St. Vincent/Grenadines

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St. Vincent/Grenadines

At a Glance

Official Name: St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Continent: South America

Area: 131 square miles (340 sq. km)

Population: 115,942

Capital City: Kingstown

Largest City: Kingstown (15,670)

Unit of Money: East Caribbean dollar

Major Languages: English (official), French patois

Literacy: 96%

Land Use: 10% arable, 18% permanent crops, 5% pastures, 36% forests, 31% other

Natural Resources: None

Government: Constitutional monarchy

Defense: 3.2 million

The Place

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the West Indies about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. The Atlantic Ocean lies off the eastern coastlines of the islands. The country consists of the island of Saint Vincent and about 100 small islands of the Grenadine chain, including Bequia, Canouan, Mustique, and Union. Saint Vincent is a mountainous island formed by volcanic eruptions. At 4,048 feet (1,234 meters), Mount Soufriere, an active volcano on the northern end of Saint Vincent, is the country's highest point. The Grenadines are mainly flat coral reefs. Tropical vegetation covers much of the land. Because of strong northeast winds, temperatures in the country seldom rise above 90° F (32° C) or fall below 65° F (18° C). Annual rainfall varies from 60 inches (150 centimeters) on the southeast coast of St. Vincent to 150 inches (381 centimeters) in the island's thickly wooded central mountains.

The People

Most of the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are descendants of black African slaves brought to the islands by British and French settlers. Other ethnic groups include Europeans and descendants of the original native Carib Indians. About 40% the people live in urban areas. The economy of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is mainly based on agriculture. Most people work on farms. The main export crops include bananas and coconuts. Fishing, manufacturing, and tourism are minor economic activities in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Schools follow the British system through secondary levels. Students who wish to pursue higher education must leave the country. Health care is a mix of state and private clinics, with more facilities available on Saint Vincent than in the Grenadine islands. Life expectancy is 74 years.