 1776, Crown Colony government installed in 1877, a legislative council created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage granted in 1951. (3)
Where are they Located?
St. Vincent & the Grenadines is a nation of 32 islands located in the Lesser Antilles area of the eastern Caribbean Sea between St. Lucia (24 miles to the north) and Grenada (75 miles to the south). The largest and northernmost island is St. Vincent (about 133 square miles) which has a forest-covered mountainous interior that is dominated by La Soufriere, a 4,000ft tall active volcano. On the south west coast is Kingstown, the nation's capital.
The remaining Grenadines lie to the south of St. Vincent. The largest and most populated are Bequia, Mustique, Canouan and Union Island. Young Island is a small private island right off the coast of Kingstown, St. Vincent. Smaller inhabited islands include Mayreau, Palm Island and Petit St. Vincent. The Tobago Cays is a marine park located to the east of Mayreau and is a collection of five tiny islands, sheltered lagoons and coral reefs. (3)
What are Their Lives Like?
St. Vincent and the Grenadines enjoy a tropical climate with the hottest and most humid months being June through September when temperatures reach an average high of 86°F. The most popular months for tourism are December through May when the climate is more moderate (although trade winds provide a welcome breeze all year round). The driest months are January through May and the wettest month is July. There is a theoretical risk of hurricanes between July and November though they usually pass to the north of the islands.
The small private islands of Palm Island and Petit St. Vincent have 110V 60Hz electricity supplies and use a US style 2 pin system. All other islands have 220/240V 50Hz supplies and use a UK style 3 pin system. There is extensive mobile telephone service found throughout the islands. St.Vincent and the Grenadines is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-4) and daylight savings time is not practiced.
It is illegal to wear camouflage clothing in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. Driving in St. Vincent & the Grenadines is on the left according to British tradition. Visitors are required to purchase a temporary license for EC$65 and must be able to produce a domestic driving license. The official language is English and an English-based Vincentian dialect is widely spoken. Visitors to St.Vincent and the Grenadines must be in possession of a valid passport and a return or onward ticket. Visas are required from nationals of The Dominican Republic, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The People's Republic of China, Iraq, Iran and Nigeria. A Departure Tax of EC$40 per person must be paid by all visitors who have been in the country for 24 hours or more.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an independent parliamentary democracy and member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Their parliamentary and legislative systems are derived from the British model with 15 elected representatives, 4 senators and a prime minister serving a maximum 5-year term of office. Queen Elizabeth II is represented by a Governor General. The Government's website is found at www.gov.vc.
Formerly comprising a strong agricultural base with bananas serving as the chief export crop, the economy of St.Vincent and the Grenadines is increasingly dependent on tourism which is now the nation's primary source of overseas exchange.
The culture of the islands is dominated by the traditions of the African people that form the vast majority of the citizenry. Many traditional dance, artistic, craft, musical, and style of dress examples can be seen throughout the islands. Modern music, art, dress, and entertainment is also common. Many festivals take place throughout the year on the islands. Many activities geared toward tourism are available.
Island cuisine is rich and plentiful. Native fruits and vegetables are utilized to form vast menus available at markets, restaurants, and resorts. In addition to chicken and many varieties of seafood, goat is also on most menus. (3)
What are Their Beliefs?
Anglican Protestantism constitutes about half of the religious practice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Methodist and Roman Catholicism make up the majority of the remaining groups. There is a small group of Rastafarians practicing in these as well as many of the Caribbean islands. (1)
A combination of African mystical and Christian liturgical practices is also represented on the islands known as Spiritual Baptists. This small group engages in many rituals and ceremonies to ward off evil and to protect their homes and families from the dangers of the nether world. (4)
What are Their Needs?
Like any nation, St. Vincent and the Grenadines need clear, accurate, and consistent presentation of the Bible for evangelism and instruction. Patient evangelism, instruction, and discipleship equipping the local people for outreach to their friends and neighbors will benefit the islands the same as it will anywhere else in the world.
* Pray that God will send missionaries dedicated to doing God's work among these island people.
* Pray God will appoint locals to evangelize the other islands in the area.
* Pray that the established religions in the islands are Biblical and dedicated to living the word of God before this somewhat isolated population.
* Pray that these islands will become a central location of evangelism and discipleship for the Caribbean island region.
(1) Used with permission
(2) Used with permission
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