Montserrat ( ) is a British overseas territory
located in the Leeward Islands, part
of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea.
It measures approximately 16 km (10
miles) long and 11 km (7 miles) wide, giving of coastline.
Christopher Columbus gave Montserrat
its name on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, after its
namesake located in Catalonia. Montserrat is nicknamed the Emerald Isle
of the Caribbean, both for its resemblance to coastal Ireland and for the
Irish descent of its inhabitants.
Georgian era capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and two-thirds of the island's
population forced to flee abroad by an eruption of the previously
dormant Soufriere Hills
volcano that began on July 18, 1995. The eruption continues
today on a much reduced scale, the damage being confined to the
areas around Plymouth including its docking facilities and the
former W.H. Bramble Airport.
An exclusion zone extending from the south
coast of the island north to parts of the Belham Valley has been
closed because of an increase in the size of the existing volcanic
dome. Visitors are no longer permitted entry into Plymouth, however
a spectacular view of the volcano and the destruction it has
wrought upon the capital can be had from Garibaldi Hill which is
accessible on foot or by all terrain vehicle from Isles Bay.
village of Brades currently
serves as the temporary centre of government while construction
proceeds on a new town at Little Bay in the north of the island,
out of reach of further volcanic activity.
was populated by Arawak and Carib people when it was claimed by Christopher Columbus on his second
voyage for Spain in 1493,
naming the island Santa María de Montserrate, after the
Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of
Montserrat. The island fell under English control in 1632 when a group of
Irish suffering anti-Catholic violence in Nevis, many of
whom had been forcibly removed from Ireland as indentured servants,
The import of African slaves
, common to most Caribbean islands, began
early. An economy based on sugar
and Sea Island cotton
was established. By the late 1700s there were many plantations on
during the American
Revolutionary War, Montserrat was briefly captured by France.
was returned to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Paris
which ended that
conflict. A failed slave uprising on 17 March 1798 led
to Montserrat becoming one of only four places in the world that
celebrates St Patrick's Day as a
public holiday (the others being the Republic of Ireland, Northern
Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador).
Slavery was abolished in Montserrat in
Falling sugar prices during the nineteenth century had an adverse
effect on the island's economy and in 1869 the philanthropist
of Birmingham, England
formed the Montserrat Company to buy sugar estates that were no
longer economically viable. The company planted limes starting
production of the lime juice, set up a school, and sold parcels of
land to the inhabitants of the island, with the result that much of
Montserrat came to be owned by smallholders.
From 1871 to 1958 Montserrat was administered as part of the
Federal Colony of the Leeward
, becoming a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation
from 1958 to
1962.In 1979, Beatles
producer George Martin
opened and the island attracted world-famous
musicians who came to record in the peace and quiet and lush
tropical surroundings of Montserrat.
The last decade of the 20th century, however, brought two events
which devastated the island. On September 17, 1989, the Category 5
struck Montserrat with
sustained winds of 160 miles per hour, damaging over 90 percent of
the structures on the island. AIR Studios closed, and the tourist
trade upon which the island depended was nearly wiped out. Within a
few years, however, the island had recovered considerably—only to
be struck again by disaster.
1995, Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano, dormant throughout recorded history, rumbled to
life and began an eruption which eventually buried the island's
capital, Plymouth, in more than of mud, destroyed its airport and
docking facilities, and rendered the southern half of the island
Following the destruction of Plymouth, more
than half of the population left the island due to the economic
disruption and lack of housing. After a period of regular eruptive
events during the late 1990s, including one on June 25, 1997 in
which 19 people died when they were overtaken by a pyroclastic
flow, the volcano's activity in recent years has been confined
mostly to infrequent ventings of ash
into the uninhabited areas in the south. However, this ash venting
does occasionally extend into the populated areas of the northern
and western parts of the island. The southern part of the island
has been evacuated and visits are severely restricted.
Today most of Montserrat remains lush and green. A new airport at
Geralds in the north (renamed the John A. Osborne International
Airport in 2008) was opened officially by Princess Anne
, the Princess Royal in February
2005, and received its first commercial flights on July 11, 2005.
Docking facilities are in place at Little Bay, where the new
capital is being constructed.
people of Montserrat were granted full residency rights in the
Kingdom in 1998, and citizenship was granted in
Montserrat is divided into three parishes
island of Montserrat is located approximately 480 km (300
miles) east-southeast of Puerto Rico and
48 km (30 miles) southwest of Antigua.
It comprises only 104 km² (40 square
miles) and is increasing gradually owing to volcanic deposits on
the southeast coast of the island; it is 16 km (10 miles) long
and 11 km (7 miles) wide, with dramatic rock faced cliffs
rising 15 to 30 m (50–100 feet) above the sea and smooth
bottomed sandy beaches
on the west side of the island.
Montserrat has been a quiet haven of extraordinary scenic
Montserrat has two islets
: Little Redonda and
Virgin, and Statue Rock.
From 1979 to 1989 Montserrat was home to a branch of George Martin
which made the island popular with working musicians
who often went there to record while taking advantage of the
island's wonderful climate and lushly beautiful surroundings.
Since the twin devastations of Hurricane Hugo and the eruption of
the Soufriere Hills Volcano, the Montserratian economy has been
effectively halted. Export businesses currently based in Montserrat
deal primarily in the selling and shipping of aggregate for
construction. Imports include virtually everything available for
sale on the island.
The island's operating budget is largely supplied by the British
Government and administered through DFID (the Department for
International Development) amounting to approximately £25 million
per year. Additional amounts are secured through income and
property taxes, license and other fees as well as customs duties
levied on imported goods.
Population: 5,879 (2008 estimate)
Note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island (primarily to the UK
following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; few
have returned. Pre-eruption population was 13,000 in 1994.
- 0–14 years: 23.4% (male 1,062; female 1,041)
- 15–64 years: 65.3% (male 2,805; female 3,066)
- 65 years and over: 11.3% (male 537; female 484) (2003
- total: 28.1 years
- male: 27.9 years
- female: 28.3 years (2002)
Population growth rate: 6.9% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 17.57 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate: 7.34 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate: 195.35 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000
- at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
- 15–64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 1.11 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
- total: 7.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
- female: 6.43 deaths/1,000 live births
- male: 9.05 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
- total population: 78.36 years.
- male: 76.24 years.
- female: 80.59 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.8 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate: NA%
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
- noun: Montserratian(s)
- adjective: Montserratian
Ethnic groups: black, white—mainly of mixed Irish and African
Religions: Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal,
Seventh-Day Adventist, other Christian denominations
- definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
- total population: 97%
- male: 97%
- female: 97% (1970 est.)
Cricket is a popular sport in Montserrat. Players from Montserrat
are in fact eligible to play for the West Indies cricket team
. Jim Allen
was the first to play for
West Indies and he represented the World Series Cricket
West Indians. No
other player from Montserrat had gone on to represent West Indies
until Lionel Baker
made his One Day
International debut against Pakistan in November 2008.
Montserrat has its own FIFA Affiliated
Football Team, and
has twice competed in the World Cup qualifiers.
A field for
the team was built near the airport by FIFA. The Montserrat team
are currently tied for 199th place in the FIFA world rankings with
eight other teams, including American Samoa and Guam. In 2002, the
team competed in a friendly with the second-lowest-ranked team in
FIFA at that time, Bhutan
, in The Other Final
- the same day as the
final of the 2002 World Cup
Currently, American and British elementary and middle school
students are eligible to participate in an Operation Montserrat
live simulation. This is a videoconference program based on events
of 1996 in which a hurricane approaches and a volcanic eruption
occur nearly at the same time. The students are responsible for
rescuing all of the people. In the weeks leading up to this, they
practice the skills they need in their classroom.
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