St. Vincent Population - History

St. Vincent Population - History

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Most Vincentians are the descendants of African slaves brought to the island to work on plantations. There are also a few white descendants of English colonists, as well as some East Indians, Carib Indians, and a sizable minority of mixed race. The country's official language is English, but a French patois may be heard on some of the Grenadine Islands. St. Vincent has a high rate of emigration. With extremely high unemployment and under-employment, population growth remains a major problem.

Identification. The name "Saint Vincent" was bestowed by Columbus on his discovery of the island on 22 January 1498, in honor of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, a Spanish saint. The name "Grenadines" derives from the Spanish for "pomegranate" (in reference to the distribution of the smaller islands pomegranate fruits do not grow on the islands).

Location and Geography. The area of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is 150 square miles (389 square kilometers), with the 133 square miles comprising the mainland and 17 square miles in the Grenadines.

Demography. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has a population of approximately 120,000 (2000 estimate), with about 110,000 residing on Saint Vincent and the remainder distributed among the Grenadines. On Saint Vincent, most of the population lives in the southern two thirds of the island because the volcano occupies the northern third of the island. The capital, Kingstown, and its suburbs have a population of around 25,000.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is English. Most, however, normally speak a creole known locally as "dialect." This would be unintelligible to the casual visitor, but it is based on an English vocabulary and can be learned in a short time.

Symbolism. The national flag is a tricolor of green, gold, and blue, with a stylized V in the center—representing the rich foliage of the island, the sun, and the sea. All public buildings display the flag, as do many private homes. Vincentians dwell on the natural beauty of the islands: the volcano and the "black sand" of the beaches the Vincentian parrot, an endangered endemic species the rainforest of the interior the beautiful views.



Prior to Doomsday, St Vincent was a young nation, struggling with economic and political hardships. Newly independent after 1979, hurricanes had devastated coconut and banana plantations in recent years, decimating a large portion of the country's economy. Without the support of the British colonial system to fall back on, and subject to whims of a fickle market, St Vincent was floundering through the early stages of its independence.


When the bombs fell and ushered in catastrophe, St Vincent fell into chaos. The island's fragile economy, already damaged by the powerful hurricane seasons of recent years, was absolutely devastated by the collapse of exterior market influences. Almost immediately, foreign capital ceased flowing into St Vincent, shutting down the trading sector of the economy as it struggled to hold itself up with the extremely limited resources of domestic trade.

By November, food supplies were dwindling dangerously low, and the day-to-day business of the nation was non-existent. As winter approached, more and more citizens began to disregard law and order, seeking to take survival into their own hands. The Grenadines, in particular, cut off of the more populated main island, fell into anarchy and insurrection. Prime Minister Robert Cato sought aid from their neighbours, unable to do more than maintain the tenuous government control of the main island as supplies dried up.

Struggle And Resistance

By December 1983, a man named Albert Washton was the de facto ruler of the town of Port Elizabeth, and by extension the entire island of Bequia. With about four hundred supporters from around the Grenadines, he established his 'capital' at Port Elizabeth, terrorizing the local populace and hoarding supplies. He and his men, using commandeered speed boats, quickly strong-armed the population of the parish into swearing loyalty to Washton and his 'New Grenadine' nation.

In mid January, a force of specially trained police officers from Barbados and St Lucia arrived in Kingstown. They were greeted with enthusiasm and were allowed to base themselves in the city for a few days. Once established, they swept south in a mission referred to as Operation White Whistle, with the intent to wrest control of the island chain from anarchists and revolutionaries.

Economic Crisis

Within one week, after hard fighting, the militants had been removed from the Grenadines. Albert Washton was one of seventy-three rebel casualties, having died in a firefight in Port Elizabeth after refusing negotiations. The remaining forces broke and fled at the loss of their leader. Police casualties from the operation tallied nineteen.

With the islands firmly under control, PM Cato began to focus the attention of his government more fully on the economic crisis sweeping the nation. With assistance from the nearby islands, he laid down a foundation for an expanded agricultural base, with favourable benefits and subsidiaries for the farming of root vegetables, cereals, and livestock. Although tropical fruit remained the main agricultural product of the island, enough individuals took advantage of the government incentives to establish a modestly varied food base, made sustainable by emerging trade with other nations. Strict emergency rationing laws were put in place, to last until the new food industries were proven viable.

Survival & Agreement

>On 4 August 1984, St Vincent and the Grenadines initiated negotiations to join the survival agreement between Barbados and St Lucia. After a month of deliberation, the three governments all reached consensus. The agreement soon expanded to accommodate Trinidad and Tobago, as well. John Wesley, a native of Chateaubelair, was selected to serve as St Vincent's representative. Joining the survival agreement helped to arrest the free-fall of the St Vincentian economy, though the outlook was still grim.

Talk began in early September about the nearby socialist nation of Grenada. In the wake of doomsday, a number of different revolutionaries had taken advantage of the chaos, and the nation was fractured into a number of factions, each hoping to fill the power vacuum caused by Doomsday. Fighting was brutal, and there was no semblance of a functional government for the island.

St Vincent agreed to host the training of an expanded co-operative defence force, built on the foundation of the St.Lucia-Barbados example. Over the next month or so, the force was expanded and refitted, in preparation for a potential invasion of Grenada. Tensions ran high, particularly in the Grenadines, were permanent police patrols were established.

On 4 November 1984, spill-over from a coastal conflict between Grenadian factions killed three St Lucian police officers. Debate began almost immediately between the four nations about a proper reaction to the tragedy. On 14 November 1984, at St Lucia and St Vincent's strong recommendation, the council agreed to invade Grenada and re-establish order, lest the violence spread to their territories.

The Grenadian Excursion

Three days later, a seven-hundred strong force of the Cooperative Defence Force landed on Rhode Island, one of the southernmost of Grenadine Islands. Belonging to Grenada, it made up the northern flank of the island. The force quickly took control of the island, establishing a base of operations and reinforcing chains of supply back to St Vincent.

For two months, brutal fighting consumed Grenada. More troops were sent to the island, until finally, n Christmas Eve of 1984, the capital city of St George was captured and the warlords surrendered. Though the war was technically won, there were still numerous clean-up operations to be done. A temporary base was set up on Carriacou, now part of St Vincent along with Petit Martinique, to serve as a more suitable base of operations for the continuing conflict in Grenada.

East Caribbean Federation

Meanwhile, back on St Vincent, the agricultural foundation laid down in early 1984 came to fruition two years later, with a moderate crop that would provided for enough of the population's food intake that, with the inclusion of stable food importation, the emergency rationing laws could be lifted. In July of 1986, just that occurred. Prime Minister Cato was shrewd, and led the push for this action, conveniently before the 1986 elections. His party, newly crowned as the St Vincent Free Party, claimed a majority government.

In the middle of the year, fresh after the election, John Compton, Prime Minister of St Lucia, came forward with a proposal that the members of the survival agreement unify into a tightly-knit federation of islands. Reliant on the other nations to support its economy and closely located to the Grenadian territory, Prime Minister Cato believed that St Vincent had the most to gain from such a proposal.

In conjunction with Compton, Cato pushed hard for the formation of the Federation, fighting against nationalist concerns from Trinidad and Tobago. After months of negotiation, a framework of unification was agreed to among the four parliaments, and on 1 January 1987, the East Caribbean Federation was officially established.

Change of Power

In 2000, PM Cato's ruling party was finally supplanted by the Progressive Conservative Party, which took power with a strong minority government. Marc Pickerton took power as the Prime Minister. Under his watch, laws restricting business were eased, and several companies relocated to St Vincent. Dagon Arms opened in late 2001, turning a modest trade in military and police firearms. Between 2000 and 2004, St Vincent underwent a moderate economic boom, rising from one of the poorest nations in the federation to a respectable business power.

St. Vincent Population - History

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 1 an archipelago of islands in the Caribbean, was the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence in 1979. The country has a long history of multiparty democracy. 2 Since 1984 politics have been dominated by the New Democratic Party (NDP), credited with the modest economic expansion the country experienced during the late 1980s. Prime Minister James F. Mitchell of the NDP was reelected to an unprecedented third term in February 1994. During the elections, however, the two opposition parties united to challenge the NDP and won three out of fifteen parliamentary seats - the NDP held all fifteen prior to the election. 3

St. Vincent has a market-based economy. Bananas are the leading export product and major source of foreign exchange earnings and account for roughly sixty per cent of employment. Throughout the Windward Islands the banana industry continues to suffer from low prices on the world banana market. The Government maintains what its supporters consider to be a sensible economic development policy, attempting to diversify agricultural production and attract outside investment for joint ventures in manufacturing and agriculture. Tourism is a small but growing business, with cruise ship visitors drawn to the remote and unspoiled Grenadine Islands. Live volcanos have visited disaster several times in this century, as well as hurricanes, which destroyed most of the banana and coconut plantations twice in the 1980s. 4

There is a small island elite, owners of import-export companies, banks, plantations and large-scale businesses, as well as a middle class of shopowners, some farmers, skilled craftsmen and professionals. 5

St. Vincent, like other small states that depend upon primary products, is in danger of becoming increasingly marginalized. The country's efforts at promoting a Free Trade Zone, for the time being, have not succeeded, and there have been closures of factories at the industrial park which employed mostly women.

Unemployment, especially among women and the young, is a serious problem. Many people are only seasonally employed. Temporary migration within the Caribbean and to industrial countries brings in remittances which are essential to many families. As the 1994 Government report indicates, female emigration increased in the 1980's and is currently almost forty per cent higher than male emigration.

With extremely high unemployment and underemployment, population growth is a major problem. According to the National Report of St. Vincent to the Beijing Conference, teenage pregnancy is an undisputed disadvantage to Vincentian women and to the society as a whole. Although girls in St Vincent have equal access to education, statistics show that there are almost double the number of unemployed females with secondary education as males. 6


Criminality and violence is increasing in the Caribbean as it is every where else, and the increase in violence against women, particularly domestic violence, is one aspect of this. As stated in the 1994 St.Vincent Government report to CEDAW, a study conducted in 1986-89 revealed that seventy-five per cent of the perpetrators of violence against women were male partners in common law relationships, fifteen per cent were husbands and ten per cent some other male relative. Victims were usually single women between the ages of thirteen and thirty-four and unemployed.

One activist attorney said that incest was the worst problem facing women and girls in St. Vincent. She felt that lack of assertiveness and self-esteem among women was a root cause. Many women give up their legal, social and moral rights to be with a man, who often has many other women. She added that most women know about the incest that is taking place, but many do nothing, or even condone it in order to appease the perpetrator. This source believes that both legal and spiritual education is necessary for women to challenge this problem.

Other sources agree that sexual abuse in the context of step-father/step-daughter relationships is a particular concern. Serial monagamy, common in St. Vincent, can lead to abuse or neglect of the children from previous marriages, particularly by the male in the current relationship, who may feel little or no responsibility toward children he has not fathered. Vincentian society is said to be both very religious and very family-oriented, so for many people incest is a very difficult subject to confront.

In 1994, the National Committee Against Violence was formed. Its purpose has been to raise awareness about domestic violence, particularly incest, spousal abuse, and abuse of step-daughters. The Committee has formed groups of three and four who visit schools to lead discussion groups and put on drama productions dealing with domestic violence. The Committee also broadcasts ten minute radio spots dealing with these issues.

1995 Domestic Violence Act

The Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act of 1984 was followed by the 1995 Domestic Violence Act. Both married and unmarried women (and men, where applicable) now have the right to legal protection and redress for domestic violence. Remedies include eviction from the home, a restraining order and maintenance payments. Because these are both civil acts, perpetrators cannot be jailed.

Women are represented by attorneys in court only if they can afford it - there are no legal aid organizations. However, individual attorneys do pro bono work at their own discretion.

Police response

Police sometimes do not report abuse to the authorities, or they return the victims to their partners. One attorney said that women themselves must take some of the responsibility for this, because the officers become apathetic when so often women do not follow through and the cases are dismissed. However, this attorney added that women often do not show up for court due to fear of physical or economic consequences, or for religious reasons. Some religious groups pressure women to remain with their partners and not to disturb the union. Nonetheless, because most police officers are men, there is a tendency to be lenient toward the mostly male perpetrators of violence against women.

Battered women's shelters

There are no battered women's shelters in St. Vincent, per se. The Marion House deals with issues relating to domestic violence and sometimes takes in victims, but by no means could respond to the general needs of domestic abuse victims. There are no half-way houses, and victims usually rely on family members to help them escape an abusive situation.


According to the National Report for Beijing, women in St. Vincent have been able to attain top administrative positions, but they find that they are still not involved actively in policy and decision-making within their organizations. This is particularly true of women who are administrators within the public service. Their positions entitle them to implement rather than influence directly the formulation of policies and decisions.

The low visibility of women continues to be characteristic of Vincentian political life. In the history of electoral politics in St. Vincent, only nine women have participated in national elections, all of them candidates of the ruling party. In the most recent national election in February 1994, there were 3 women out of a total of 33 candidates. St. Vincent is among those Caribbean nations showing the lowest proportion of women electoral candidates, despite the fact that, in the last elections, women outnumbered men at the polls.

Currently two of the fifteen members of Parliament are women. The same two women hold ministerial portfolios in the current government. 7


Sixty-five percent of all students are lost in the transition from primary to secondary school. It is generally agreed among IWRAW sources that there are no disproportionate educational disadvantages for girls. In fact, girls usually do better than boys throughout their schooling. Currently half of the graduates from law school, for example, are women, compared with twenty per cent two decades ago.

Nonetheless, despite the higher rate of secondary level education among females, there are almost double the number of unemployed females with secondary education as males.

Teen pregnancy

Roughly half of all households in the country are female-headed. The domestic system that has evolved in St. Vincent, and in the Caribbean generally, gives very high status to the maternal role. Although a legal marriage in St. Vincent provides higher status still, bearing a child when unmarried does not necessarily make a young woman less valued. Parentage is a means of forming a household, and the process often begins for a young woman in the home of her parents. In fact, most forms of male - female relationships lead to women- headed households.

Though St. Vincent retains its traditional family system, and family influences remain very strong, youthful pregnancy in traditional Vincentian society is no longer regarded as a positive adaptation to circumstances. The resulting population increases are overtaxing the island's resources and potential for economic growth, and the interruption of education for young pregnant women negatively affects the whole society. 8

According to the National Report for Beijing, the fifteen to nineteen year old age group showed a moderate decline in pregnancies when the Report was being written, but pregnancies in the ten to fourteen year old group were increasing. The Report emphasizes that teen pregnancy usually means the end of education and the beginning of forced adulthood with limited resources, which in turn tends to establish a scenario of multiple births out of wedlock with different partners, dependency and poverty.

School policy

One source says that only in rare instances is a teenage mother allowed to return to school after giving birth. (No source has mentioned the policy schools have with regard to the father of the child.) The girls can continue their education informally, for example by taking evening classes. However, sources say that most opportunities for evening studies are only available in the Kingstown area, and lack of transportation and tuition prevents many young women from attending.

Another source mentioned that the Ministry of Education is experimenting with sending girls back to school once they have given birth, although this is not widely known. It is also not known how many girls have been allowed to return to school through this programme.

Various NGOs provide a number of social service programmes, such as day care, counselling, and continuing education classes for young mothers who have dropped out of school. However, many of the skills training courses are in traditional subjects such as sewing, cake decorating, tye-dying and crochet. Sources say that more recently some NGOs are trying to provide non-traditional training as well in subjects such as electronics and welding.

Vocational training

The National Report for Beijing says that vocational training is lacking in too many schools in St. Vincent and that it is still too often assigned a second place in academics. School officials say that only two schools really encourage females to enter non-traditional occupations. Despite having equal access to education and being in the majority in secondary schools, girls are not sufficiently exposed to non-traditional vocational training. The two subject areas of greatest disparity in vocational schools are agriculture and industry - the two areas of greatest importance in terms of future employment.


Urban employment

Women dominate in the traditionally female occupations such as nursing, teaching and domestic work, all of which fall into the low-paying service sector. Despite women's dominance in the teaching profession, the majority of primary and secondary school principals are men. However, one source said that women with the requisite education are well represented in upper-level positions. (As an example she said that one out of the two High Court Judges is a woman, and one out of four of the Magistrates. At least in the judiciary, women's position is improving perceptibly.)


St. Vincent is a rural nation, and women constitute fifty-four percent of the agricultural labour force. They are mainly involved in field crop maintenance, production for home consumption, post-harvesting and marketing of cash crops. "Despite this pivotal role in agricultural production, women have comparatively little or no involvement in the policy development of agricultural organizations." 9 These organizations comprise the bargaining force in the agricultural industry.

In the rural areas women also work as domestics, and many remain at home with children. Some women own their own land with their husband, but it is quite rare for an unmarried woman to own her own land. Most women work on rented land, crop-sharing, or for other landowners.

The Equal Pay Act of 1994

The Equal Pay Act of 1994 has been fairly effective, according to one source. It mainly addresses the inequities in pay between men and women in agriculture, which is where the problem of wage discrimination was most significant.

Women agricultural traders

Female agricultural traders play a major role in sustaining the non-banana agricultural export trade. A 1990 ECLAC/CDCC research project found that eighty percent of traders were women, and nearly seventy percent of them were solely dependent on income from their trading activities. The conditions of their trade are difficult and dangerous. The National Report for Beijing suggests that government could make their lives much easier at customs points and in the provision of basic facilities.


Family planning

According to one source, the Ministry of Health is attempting to reduce youthful childbearing through public education and public health measures. Radio messages, newspaper cartoons and articles, directed to men as well as women, attempt to educate the public on the modern view of teenage pregnancy. Health clinics are equipped to distribute several types of contraceptives for women, but traditional attitudes hamper the promotion of contraceptives. Clinic nurses are directed to supply contraceptives to any girl or woman who asks for them and to advise them about birth control, but the attitude that it is not appropriate for schoolgirls to be sexually active prompts nurses either to refuse to give them contraceptives or to inform their mothers, or other persons, about their sexual activity. 10


Abortion is illegal in St. Vincent, yet sources say that many clandestine abortions occur every year. A proper medical procedure is extremely expensive, so it is not an option for many women. Abortion generally receives little attention unless a woman becomes ill or dies. Doctors who perform the procedure do so in private clinics and are well known. They are not prosecuted for performing abortions.


Family Court

The Government established the much-heralded Family Court in 1995. This Court handles all domestic cases, including incest, domestic violence and child support payments. Some men have already been jailed after convictions for incest, rape and non-payment of child support. There is a trained counsellor assigned to the Family Court who offers counselling to victims at the request of the President of the Court. Sources are optimistic, stating that the Court has been fairly successful at forcing men to take responsibility for their actions.

The Family Court currently has only one branch, located in Kingstown. Matters outside the jurisdiction of the Family Court are referred to the High Court.

Child Support

The enforcement mechanisms for child support are weak. When the law is enforced, some fathers opt to pay a prescribed penalty rather than pay maintenance.

Recipient mothers must travel from rural areas to the Welfare Office in Kingstown to collect maintenance payments, which are quite low. Because there are no legal aid services in St. Vincent, only those mothers who can afford to hire an attorney, or who can obtain an attorney's services pro bono , have recourse against fathers who fail to pay maintenance.

In May, 1995, the legislature amended the child support law to allow the Court to order payments while awaiting an appeal of the court's decision. 11 Previously, fathers who had been ordered to pay child support could appeal decisions, delaying payment of child support until after the appeal was heard and affirmed. This resulted in a huge backlog of appeal cases and effectively reduced the number of mothers and children receiving support payments. 12

The success of the Family Court has been limited by its inability to enforce the payment of maintenance. Sources say the problem involves lack of staffing support, with only one bailiff responsible for hundreds of arrears summons. Activists are urging the government to provide at least two more bailiffs immediately, in order to carry out court orders for child support payments. 13


© COPYRIGHT 2003 All materials on this web site copyright of International Women's Rights Action Watch, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, USA.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Poverty and wealth

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is not a country of social extremes. There is a small middle class, traditionally involved in retailing and the professions, while a significant group of small farmers benefited from the ⊺nana boom" of the 1980s, resulting in much improved housing conditions in many rural communities. Society is not prohibitively stratified, and educational opportunities exist for upward mobility. The literacy rate is high at 98 percent for both men and women.

There are no recent figures relating to income distribution in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but World Bank and other sources suggest that at least 30 percent of the population still lives in poverty, including the large numbers of unemployed. The most underdeveloped and marginalized area of the main island is the north, where villages such as Sandy Bay, Owia, and Fancy are still without electricity (although a project to connect them was underway in 2000). Here, the volcanic terrain limits the development of agriculture and there are few economic opportunities other than cultivating marijuana. The inhabitants of the poorest north coast settlements include the last descendants of the Black Caribs, a community descended from the island's indigenous population and slaves who escaped the sugar plantations in the 18th century and revolted against the British. On the east coast, the once thriving town of Georgetown is now almost deserted, abandoned since the government-owned sugar mill was closed

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
St. Vincent & the Grenadines N/A 1,322 1,649 2,168 2,635
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Jamaica 1,819 1,458 1,353 1,651 1,559
St. Lucia N/A 2,076 2,150 3,542 3,907
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000 Trends in human development and per capita income.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
St. Vincent & the Grenadines 27 4 8 2 13 24 22
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Jamaica 24 7 3 1 9 8 48
St. Lucia 40 5 11 4 17 11 11
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

in the 1970s. Here, as elsewhere beyond the Kingstown area, educational and medical services are basic.

In contrast, the wealthier middle-class suburbs around Kingstown have a full range of amenities and facilities. The more prosperous banana-growing villages of the fertile inland valleys are also evidence of economic success. The wealthiest sectors of the population include those involved in the tourism industry, the new financial services sector and, according to critics, those with political connections.

UN warns of humanitarian crisis as St Vincent eruptions displace thousands

Volcanic eruptions on St Vincent have displaced about 20% of the Caribbean island’s population, as a UN official warned of a growing humanitarian crisis.

Between 16,000 to 20,000 people were evacuated under government orders before La Soufrière volcano first erupted on Friday, covering the lush green island with ash that continues to blanket communities in St Vincent as well as Barbados and other nearby islands.

About 6,000 of those evacuees are considered most vulnerable, said Didier Trebucq, the United Nations resident coordinator for Barbados and the eastern Caribbean.

“So we are facing a situation with a great deal of uncertainty, and also a humanitarian crisis that is growing and may continue for weeks and months,” he said.

Trebucq said that based on certain information and preliminary estimations, 20,000 people are “estimated at risk of food insecurity, given the loss of the assets in terms of livelihood like fisheries, or agriculture”.

About 4,000 people are temporarily living in 87 government shelters, while others have relocated to hotels or the homes of friends and family, officials said. Trebucq noted that many shelters were lacking basic services including drinking water.

He said the top priority was water, which is being transported from nearby Caribbean nations and other contributors since water systems shut down in many parts of the island.

He said the second most urgent issue was meeting the needs of the 4,000 people in shelters, including cots and basic supplies, sanitation, hygiene and emergency latrines.

“We are dealing with a crisis within the Covid crisis,” he said. “Many health facilities have been affected by the ashes.”

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister, said on Wednesday during a press conference broadcast by local station NBC radio that people need to strictly adhere to Covid-19 measures to avoid outbreaks.

“We cannot have that at anytime, and most of all, at this time,” he said.

He also said a big issue is trying to determine the needs of those staying in hundreds of private homes across the island, adding that registration of those evacuees continues.

Ash covers roads a day after the La Soufrière volcano erupted after decades of inactivity, in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines. Photograph: Robertson S Henry/Reuters

Officials also urged those remaining in communities closest to the volcano to evacuate as soon as possible, noting that the explosions were ongoing and causing new pyroclastic flows.

“I don’t want them to die like that,” said Richard Robertson with the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center. “It’s not a nice way to go.”

Friday’s explosion produced only ash, but pyroclastic flows have multiplied as the volcano shifts shape with each new eruption, some of which have been stronger than the one recorded last week. Robertson said volcanic activity is expected to continue for days or even weeks. The volcano had a minor eruption in December after a previous eruption in 1979. An eruption in 1902 killed about 1,600 people.

St. Vincent Volcano Eruption: What We Know About the Caribbean Disaster

David Luhnow

The La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent began a series of explosive eruptions on April 9, sending clouds of hot ash some 20,000 feet into the air, blanketing much of the island in ash and causing water and electricity outages.

The eruptions at the 3,864-foot volcano have continued nearly every day since. On Wednesday, April 14, a fresh eruption sent clouds of ash into the sky and superheated clouds of gas, ash and rock speeding down the hillsides, island officials said.

The eruptions are likely to continue for weeks. A 1979 eruption lasted 2½ months, and a deadly 1902 eruption some eight months, officials said.

So far, there are no reports of injuries or deaths, but officials haven’t been able to access farms and homes nearest to the volcano. More than 16,000 people were evacuated just before the eruptions began, but an unknown number of people stayed put.

A heavy blanket of ash has carpeted most of the island, ranging from a few inches in the south to several feet in the north. Ash has suffocated farmland and contaminated local water reservoirs, leading to a shortage of fresh water.

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Garífuna History

(4) Africans, either as escapees or stolen from
European settlements, arrive in St. Vincent at different times

Without a doubt, recorded history is clear that Black Africans were introduced into the so-called New World as early as the 1500s as a result of European-induced slavery. Whereas almost all of the Caribbean islands were claimed as European territories, Dominica and St. Vincent had entered into a peace treaty in 1660 that gave the Indigenous the right to live on the island – provided they stopped stealing African slaves and other goods from European settlements. By this time the Spanish fleets had discarded most of these territories as “ islas inútiles ” and they set off for Mexico, Central America and South America in search of gold. This left the French, English and Dutch to fight for control over the Caribbean islands. Despite the treaty, little by little, Africans ended up on St. Vincent by two routes, either by appropriation at the hands of the Indians, or by escape from other islands, especially Barbados. It seems that at first escaped Africans lived in the mountains of these islands, and would come down for sexual relations with women or to steal food. This is based on linguistic evidence the native peoples of this time had a word for ‘nappy’ or ‘kinky’ hair ( kilili-abali itibouri) this word was a harsh insult used against those who had this type of hair, according to Raymond Breton. Breton not only composed a French-Carib dictionary, but he also took copious ethnographic notes. Luisa Navarette, a free Black woman on Puerto Rico, was captured by the Indians of Dominica where she stayed for four years until her escape. She recounted how the Indians had made slaves not only of the Africans, but of other Indians and captured Europeans as well. In 1658 Charles Cesar Rochefort, in his book about the Lesser Antilles, described seeing Africans as slaves of the Indians. As the African population increased, group mixing is to be expected, but just because a baby has African and indigenous blood does not make him or her Garífuna. The Garífuna ethnic group emerges as a result of complete cultural and linguistic assimilation of the indigenous group on St. Vincent. The Africans and native peoples of St. Vincent were not two separate groups, but one culturally unified group only distinguished by their phenotype.

In time, the Garínagu gained power and prestige over the native peoples and were a threat to the British, who wanted to take over St. Vincent. The French, although they had gone about seeking control of St. Vincent by befriending the Garínagu, tried to support them in their struggle. William Young complained feverishly that the Garínagu were living on the best lands and not even using all of it and besides – as Africans they had no right to the land. After a bloody war, and an epidemic of disease that reduced much of the Garífuna population, they were forcibly removed from the St. Vincent and eventually settled in Central America.


Money magazine

Saint Vincent College ranked in the top 20 percent nationally in Money magazine's 2020 Best Colleges for the Money rankings. Additionally, Money ranked Saint Vincent 35th nationally, and fifth in Pennsylvania, in its Best Small Colleges rankings (undergraduate enrollment less than 2,500), while Money named SVC one of the nation's top 50 Most Transformative Colleges, explained by the magazine as colleges where “students beat the odds by doing better than would be expected from their academic and economic backgrounds.”

Saint Vincent College ranked as the top Benedictine college in the country, and in the top seven among Catholic colleges nationwide, in’s 2019 ranking of the Top Christian Colleges and Universities in the United States. Saint Vincent placed 15th overall, and third in the state of Pennsylvania, among all Christian colleges.


Saint Vincent was ranked 11 th  out of 62 colleges overall in Pennsylvania, and third among schools in the western portion of the state, including both private and public institutions. Saint Vincent scored exceptionally well in campus experience, ranking in the 96 th  percentile nationally, while it also ranked in the top quartile in both faculty resources and educational outcomesAlong with campus experience, faculty resources and educational outcomes, the WalletHub rankings also take into account factors including student selectivity, cost and financing and career outcomes. For more information on WalletHub’s 2019 Ranking of Colleges and Universities, visit

Best Colleges for the Money ranking, College Factual placed Saint Vincent eighth out of 287 institutions in the Middle Atlantic region and 47th of 1,483 colleges and universities in the U.S. Also known as the Best Value ranking, it identifies colleges that are offering the best education quality for the best price. College Factual also released best value rankings of individual bachelor degree programs in the U.S. and SVC was well-represented. Ranking in the top 10 percent nationally in best value bachelor's programs were Saint Vincent undergraduate programs in criminology (2nd of 72), general social sciences (9th of 539), marketing (10th of 358), communication/media studies (12th of 490), general biology (13th of 617), business administration and management (20th of 876) and biological and biomedical sciences (23rd of 637). 

U.S. News and World Report

For the 11th consecutive year, Saint Vincent College has been ranked in the first tier of National Liberal Arts Colleges in the 2020-21 edition of U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges Guidebook. Additionally, the publication ranked Saint Vincent among top performers in social mobility among national liberal arts institutions while also including Saint Vincent in its listing of  "A+ Schools for B Students."

The Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence (MSMOE) program in the McKenna School of Business, Economics and Government has regularly received high ranks. In 2019, the MSMOE program was listed by the magazine as one of the Top 20 Best Only Master’s in Management Programs in the U.S. and one of the 25 Best Value Master’s in Management Programs in the country. In 2020, US News placed SVC’s MSMOE program among the top third of Best Online Master’s Business Programs (non-MBA) in the U.S., including the fifth-best in the state of Pennsylvania and the ninth-best among Catholic institutions nationally.

U. S. Department of Education's College Scorecard

SVC received high nationwide rankings in the following categories:

  • 71% graduation rate, nearly twice the national average of 42%
  • 84% of freshmen return for their sophomore year (national average: 68%)
  • 78% of graduates are paying down their debt (national average: 46%)
  • Average salary for graduates: $47,600 (national median: $34,100)

When compared with a group of 30 peer schools, Saint Vincent graduates’ earnings ranked in the top quarter. Our costs were in the lowest five, while our retention was third-highest.

Saint Vincent was one of just two Pennsylvania schools included in the top 25, and one of just four Catholic institutions listed. The 2020 rankings took into account tuition and graduates’ median salaries and debt.


In its 2019 ranking of America’s Top Colleges, Forbes business magazine again listed Saint Vincent College, also placing it No. 133 in Grateful Grads, an ROI measure based on the concept that the best colleges produce successful people who make enough money in their careers to be charitable and give back to their alma mater.

Washington Monthly

Saint Vincent College was ranked on Washington Monthly’s national list of best Liberal Arts Colleges based on social mobility, research and service, as well as listed in its “Best Bang for the Buck” in the Northeast, in the publication’s 2018 rankings.

Is College Worth It?

In this publication by New York Times best-selling author William J. Bennett and David Wilezol, Saint Vincent is identified as one of only 43 “Schools Worth Attending,” and is the only Catholic college and the only Pennsylvania college among the private schools listed.

French Patois

The French were the first European powers to settle in St. Vincent, and they found communities of the Carib people. The islands were then allocated to the British through treaties, but the French assumed governance of the islands again from 1779 to 1783. The French settlers employed slave labor to cultivate sugar, coffee, corn, tobacco, and indigo. The French influence can be seen in the names of local locations such as Petit Vincent and Mayreau. A section of islanders uses French Patois especially those with European ancestry. The French Patois heard in Saint Vincent, and Grenadines features French and African grammar with loan words from Spanish and English.

Watch the video: Indigenous history of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (August 2022).