3 Facts About the 3 Biggest Islands in the Caribbean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

3 Facts About the 3 Biggest Islands in the Caribbean

Did you know that there are more than 7,000 islands in the Caribbean? While many of these islands are quite small, plenty of them are large enough to be home to millions of residents.

Take, for instance, three of the biggest islands in the Caribbean: Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica. While they all call the Caribbean home, each of these islands has a unique character and culture. Ready to be amazed? Read on to learn three fascinating facts about the Caribbean’s biggest islands.

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Cuba Isn’t Just A Single Island

Map of Cuba and surrounding islands
Credit: Victor Maschek/ Shutterstock

Cuba, or as it is properly called, the Republic of Cuba, is the largest island in the Caribbean, with a landmass of over 42,000 square miles. It has the largest population of a single country in the Caribbean, too. Cuba is home to over 11 million people.

But what you may not know is that Cuba isn’t just one island. While most people recognize the alligator-like shape of Cuba’s mainland, the country actually includes more than 4,000 small islands and cays.

Many of these islands are quite tiny. Some are home to all-inclusive resorts and others are uninhabited, but some of them are quite respectable in size. For instance, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba’s second-largest island, measures a little over 900 square miles, and has a population of about 100,000.

Hispaniola: Two Countries, One Island

Map of the island of Hispaniola split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Credit: Peter Hermes Furian/ Shutterstock

Hispaniola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean. It has a landmass of over 29,000 square miles and a population of more than 20 million.

But if it’s so big, why is it that so many people have never heard of it? That’s because the island of Hispaniola actually includes two countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. While most people are familiar with these names, it’s not as well known that the island spanning both of them is called Hispaniola.

While these two countries are locked together by land, they are very different. The Dominican Republic is far wealthier, with a robust tourism economy and several world-renowned resorts. Haiti, on the other hand, has significant poverty issues and is not as popular for tourists.

Sugarcane Is Not Indigenous to Jamaica

Photo of a sugarcane field at sunset
Credit: Mailson Pignata/ iStock

Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean by landmass, spanning over 4,200 square miles. This makes it slightly larger than the next-biggest island, Puerto Rico, which measures in at about 3,500 square miles. However, in terms of population density, Puerto Rico is slightly larger, with a population of about 3.25 million as opposed to Jamaica’s at about 2.9 million.

When you think of Jamaica’s most significant crops, you probably think of sugarcane, which is key to making the country’s famous rum. But did you know that sugarcane is not indigenous to Jamaica?

The original residents of Jamaica, the Arawak Indians, grew things like cassava, corn and yams. But when Spanish settlers came through in 1510, they brought sugarcane with them.

Along with the sugarcane, they also brought the custom of slavery. Thousands of Africans were imported to the island to work on sugarcane and tobacco plantations. When the British took over Jamaica, agriculture became the island’s main economy.

While slavery was later abolished, the tradition of agriculture has remained strong in Jamaica. Agriculture is one of the main economies on the island, with the sugar industry being the oldest continuously-run operation on the island.

How’s That For Some Tropical Trivia?

Photo of a beautiful orange sunset behind two palm trees
Credit: thekopmylife / iStock

The Caribbean may be one large tropical region, but the area’s biggest islands are all quite different from one another. While they may share similar climates and geography, there’s still plenty of economic and cultural diversity among these tropical destinations.

India will be most populous country by 2027: UN

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India will be most populous country by 2027: UN

According to a UN report, India will overtake China to become the world’s most populous country in 2027.

INDIA Updated: Jul 11, 2019 05:50 IST

Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
population explosion,population boom,india population boom
The world’s population is projected to increase by 2 billion people, from 7.7 billion now to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to the UN report.(AFP File Photo)

India and Nigeria will host the two fastest growing populations over the next three decades, with India adding 273 million people and Nigeria 200 million by 2050, the rapid pace fuelled by vastly different factors, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects 2019 report.

India will overtake China to become the world’s most populous country in 2027, according to the report. The world’s population is projected to increase by 2 billion people, from 7.7 billion now to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to the report.

While India’s population will increase because of a large cohort of young people who will enter their reproductive age over the next three decades, which will add “population momentum” even if births fall to two children or less per woman, Nigeria’s population will be driven by women having many more children.

India’s total fertility rate (TFR, the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime) ) is 2.2, with half of the country’s population in 24 states having reached “replacement TFR” of 2.1 or less, which is number of children per woman at which a population replaces itself and stops growing. In Nigeria, the TFR is 5.4.

“Even if the TFR across all states were to fall immediately to two births or less per woman, India’s population would continue to grow, as it will in countries and regions where fertility has declined recently. In India, Latin America and the Caribbean, virtually all of the projected population growth till 2050 will be driven by the population momentum from a largely young population,” AR Nanda, former secretary, Union ministry of health, and trustee, Indian Association for the Study of Population, said ahead of the World Population Day on Thursday. “The National Population Policy 2000 had projected TFR will reach around 2.1, which will show when the Sample Registration System data comes out in 2020. Contraceptives and spacing methods, including male contraception, have to be made widely available, especially to adolescents and young adults, who get missed,” said Nanda.

Addressing high TFR in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar must remain a priority, say experts. “People must have access to uninterrupted quality services and social development support, such as nutrition, health, sanitation and infrastructure, to ensure they have the tools and the information to have the desired family size,” said Rajib Acharya, senior associate, Population Council of India.

Budgetary allocation for health went up by 15% this year, from ₹56,045 crore in 2018-19 (revised estimates), to ₹64,559 crore in 2019-20. But while the allocation for the National Health Mission went up by 8% over the previous year to ₹32,995 crore, the share of the Reproductive and Child Health flexipool out of the approved NHM funds has halved in four years, from 40% in 2016-17 to 20% in 2019-20, which some demographers find worrying.

“A major chunk of the increased allocation for NHM is driven by health system strengthening, which increased by around 12% over last year…,” said a health ministry official, who did not want to be named.

First Published: Jul 11, 2019 05:43 IST

Venezuelan refugees feared drowned en route to Trinidad

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

Venezuelan refugees feared drowned en route to Trinidad

More than 30 people set sail on fishing vessel Jhonnaly Jose that capsized in heavy seas

Looking westwards off the shore of Trinidad across the Gulf of Paria towards Venezuela
 Looking west from Trinidad across the Gulf of Paria towards Venezuela. The captain of the Jhonnaly Jose was found clinging to oil drums. Photograph: Josh Surtees/The Guardian

More than 30 Venezuelans are missing, feared drowned, after their boat sank attempting to reach Trinidad in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The fishing vessel, Jhonnaly Jose, had left the port city of Guiria but capsized in rough seas near the uninhabited Patos Island, 3 miles (5km) from the Venezuelan coast.

The boat’s official manifest recorded 25 passengers, but sources say additional passengers boarded unlogged. Most of the passengers were women.

Nine survivors have been found by the Venezuelan and Trinidadian Coast Guards. Two, including the captain, Francisco Martinez, were found clinging to floating oil drums as daylight broke over the Gulf of Paria. The stretch of water that separates the Caribbean island from the South American mainland is just 7 km at its narrowest point.

Venezuelan authorities released the names of 23 people confirmed as travelling on the boat, all aged between 17 and 28. Most are likely to have been fleeing the ongoing social and economic crisis. The accident happened at night on a popular route for refugees and migrants who pay traffickers to reach Trinidad. Passage costs $250 (£194), paid to boatmen who sail under cover of darkness, docking in quiet coves or jetties.

Passenger ferries travel between the two countries about once a week, but many Venezuelans are forced to cross illegally on fishing boats because they don’t have passports to enter through official ports and are often refused entry. Getting passports and official documents issued in Venezuela is almost impossible because of the collapsing civil administration. Some claim the regime of President Nicolas Maduro deliberately withholds passports and blame the bureaucratic delays on corruption or attempts to stop Venezuelan citizens fleeing the country.

According to government figures, 3 million Venezuelans have left since the crisis began. Per capita, there are more Venezuelans living in Trinidad and Tobago than any country in the region, except the microstates of Aruba and Curacao. The United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) and the Trinidadian government estimate that 40,000 Venezuelans are living in Trinidad, of whom 10,000 have registered as asylum-seekers with the UN refugee agency.

Refugees in Trinidad currently have no employment rights, which forces them to work illegally. Many are exploited, paid shockingly low wages and some resort to sex work to supplement their incomes. Sex trafficking rings have been uncovered by the Trinidadian police.

However, the Trinidadian government recently announced an amnesty on all Venezuelans living in the country – including those who entered illegally – that will allow them temporary work permits. The scheme, like those in other Latin American countries hosting Venezuelans, will require registration with the government within a two-week timeframe.

Trinidad’s minister of national security, Stuart Young, has said that after one year refugees will be expected to return to Venezuela. Concerns have been expressed about how the government will handle the data and whether it will be shared with the Maduro regime.

The governments of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago have close ties, largely because of commercial deals over the offshore oil reserves that bolster both countries’ economies. The diplomatic situation has coloured Trinidad’s approach to the refugee crisis, with the prime minister, Keith Rowley, thus far refusing to recognise Venezuelans living in Trinidad as refugees.

Early unconfirmed reports from local news agencies stated that at least two children were on board the Jhonnaly Jose when it set off.

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Haiti: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Troubled Land

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Haiti

Introduction The native Taino Amerindians – who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by COLUMBUS in 1492 – were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti’s nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L’OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare its independence in 1804. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the departure of President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponement, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006.
History This island of the Greater Antilles was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus on December 5, 1492. He named it Hispaniola. A branch of the Arawaks, the Tainos occupied the island before the arrival of the Spaniards. Their number to the end of 15th century was estimated to be lower than 100,000. The Spaniards exploited the island for its gold, gold which was mined largely by the local Amerindians under the direction of the occupying Spanish. This was hardly voluntary labor and those refusing to work in the mines were slaughtered or forced into slavery. The few who evaded capture fled to the mountains and established independent settlements.

The Europeans also brought infectious diseases with them to the island which, along with ill-treatment, malnutrition and a drastic drop of the birthrate, effectively decimated the remaining indigenous population in just a few decades. Without any more workers for the mines, the Spanish governors began importing slaves from Africa. In 1517, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, authorized the draft of the slaves. Those African slaves who managed to escape the European rule also fled to the mountains where some encountered, befriended and intermarried with fugitive Amerindians, consequently forming a line of people referred to as the Marabou.

The western part of Hispaniola, in contrast was settled by French buccaneers. Among them, Bertrand d’Ogeron succeeded in growing tobacco, thus allowing the, by then, large number of settled buccaneers and freebooters to turn into a sedentary population; a population which didn’t submit to royal authority until the year 1660, causing a number of conflicts. Bertrand d’Orgeron also attracted many colonists of Martinique and Guadeloupe, like the Roy family (Jean Roy, 1625-1707), Hebert (Jean Hebert, 1624, with his family) and the Barre (Guillaume Barre, 1642, with his family) driven out by the land pressure which was generated by the extension of the sugar dwellings. However, in the time between 1670 and 1690, a huge tobacco crisis struck the island, significantly reducing the number of settlers. The rows of the free booting grew bigger, plundering, like those of Vera Cruz in 1683 or of Campêche in 1686, became increasingly commonplace and Jean-Baptist Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay, elder son of Jean-Baptiste Colbert and at the time Minister of the Navy, brought back some order by taking a great number of measures. Among those appeared the creation of plantations of indigo and of cane sugar. The first sugar windmill was created in 1685.

The Treaty of Ryswick of 1697 divided Hispaniola between France and Spain. France received the western third, and named it Saint Domingue. Many French colonists came and worked in plantations. From 1713 to 1787, 30,000 colonists, among them Pierre Nezat, left Bordeaux, France, came to enlarge the number of the colonists present in the western part of the island. The wars burst in Europe and were prolonged on the seas to the Antilles and the Caribbean. In 1756, trade was paralyzed. A great number of colonists and their families left Saint Domingue for Louisiana, where they settled in Post established by France and managed by soldiers. Thus the families Barre, Roy, Hebert and Nezat met again in the territories of Attakapas and Opelousas (Indian tribes), where they also met other French colonists from Paris or from Nova Scotia (Alex Charles Barre, descendant of Guillaume Barre, founded in 1820 Port Barre). By about 1790, Santo Domingo had become the richest French colony in all of America thanks to the immense profits of the sugar and indigo industries and the thousands of Africans who had been brought as slaves to make these industries function. Their fate was under the jurisdiction framed by the black code, prepared by Colbert and enacted by Louis XIV. But the French Revolution involved serious social upheavals in the French West Indies and in Saint Domingue too. Most important was the revolt of the slaves which lead in 1793 to the abolition of slavery by the commissioners Sonthonax and Polverel, (decision endorsed and generalized to the whole of the French colonies by the Convention six months later). The Black Toussaint Louverture, appointed Governor by France, after having restored peace, having driven out the Spaniards and the English who threatened the colony, restored prosperity by daring measures. He went however too far promulgating a separatist constitution and Napoleon Bonaparte, under the influence of the Creoles (French – and Spaniards born on one of the islands of the Antilles, later also in Louisiana) and of the traders, sent an expedition of 30,000 men under the command of his brother-in-law the General Charles Leclerc. He had the mission of ousting Louverture and of restoring slavery. But, after some victories, the arrest and the deportation of Toussaint Louverture, the French troops ordered by Donatien Marie Joseph de Rochambeau finished by being beaten at the Battle of Vertières per Jean-Jacques Dessalines. At the end of a double battle for freedom and for independence won by former slaves over the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte, the independence of the country was proclaimed on 1 January 1804, under the name of Haiti. Haiti had become the first country in the world to make effective the abolition of slavery.

Dessalines was proclaimed governor for life by his troops. He exiled the remaining whites and ruled as a despot. He was assassinated on October 17, 1806. The country was divided then between a kingdom in the north, directed by Henri Christophe and a republic in the south, directed by Alexandre Pétion. Then president Jean Pierre Boyer reunified these two parts and conquered the east part of the island. July 11, 1825, the king of France Charles X threatened to reconquer the island and sent a fleet of 14 vessels. Boyer had to sign a treaty in which France recognized the independence of the country in exchange for an allowance of 150 million francs-or (the sum would be reduced in 1838 to 90 million francs).

A long succession of coups followed the departure of Jean Pierre Boyer. His authority did not cease being disputed by factions of the army, the mulatto and black elites, and the commercial class, now made up of great number from abroad – Germans, Americans, French and English). The country was impoverished, with few State Heads taking care of its development. As his authority weakened, armed revolts started, maintained by candidates to the succession. At the beginning of the 20th century, the country was in a state of quasi-permanent insurrection.

The United States occupied the island from 1915 to 1934. Thereafter, from 1957 to 1986, the Duvaliers reigned as dictators. They created the system of denouncement and death squads known as Tonton Macoute. Many Haitians exiled themselves, in particular to the United States and Quebec. The former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide won the elections of December 1990. His mandate began on February 7, 1991, but a coup d’etat carried out by Raoul Cédras supported by the middle-class of businesses deposed him in September. In 1994, he was restored to authority under the pressure of the Clinton administration (which threatened with military intervention) on the condition that he gave up recovering the years lost at the time of the military interlude. He left the presidency in 1995 then and was re-elected in 2000. After several months of popular demonstrations and pressures exerted by the international community, especially by France, the USA and Canada, Aristide went into exile, being taken out of the country by US soldiers on February 29, 2004, when armed forces consisting of opponents and former soldiers who controlled the North of the country threatened to go on the capital Port-au-Prince.

Boniface Alexandre, president of the Supreme Court of appeal, assumed interim authority. In February 2006, following elections marked by uncertainties on the calculation of the ballot papers, and thanks to the support of popular demonstrations, René Préval, near to Aristide and former president of the Republic of Haiti between 1995 and 2000, was elected.

Geography Location: Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic
Geographic coordinates: 19 00 N, 72 25 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 27,750 sq km
land: 27,560 sq km
water: 190 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 360 km
border countries: Dominican Republic 360 km
Coastline: 1,771 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Climate: tropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds
Terrain: mostly rough and mountainous
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Chaine de la Selle 2,680 m
Natural resources: bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydro-power
Land use: arable land: 28.11%
permanent crops: 11.53%
other: 60.36% (2005)
Irrigated land: 920 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 14 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.99 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%)
per capita: 116 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding and earthquakes; periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: extensive deforestation (much of the remaining forested land is being cleared for agriculture and used as fuel); soil erosion; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes
Geography – note: shares the island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)
People Population: 8,706,497
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.1% (male 1,846,175/female 1,817,082)
15-64 years: 54.4% (male 2,313,542/female 2,426,326)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 134,580/female 168,792) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 18.4 years
male: 17.9 years
female: 18.8 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.453% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 35.87 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 10.4 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.94 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.016 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.954 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.797 male(s)/female
total population: 0.973 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 63.83 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 68.45 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 59.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 57.03 years
male: 55.35 years
female: 58.75 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.86 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 5.6% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 280,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 24,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoa diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vector-borne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: osteoporosis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Haitian(s)
adjective: Haitian
Ethnic groups: black 95%, mulatto and white 5%
Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3%
note: roughly half of the population practices voodoo
Languages: French (official), Creole (official)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.9%
male: 54.8%
female: 51.2%

Montserrat: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Tiny Caribbean Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Montserrat

Introduction English and Irish colonists from St. Kitts first settled on Montserrat in 1632; the first African slaves arrived three decades later. The British and French fought for possession of the island for most of the 18th century, but it finally was confirmed as a British possession in 1783. The island’s sugar plantation economy was converted to small farm landholdings in the mid 19th century. Much of this island was devastated and two-thirds of the population fled abroad because of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano that began on 18 July 1995. Montserrat has endured volcanic activity since, with the last eruption occurring in July 2003.
History Montserrat 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, which is located on the Mountain of Montserrat, in Catalonia. The island fell under English control in 1632 when a group of Irish fleeing anti-Roman Catholic sentiment in Saint Kitts and Nevis settled there. The import of slaves, common to most Caribbean islands, mainly coming from West Africa, followed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and an economy based on sugar, rum, arrowroot and Sea Island cotton was established.

In 1782, during the American Revolutionary War, Montserrat was briefly captured by France. It 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 later becoming one of only four places in the world that celebrates St Patrick’s Day as a public or bank holiday (the others being the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador). Slavery was finally abolished in Montserrat in 1834, presumably as a result of the general emancipation of slaves within the British Empire in that same year.

Falling sugar prices during the nineteenth century had an adverse effect on the island’s economy and in 1869 the philanthropist Joseph Sturge of Birmingham formed the Montserrat Company to buy sugar estates that were no longer economically viable. The company planted limes starting production of the island’s famous 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 Islands, becoming a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962.

With the completion of Beatles producer George Martin’s AIR Studios Montserrat in 1979, the island attracted world-famous musicians who came to record in the peace and quiet and lush tropical surroundings of Montserrat.[4] The last several years of the 20th century, however, brought two events which devastated the island.

In September 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck Montserrat with full force, 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.

In July 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 40 feet (12 m) (12 m) of mud, destroyed its airport and docking facilities, and rendered the southern half of the island uninhabitable. This forced more than half of the population to flee the island because they lacked housing. After a period of regular eruptive events during the late 1990s including one on June 25, 1997 in which 19 people lost their lives, 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. As an example, on May 20, 2006, the lava dome that had been slowly building collapsed, resulting in an ashfall of about an inch (2.5 cm) in Old Towne and parts of Olveston. There were no injuries or significant property damage.

Long referred to as “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” for both its Irish heritage and its resemblance to coastal Ireland, Montserrat today remains lush and green. A new airport, opened officially by the Princess Royal Princess Anne in February 2005, received its first commercial flights on July 11, 2005, and docking facilities are in place at Little Bay where a new capital is being constructed out of reach of any further volcanic activity.

The people of Montserrat were granted full residency rights in the United Kingdom in 1998, and citizenship was granted in 2002.

Geography Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates: 16 45 N, 62 12 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 102 sq km
land: 102 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: about 0.6 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 40 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; little daily or seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: volcanic island, mostly mountainous, with small coastal lowland
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: lava dome in English’s Crater (in the Soufriere Hills volcanic complex) estimated at over 930 m (2006)
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 80% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: severe hurricanes (June to November); volcanic eruptions (Soufriere Hills volcano has erupted continuously since 1995)
Environment – current issues: land erosion occurs on slopes that have been cleared for cultivation
Geography – note: the island is entirely volcanic in origin and comprised of three major volcanic centers of differing ages
Famous Montserratians Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell, MBE born in Montserrat is well known for his soca song “Hot Hot Hot” which has sold over 4 million copies.
Shabazz Baidoo—A football player of Montserrat descent, plays in Football League 2 for Dagenham & Redbridge.
Tesfaye Bramble—A football player, currently unattached, but who most recently played in the Conference National in England for Stevenage Borough.
Junior Mendes—A professional footballer who has represented Montserrat twice in international games, currently playing for Aldershot Town in the Conference National League.
Jim Allen—A former cricketer who represented the World Series Cricket West Indians.
People Population: 9,638
note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.5% (male 1,159/female 1,108)
15-64 years: 65.9% (male 3,027/female 3,323)
65 years and over: 10.6% (male 521/female 500) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.7 years
male: 29.3 years
female: 30.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.038% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 17.33 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.95 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.04 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.86 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.71 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.15 years
male: 76.93 years
female: 81.47 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Netherlands Antilles: Truth Knowledge And The History Of these Island Nations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Netherlands Antilles

Introduction Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, the island of Curacao was hard hit by the abolition of slavery in 1863. Its prosperity (and that of neighboring Aruba) was restored in the early 20th century with the construction of oil refineries to service the newly discovered Venezuelan oil fields. The island of Saint Martin is shared with France; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles; its northern portion, called Saint Martin, is an overseas collectivity of France.
History Both the leeward (Alonso de Ojeda, 1499) and windward (Christopher Columbus, 1493) island groups were discovered and initially settled by Spain. In the 17th century, the islands were conquered by the Dutch West India Company and were used as military outposts and trade bases, most prominent the slave trade. Slavery was abolished in1863.

In 1954, the status of the islands was up-graded from a colonial territory to a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country within the kingdom. The island of Aruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles until 1986, when it was granted status aparte, becoming yet another part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country within the kingdom.

Between June 2000 and April 2005, each island of the Netherlands Antilles had a referendum on its future status. The four options that could be voted on were:
closer ties with the Netherlands
remaining within the Netherlands Antilles
autonomy as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (status aparte)
independence

Of the five islands, Sint Maarten and Curaçao voted for status aparte, Saba and Bonaire voted for closer ties to the Netherlands, and Sint Eustatius voted to stay within the Netherlands Antilles.

Geography Location: Caribbean, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea – composed of five islands, Curacao and Bonaire located off the coast of Venezuela, and Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius lie east of the US Virgin Islands
Geographic coordinates: 12 15 N, 68 45 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 960 sq km
land: 960 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin)
Area – comparative: more than five times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 15 km
border countries: Saint Martin 15 km
Coastline: 364 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds
Terrain: generally hilly, volcanic interiors
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Scenery 862 m
Natural resources: phosphates (Curacao only), salt (Bonaire only)
Land use: arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 90% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are subject to hurricanes from July to October; Curacao and Bonaire are south of Caribbean hurricane belt and are rarely threatened
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles are divided geographically into the Leeward Islands (northern) group (Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten) and the Windward Islands (southern) group (Bonaire and Curacao); the island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten
Politics The head of state is the ruling monarch of the Netherlands, who is represented in the Netherlands Antilles by a governor. A council of ministers, chaired by a prime minister, forms the local government. Together with the governor, who holds responsibility for external affairs and defense, it forms the executive branch of the government.

The legislative branch is two-layered. Delegates of the islands are represented in the government of the Netherlands Antilles, but each island has its own government that takes care of the daily affairs on the island.

The Netherlands Antilles are not part of the European Union. Since 2006 the Islands have given rise to diplomatic disputes between Venezuela and the Netherlands. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez claims that the Netherlands may allow the United States to install military bases that would be necessary for a planned U.S. invasion of Venezuela. On May 23, 2006 an international military manoeuver known as Joint Caribbean Lion 2006, including forces of the U.S. Navy, began.

People Population: 225,369 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 26,749/female 25,467)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 73,319/female 78,842)
65 years and over: 9.3% (male 8,541/female 12,451) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 33.4 years
male: 31.6 years
female: 35.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.754% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.37 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.43 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.64 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.45 years
male: 74.15 years
female: 78.87 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Saint Lucia: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Saint Lucia

Introduction The island, with its fine natural harbor at Castries, was contested between England and France throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries (changing possession 14 times); it was finally ceded to the UK in 1814. Even after the abolition of slavery on its plantations in 1834, Saint Lucia remained an agricultural island, dedicated to producing tropical commodity crops. Self-government was granted in 1967 and independence in 1979.
History Pre-European people

Saint Lucia’s first known inhabitants were Arawaks, believed to have come from northern South America around 200-400 CE. Numerous

France

sites on the island have produced specimens of the Arawaks’ well-developed pottery. There is evidence to suggest that these first inhabitors called the island Iouanalao, which meant ‘Land of the Iguanas’, due to the island’s high number of iguanas.

Caribs gradually replaced Arawaks during the period from 800 to 1000 CE They called the island Hiwanarau, and later Hewanorra, which is now the name used for the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort. The Caribs had a complex society, with hereditary kings and shamans. Their war canoes could hold more than 100 men and were fast enough to catch a sailing ship. They were later feared by the Europeans because of stories of violence and cannibalism, but much of this was probably exaggeration on the part of the Europeans. The Caribs were usually generous until attacked or deceived (which are situations common to much of European colonial history).

Today called St. Lucia, much of the island’s population are unaware of the valued contribution to what we today call ‘freedom’. They Europeans called these freedon fighters the Brigands, who were of African and sometimes mixed African-Arawak heritage. Many Brigands still occupy the forests and surrounding areas where they still challenge injustice against them and their indigenous counterparts.

European invasion

Europeans first landed on the island in either 1492 or 1502 during Spain’s early exploration of the Caribbean. The Dutch, English, and French all tried to establish trading outposts on St. Lucia in the 17th century but faced opposition from Caribs whose land they were occupying.

17th century

Although the French pirate Francois le Clerc (also known as Jamb de Bois, due to his wooden leg) frequented Saint Lucia in the 1550s, it was not until years later, around 1600, that the first European camp was started by the Dutch, at what is now Vieux Fort. In 1605, an English vessel called the Olive Branch was blown off-course on its way to Guyana, and the 67 colonists started a settlement on Saint Lucia but after five weeks only 19 of them remained due to disease and conflict with the Caribs, so they fled the island.

The French officially claimed the island in 1635 but it was the English that started the next European settlement in 1639, which was wiped out by the Caribs. It was not until 1651 that the French came, this time from Martinique, commanded by De Rousselan, who held the island until his death in 1654.

In 1664, Thomas Warner (son of the governor of St Kitts) claimed Saint Lucia for England. He brought 1,000 men there to defend it from the French, but after two years there were only 89 left, mostly due to disease. For years after this, the island was official traded back and forth between the English and the French in various treaties, as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

18th century

The English, with their headquarters in Barbados, and the French, centered on Martinique, found St. Lucia attractive after the sugar industry developed in 1765. Colonists who came over were mostly indentured white servants serving a small percentage of wealthy merchants or nobles. Conflict with the Caribs increased as more and more land was taken.

Near the end of the century, the French Revolution occurred, and a revolutionary tribunal was sent to Saint Lucia, headed by captain La Crosse. Bringing the ideas of the revolution to Saint Lucia, he set up a guillotine that was used to execute Royalists. In 1794, the French governor of the island declared that all slaves were free, but only a short time later the British invaded again in response to the concerns of the wealthy plantation owners, and restored slavery after years of fighting. Castries was burned in 1796 as part of that battle between the British and the slaves and French republicans.

19th century

Britain eventually triumphed, with France permanently ceding Saint Lucia in 1814. The British abolished the African slave trade in 1807, three years after former slaves in Haiti had gained their independence as the first black republic in the Caribbean, but it was not until 1834 that slavery was actually abolished on Saint Lucia. Even after slavery was officially abolished, all former slaves had to serve a four-year “apprenticeship” which forced them to work for free for their former slavemasters for at least three-quarters of the work week, with final freedom in 1838.

Also in 1838, Saint Lucia was incorporated into the British Windward Islands administration, headquartered in Barbados. This lasted until 1885, when the capital was moved to Grenada.

20th century to present day

Increasing self-government has marked St. Lucia’s 20th century history. A 1924 constitution gave the island its first form of representative government, with a minority of elected members in the previously all-nominated legislative council. Universal adult suffrage was introduced in 1951, and elected members became a majority of the council. Ministerial government was introduced in 1956, and in 1958 St. Lucia joined the short-lived West Indies Federation, a semi-autonomous dependency of the United Kingdom. When the federation collapsed in 1962, following Jamaica’s withdrawal, a smaller federation was briefly attempted. After the second failure, the United Kingdom and the six windward and leeward islands–Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis and Anguilla, and St. Lucia–developed a novel form of cooperation called associated statehood.

As an associated state of the United Kingdom from 1967 to 1979, St. Lucia had full responsibility for internal self-government but left its external affairs and defense responsibilities to the United Kingdom. This interim arrangement ended on February 22, 1979, when St. Lucia achieved full independence. St. Lucia continues to recognize Queen Elizabeth II as titular head of state and is an active member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The island continues to cooperate with its neighbors through the Caribbean community and common market (CARICOM), the East Caribbean Common Market (ECCM), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Geography Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Geographic coordinates: 13 53 N, 60 58 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 616 sq km
land: 606 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Area – comparative: 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 158 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season January to April, rainy season May to August
Terrain: volcanic and mountainous with some broad, fertile valleys
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Gimie 950 m
Natural resources: forests, sandy beaches, minerals (pumice), mineral springs, geothermal potential
Land use: arable land: 6.45%
permanent crops: 22.58%
other: 70.97% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.01
per capita: 81 cu m/yr (1997)
Natural hazards: hurricanes and volcanic activity
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion, particularly in the northern region
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the twin Pitons (Gros Piton and Petit Piton), striking cone-shaped peaks south of Soufriere, are one of the scenic natural highlights of the Caribbean
Foreign relations Saint Lucia has no extant international disputes aside from tension resulting from the island’s status as a transit point for South American drugs destined for the United States and Europe.

Historically, the major thrust of foreign affairs for St. Lucia has been economic development. The government is seeking balanced international relations with emphasis on mutual economic cooperation and trade and investment. It seeks to conduct its foreign policy chiefly through its membership in the OECS. St. Lucia participated in the 1983 Grenada mission, sending members of its Special Services Unit into active duty. St. Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations. It seeks pragmatic solutions to major international issues and maintains friendly relations with the major powers active in the Caribbean, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. St. Lucia has been active in eastern Caribbean regional affairs through the OECS and CARICOM.

As a member of CARICOM, St. Lucia strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, designed to restore democracy to Haiti. The country agreed to contribute personnel to the multinational force, which restored the democratically elected government of Haiti in October 1994.

St. Lucia participated, along with 14 other Caribbean nations, in a summit with US President Bill Clinton in Bridgetown, Barbados, in May 1997. The summit, which was the first-ever meeting in the region between the U.S. and Caribbean heads of government, strengthened the basis for regional cooperation on justice and counternarcotics, finance and development, and trade issues.

St. Lucia had official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) for about 13 years, but switched recognition to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997. On 25 April 2007, the Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Su Tseng-chang, announced that St. Lucia and Taiwan would resume formal diplomatic relations.[1] On May 1, 2007, St. Lucia regained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan).[2] Within a few days, the People’s Republic of China suspended diplomatic relations.

People Population: 159,585 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.2% (male 20,614/female 19,559)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 50,897/female 54,140)
65 years and over: 9% (male 6,481/female 7,894) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.2 years
male: 28.2 years
female: 30.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.436% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 15.4 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.71 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -4.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.25 years
male: 73.59 years
female: 79.05 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.86 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Saint Lucian(s)
adjective: Saint Lucian
Ethnic groups: black 82.5%, mixed 11.9%, East Indian 2.4%, other or unspecified 3.1% (2001 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 67.5%, Seventh Day Adventist 8.5%, Pentecostal 5.7%, Rastafarian 2.1%, Anglican 2%, Evangelical 2%, other Christian 5.1%, other 1.1%, unspecified 1.5%, none 4.5% (2001 census)
Languages: English (official), French patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 90.1%
male: 89.5%
female: 90.6% (2001 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 6.6% of GDP (2006

Trinidad and Tobago: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Trinidad and Tobago

Introduction First colonized by the Spanish, the islands came under British control in the early 19th century. The islands’ sugar industry was hurt by the emancipation of the slaves in 1834. Manpower was replaced with the importation of contract laborers from India between 1845 and 1917, which boosted sugar production as well as the cocoa industry. The discovery of oil on Trinidad in 1910 added another important export. Independence was attained in 1962. The country is one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean thanks largely to petroleum and natural gas production and processing. Tourism, mostly in Tobago, is targeted for expansion and is growing. The government is coping with a rise in violent crime.
History Tobago’s cigar-like shape gave it its Spanish name (cabaco, tavaco, tobacco) and possibly its Amerindian names of Aloubaéra (black crotch) and Urupaina (big snail) (Boomert, 2000). Historian E.L. Joseph claimed that Trinidad’s Amerindian name was Iere derived from the Amerindian name for hummingbird ierèttê or yerettê. However, Boomert claims that Cairi or Caeri does not mean hummingbird and tukusi or tucuchi does. Others have reported that Kairi or Iere simply meant island.

Both Trinidad and Tobago were originally settled by Amerindians of South American origin. Trinidad was first settled by pre-agricultural Archaic people at least 7,000 years ago, making it the earliest-settled part of the Caribbean. Ceramic-using agriculturalists settled Trinidad around 250 BC and then moved further up the Lesser Antillean chain. At the time of European contact Trinidad was occupied by various Arawakan-speaking groups including the Nepoya and Suppoya, and Cariban-speaking groups such as the Yao, while Tobago was occupied by the Island Caribs and Galibi. The Amerindian name for Trinidad was Kairi or Iere which is usually translated as The Land of the Hummingbird, although others have reported that it simply meant island. Christopher Columbus encountered the island of Trinidad on July 31, 1498 and named it after the Holy Trinity. Columbus reported seeing Tobago, which he named Bella Forma, but did not land on the island. The name Tobago is probably derived from tobacco, although the English pronunciation is /təˈbeɪgoʊ/, rhyming with plumbago and sago.

Antonio de Sedeño first settled Trinidad in the 1530s as a means of controlling the Orinoco and subduing the Warao (Whitehead, 1997). Cacique Wannawanare (Guanaguanare) granted the St Joseph area to Domingo de Vera e Ibargüen in 1592 and then withdrew to another part of the island (Boomert, 2000). San José de Oruña (St Joseph) was established by Antonio de Berrío on this land. Walter Raleigh arrived in Trinidad on March 22 1595, casting anchor at Curiapan/Punta de Gallos and described the Pitch Lake (Piche or Tierra de Brea) and the Annaperima hill. This hill was known to the Warao as the home of the sea god Na’barima (Whitehead, 1997; 131). Raleigh soon attacked San José and captured and interrogated de Berrío obtaining much information from him and from the cacique Topiawari (Whitehead, 1997). In the 1700s, Trinidad belonged as an island province to the viceroyalty of New Spain along with modern Mexico and Central America (Besson, 2000). The Dutch and the Courlanders had established themselves in Tobago in the 16th and 17th centuries and produced tobacco and cotton. However Trinidad in this period was still mostly forest, populated by a few Spaniards with their handful of slaves and a few thousand Amerindians (Besson, 2000). Spanish colonisation in Trinidad remained tenuous. In 1762, after three hundred years of Spanish rule San José de Oruña and Puerto de España (Port of Spain) were hamlets rather than towns. Because Trinidad was considered underpopulated, Roume de St. Laurent, a Frenchman living in Grenada, was able to obtain a Cédula de Población from the Spanish King Charles III on the 4th November, 1783. This Cédula de Población was more generous than the first of 1776 and granted free lands to Roman Catholic foreign settlers and their slaves in Trinidad willing to swear allegiance to the Spanish king. The land grant was thirty two acres for each man, woman and child and half of that for each slave brought. As a result, Scots, Irish, German, Italian and English families arrived. The Protestants among them profited from Governor Don José Maria Chacon’s generous interpretation of the law. The French Revolution (1789) also had an impact on Trinidad’s culture since it resulted in the emigration of Martiniquan planters and their slaves to Trinidad who established an agriculture-based economy (sugar and cocoa) for the island

The population of Puerto de España (Port of Spain) increased from under 3,000 to 10,422 in five years and the inhabitants in 1797 consisted of mixed-races, Spaniards, Africans, French republican soldiers, retired pirates and French nobility (Besson, 2000). The total population of Trinidad in 1797 was 17,718; 2,151 of which were “white”, 4,476 were “free blacks and people of colour”, 10,009 were slaves and 1,082 Amerindians. In 1797, General Sir Ralph Abercromby and his squadron sailed through the Bocas and anchored off the coast of Chaguaramas. The Spanish Governor Chacon decided to capitulate without fighting. Trinidad became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population and Spanish laws (Besson, 2000). The conquest and formal ceding of Trinidad in 1802 led to an influx of settlers from England or the British colonies of the Eastern Caribbean. After the abolition of slavery and the collapse of the French planters’ cane economy, the ‘French Creole’ planters and the peasant population of mixed Spanish-Amerindians turned to cocoa cultivation. Although originally a sugar colony, cacao (cocoa) dominated the economy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. After the collapse of the cacao crop (due to disease and the Great Depression) petroleum increasingly came to dominate the economy. The Depression and the rise of the oil economy led to changes in the social structure. By the 1950s cocoa had become a staple in Trinidad’s export market and was responsible for a growing middle-class. Originally settled by Amerindians of South American origin at least 7,000 years ago, this varied history has left the country with a mixture of African, Indian, European, Middle Eastern and Chinese people. All these groups have left an imprint on the national culture, and there is an increasingly high percentage of mixed-race people. Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation (from the United Kingdom) in 1962 and a republic in 1976.

Meanwhile, Tobago changed hands between British, French, Dutch and Courlanders from modern-day Latvia. Britain consolidated its hold on both islands during the Napoleonic Wars, and they were combined into the colony of Trinidad and Tobago in 1889. As a result of these colonial struggles, Amerindian, Spanish, French and English place names are all common in the country. African slaves and Chinese, Indian, and free African indentured labourers, as well as Portuguese from Madeira, arrived to supply labour in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Emigration from Barbados and the other Lesser Antilles, Venezuela, Syria, and Lebanon also impacted on the ethnic make-up of the country.

The presence of American military bases in Chaguaramas and Cumuto in Trinidad during World War II profoundly changed the character of society. In the post-war period, the wave of decolonisation that swept the British Empire led to the formation of the West Indies Federation in 1958 as a vehicle for independence. Chaguaramas was the proposed site for the federal capital. The Federation dissolved after the withdrawal of Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago elected for independence in 1962.

In 1976, the country severed its links with the British monarchy and became a republic within the Commonwealth, though it retained the British Privy Council as its final Court of Appeal.

Between the years 1972 and 1983, the Republic profited greatly from the rising price of oil, as the oil-rich country increased its living standards greatly.

In 1990, 114 members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, led by Yasin Abu Bakr, formerly known as Lennox Phillip, stormed the Red House (the seat of Parliament), and Trinidad and Tobago Television, the only television station in the country at the time, and held the country’s government hostage for six days before surrendering.

Since 2003, the country has entered a second oil boom, a driving force which the government hopes to use to turn the country’s main export back to sugar and agriculture. Great concern was raised in August 2007 when it was predicted that this boom would last only until 2018.

Petroleum, petrochemicals and natural gas continue to be the backbone of the economy. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of Tobago, and the island remains a favourite destination for many European tourists. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most prosperous and stable democratic nations in the Caribbean.

Geography Location: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela
Geographic coordinates: 11 00 N, 61 00 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 5,128 sq km
land: 5,128 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Delaware
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 362 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical; rainy season (June to December)
Terrain: mostly plains with some hills and low mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: El Cerro del Aripo 940 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, asphalt
Land use: arable land: 14.62%
permanent crops: 9.16%
other: 76.22% (2005)
Irrigated land: 40 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 3.8 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.31 cu km/yr (68%/26%/6%)
per capita: 237 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: outside usual path of hurricanes and other tropical storms
Environment – current issues: water pollution from agricultural chemicals, industrial wastes, and raw sewage; oil pollution of beaches; deforestation; soil erosion
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: Pitch Lake, on Trinidad’s southwestern coast, is the world’s largest natural reservoir of asphalt
Politics Trinidad and Tobago is a republic with a two-party system and a bicameral parliamentary system based on the Westminster System. The Head of State of Trinidad and Tobago is the President, currently George Richards. The Head of Government is the Prime Minister Patrick Manning. The President is elected by an Electoral College consisting of the full membership of both houses of Parliament. The Prime Minister is elected from the results of a general election which takes place every five years. The President is required to appoint the leader of the party who in his opinion has the most support of the members of the House of Representatives to this post; this has generally been the leader of the party which won the most seats in the previous election (except in the case of the 2001 General Elections). Tobago also has it’s own elections, separate from the general elections. In these elections, members are elected and serve in the Tobago House of Assembly.

The Parliament consists of two chambers, the Senate (31 seats) and the House of Representatives (41 seats). The members of the Senate are appointed by the president. Sixteen Government Senators are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, six Opposition Senators are appointed on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and nine Independent Senators are appointed by the President to represent other sectors of civil society. The 41 members of the House of Representatives are elected by the people for a maximum term of five years in a “first past the post” system.

Since December 24, 2001, the governing party has been the People’s National Movement led by Patrick Manning; the Opposition party is the United National Congress led by Basdeo Panday. Another recent party is the Congress of the People, or COP, led by Winston Dookeran . Support for these parties appears to fall along ethnic lines with the PNM consistently obtaining a majority Afro-Trinbagonian vote, and the UNC gaining a majority of Indo-Trinbagonian support. COP gained 23% of the vote but failed to win a single seat. At present the PNM holds 26 seats in the House of Representatives and the UNC Alliance (UNC-A) holds 15 seats, following elections held on the 5th November 2007.

Voter turnout in General Elections averages between 60-70%.

There are 14 Municipal Corporations,(2 Cities, 3 Boroughs and 9 Regions) which have a limited level of autonomy. The various councils are made up of a mixture of elected and appointed members. Elections are due to be held every 3 years, but have not beem held since 2002, 2 extensions having been sought by the government. Local Government elections are next due in July 2009.

Trinidad and Tobago is a leading member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), of which only the Caribbean Single Market (CSM) is in force. It is also the seat of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which was inaugurated on 16 April 2005. The CCJ is intended to replace the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final Appellate Court for the member states of the CARICOM. Since its inauguration, only two states, Barbados and Guyana, have acceded to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ. The CCJ also serves has an original jurisdiction in the interpretation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, to which all members of CARICOM have acceded. However, to date, only one matter has been filed under the original jurisdiction.

On 11 April 2006, the 5-Member UNCLOS Annex VII Arbitral Tribunal, presided over by H.E. Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, rendered after two years of international judicial proceedings, the landmark Barbados/Trinidad and Tobago Award, which resolved the maritime boundary delimitation (in the East, Central and West sectors) to satisfaction of both Parties and committed Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago to resolve their fisheries dispute by means of concluding a new Fisheries Agreement.

People Population: 1,231,323 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 19.8% (male 124,480/female 118,725)
15-64 years: 72.6% (male 458,338/female 435,829)
65 years and over: 7.6% (male 40,250/female 53,701) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 32.3 years
male: 31.9 years
female: 32.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.11% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.34 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.99 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -7.44 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 31.06 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.25 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 29.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.68 years
male: 67.78 years
female: 73.66 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.72 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 3.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 29,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 1,900 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Trinidadian(s), Tobagonian(s)
adjective: Trinidadian, Tobagonian
Ethnic groups: Indian (South Asian) 40%, African 37.5%, mixed 20.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 0.8% (2000 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 26%, Hindu 22.5%, Anglican 7.8%, Baptist 7.2%, Pentecostal 6.8%, Muslim 5.8%, Seventh Day Adventist 4%, other Christian 5.8%, other 10.8%, unspecified 1.4%, none 1.9% (2000 census)
Languages: English (official), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), French, Spanish, Chinese
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.6%
male: 99.1%
female: 98% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2005)
Education expenditures: 4.2% of GDP (200)
People – note: in 2007, the government of Trinidad and Tobago estimated the population to be 1.3 million
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
conventional short form: Trinidad and Tobago
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Port-of-Spain
geographic coordinates: 10 39 N, 61 31 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 9 regional corporations, 2 city corporations, 3 borough corporations, 1 ward
regional corporations: Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Diego Martin, Mayaro/Rio Claro, Penal/Debe, Princes Town, Sangre Grande, San Juan/Laventille, Siparia, Tunapuna/Piarco
city corporations: Port-of-Spain, San Fernando
borough corporations: Arima, Chaguanas, Point Fortin
ward: Tobago
Independence: 31 August 1962 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 31 August (1962)
Constitution: 1 August 1976
Legal system: based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President George Maxwell RICHARDS (since 17 March 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister Patrick MANNING (since 24 December 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed from among the members of Parliament
elections: president elected by an electoral college, which consists of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 11 February 2008 (next to be held by February 2013); the president usually appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives
election results: George Maxwell RICHARDS reelected president; percent of electoral college vote – NA
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (31 seats; 16 members appointed by the ruling party, nine by the President, six by the opposition party to serve a maximum term of five years) and the House of Representatives (41 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives – last held on 5 November 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: House of Representatives – percent of vote – PNM 46%, UNC 29.7%; seats by party – PNM 26, UNC 15
note: Tobago has a unicameral House of Assembly with 12 members serving four-year terms; last election held in January 2005; seats by party – PNM 11, DAC 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Judicature (comprised of the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeals; the chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; other justices are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission); the highest court of appeal is the Privy Council in London; member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
Political parties and leaders: Congress of the People [Winston DOOKERAN]; Democratic Action Congress or DAC [Hochoy CHARLES] (only active in Tobago); Democratic National Alliance or DNA [Gerald YETMING] (coalition of NAR, DDPT, MND); Movement for National Development or MND [Garvin NICHOLAS]; National Alliance for Reconstruction or NAR [Dr. Carson CHARLES]; People’s National Movement or PNM [Patrick MANNING]; United National Congress or UNC [Basdeo PANDAY]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Jamaat-al Muslimeen [Yasin BAKR]
International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-24, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Glenda MOREAN-PHILLIP
chancery: 1708 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 467-6490
FAX: [1] (202) 785-3130
consulate(s) general: Miami, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Roy L. AUSTIN
embassy: 15 Queen’s Park West, Port-of-Spain
mailing address: P. O. Box 752, Port-of-Spain
telephone: [1] (868) 622-6371 through 6376
FAX: [1] (868) 822-5905
Flag description: red with a white-edged black diagonal band from the upper hoist side to the lower fly side
Culture It is also the birthplace of calypso music and the steelpan, which is widely claimed to be the only acoustic musical instrument invented during the 20th century. The diverse cultural and religious background allows for many festivities and ceremonies throughout the year. Other indigenous art forms include soca (a derivate of calypso), Parang (Venezuelan-influenced Christmas music), Chutney, Rapso music, which was made famous by Cheryl Byron and Pichakaree (musical forms which blend the music of the Caribbean and India) and the famous Limbo dance.

The artistic scene is vibrant. Trinidad and Tobago claims two Nobel Prize-winning authors, V.S. Naipaul and St Lucian-born Derek Walcott. Edmundo Ros, the ‘King of Latin American Music’, was born in Port of Spain. Mas’ designer Peter Minshall is renowned not only for his Carnival costumes, but also for his role in opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics, the 1994 Football World Cup, the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 2002 Winter Olympics, for which he won an Emmy Award.

Economy Economy – overview: Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses and has one of the highest growth rates and per capita incomes in Latin America. Economic growth for the past seven years has averaged slightly over 8%, significantly above the regional average of about 3.7% for that same period; however, it has slowed down this year to about 5% and is expected to slow further with the global downturn. Growth has been fueled by investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals, and steel. Additional petrochemical, aluminum, and plastics projects are in various stages of planning. Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, and its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources but it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food and beverages, as well as cement to the Caribbean region. Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports, but only 5% of employment. The country is also a regional financial center, and tourism is a growing sector, although it is not proportionately as important as in many other Caribbean islands. The economy benefits from a growing trade surplus. The MANNING administration has benefited from fiscal surpluses fueled by the dynamic export sector; however, declines in oil and gas prices have reduced government revenues which will challenge his government’s commitment to maintaining high levels of public investment.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $29.76 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $24.61 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5.8% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $28,400 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 0.5%
industry: 62.2%
services: 37.3% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 625,000 (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 4%, manufacturing, mining, and quarrying 12.9%, construction and utilities 17.5%, services 65.6% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate: 5.5% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 17% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed): 17.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $8.6 billion
expenditures: $6.677 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 October – 30 September
Public debt: 24.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 10% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 11.75% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $2.646 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $5.707 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $3.721 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $15.61 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: cocoa, rice, citrus, coffee, vegetables; poultry
Industries: petroleum, chemicals, tourism, food processing, cement, beverage, cotton textiles
Electricity – production: 7.704 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity – consumption: 7.083 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 99.8%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.2% (2001)
Oil – production: 163,300 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 28,730 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 218,800 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 72,780 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 728.3 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 39 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 20.8 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 18.1 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 531.5 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $5.721 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $16.73 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG), methanol, ammonia, urea, steel products, beverages, cereal and cereal products, sugar, cocoa, coffee, citrus fruit, vegetables, flowers
Exports – partners: US 57.5%, Jamaica 6.5%, Spain 3.9% (2007)
Imports: $10.26 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: mineral fuels, lubricants, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, live animals, grain
Imports – partners: US 28.2%, Brazil 11%, Venezuela 8.2%, Colombia 5.4%, Gabon 4.9%, China 4.2% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $200,000 (2007 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $8.765 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $3.4 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $12.44 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $1.419 billion (2007)
Currency (code): Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD)
Currency code: TTD
Exchange rates: Trinidad and Tobago dollars (TTD) per US dollar – 6.3228 (2008 est.), 6.3275 (2007), 6.3107 (2006), 6.2842 (2005), 6.299 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 323,800 (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 1.008 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: excellent international service; good local service
domestic: mobile-cellular teledensity exceeds 125 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code – 1-868; submarine cable systems provide connectivity to US and parts of the Caribbean and South America; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); tropospheric scatter to Barbados and Guyana
Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 18, shortwave 0 (2001)
Radios: 680,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 6 (2005)
Televisions: 425,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tt
Internet hosts: 155,722 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 17 (2000)
Internet users: 430,800 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 6 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 245 km; gas 1,320 km; oil 563 km (2007)
Roadways: total: 8,320 km
paved: 4,252 km
unpaved: 4,068 km (2000)
Merchant marine: total: 9
by type: passenger 2, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 2
foreign-owned: 1 (US 1)
registered in other countries: 2 (Bahamas 1, unknown 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Point Fortin, Point Lisas, Port-of-Spain
Military Military branches: Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force (TTDF): Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, Coast Guard, Air Guard (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service (16 years of age with parental consent); no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 301,561
females age 16-49: 264,225 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 215,310
females age 16-49: 180,526 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 8,671
female: 8,153 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 0.3% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: in April 2006, the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a decision that delimited a maritime boundary with Trinidad and Tobago and compelled Barbados to enter a fishing agreement that limited Barbadian fishermen’s catches of flying fish in Trinidad and Tobago’s exclusive economic zone; in 2005, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago agreed to compulsory international arbitration under UNCLOS challenging whether the northern limit of Trinidad and Tobago’s and Venezuela’s maritime boundary extends into Barbadian waters; Guyana has also expressed its intention to include itself in the arbitration as the Trinidad and Tobago-Venezuela maritime boundary may extend into its waters as well
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe; producer of cannabis

Virgin Islands

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CIA FACT BOOK’)

 

Virgin Islands

Introduction During the 17th century, the archipelago was divided into two territorial units, one English and the other Danish. Sugarcane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands’ economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1917, the US purchased the Danish portion, which had been in economic decline since the abolition of slavery in 1848.
History Christopher Columbus named the islands Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes, shortened to Las Vírgenes, after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. They were inhabited by Arawak, Carib and Cermic Indians, all of whom died out during the colonial period from disease, harsh labor conditions, and murder.

Later, the islands were re-populated by European plantation owners, and enslaved Africans who worked on sugar plantations, and at least one tobacco plantation. The sugar plantations are gone, but the descendants of the enslaved Africans remain the bulk of the population, sharing a common Afro-Caribbean heritage with the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Geography Location: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates: 18 20 N, 64 50 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 1,910 sq km
land: 346 sq km
water: 1,564 sq km
Area – comparative: twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 188 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: subtropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season September to November
Terrain: mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little level land
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Crown Mountain 475 m
Natural resources: sun, sand, sea, surf
Land use: arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 2.86%
other: 91.43% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: several hurricanes in recent years; frequent and severe droughts and floods; occasional earthquakes
Environment – current issues: lack of natural freshwater resources
Geography – note: important location along the Anegada Passage – a key shipping lane for the Panama Canal; Saint Thomas has one of the best natural deepwater harbors in the Caribbean
People Population: 109,825 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.4% (male 11,394/female 11,048)
15-64 years: 65.9% (male 33,843/female 38,574)
65 years and over: 13.6% (male 6,747/female 8,219) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 39.1 years
male: 38.6 years
female: 39.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.029% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 12.29 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.55 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.28 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.05 years
male: 76.02 years
female: 82.26 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.85 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Virgin Islander(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Virgin Islander
Ethnic groups: black 76.2%, white 13.1%, Asian 1.1%, other 6.1%, mixed 3.5% (2000 census)
Religions: Baptist 42%, Roman Catholic 34%, Episcopalian 17%, other 7%
Languages: English 74.7%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 16.8%, French or French Creole 6.6%, other 1.9% (2000 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90-95% est.
male: NA%
female: NA% (2005 est.)
Education expenditures: NA
Government Country name: conventional long form: United States Virgin Islands
conventional short form: Virgin Islands
former: Danish West Indies
abbreviation: USVI
Dependency status: organized, unincorporated territory of the US with policy relations between the Virgin Islands and the US under the jurisdiction of the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Charlotte Amalie
geographic coordinates: 18 21 N, 64 56 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (territory of the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are three islands at the second order; Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas
Independence: none (territory of the US)
National holiday: Transfer Day (from Denmark to the US), 31 March (1917)
Constitution: Revised Organic Act of 22 July 1954
Legal system: based on US laws
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal; island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch: chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
head of government: Governor John DeJONGH (since 1 January 2007)
cabinet: NA
elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as the Virgin Islands, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in the Democratic and Republican presidential primary elections; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 7 and 21 November 2006 (next to be held November 2010)
election results: John DeJONGH elected governor; percent of vote – John DeJONGH 57.3%, Kenneth MAPP 42.7%
Legislative branch: unicameral Senate (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – Democratic Party 8, ICM 4, independent 3
note: the Virgin Islands elects one non-voting representative to the US House of Representatives; election last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held November 2008)
Judicial branch: US District Court of the Virgin Islands (under Third Circuit jurisdiction); Superior Court of the Virgin Islands (judges appointed by the governor for 10-year terms)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party [Arturo WATLINGTON]; Independent Citizens’ Movement or ICM [Usie RICHARDS]; Republican Party [Gary SPRAUVE]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: IOC, UPU, WFTU
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territory of the US)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (territory of the US)
Flag description: white field with a modified US coat of arms in the center between the large blue initials V and I; the coat of arms shows a yellow eagle holding an olive branch in one talon and three arrows in the other with a superimposed shield of vertical red and white stripes below a blue panel
Culture Virgin Islander culture represents the various peoples that have inhabited the present-day U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands throughout history. Although both territories are politically separate, they maintain close cultural ties.

Like much of the English speaking Caribbean, Virgin Islander culture is syncretic, deriving chiefly from West African, European and American influences. Though the Danish controlled the present-day U.S. Virgin Islands for many years, the dominant language has been an English-based Creole since the 19th century, and the islands remain much more receptive to English language popular culture than any other. The Dutch, the French and the Danish also contributed elements to the island’s culture, as have immigrants from the Arab world, India and other Caribbean islands. The single largest influence on modern Virgin Islander culture, however, comes from the Africans enslaved to work in canefields from the 17th to the mid-19th century. These African slaves brought with them traditions from across a wide swathe of Africa, including what is now Nigeria, Senegal, both Congos, Gambia and Ghana.

Virgin Islands culture continues to undergo creolization, the result of inter-Caribbean migration and cultural contact with other islands in the region, as well as the United States. Migration has altered the social landscape of both countries to the extent that in the British Virgin Islands, half of the population is of foreign (mostly Caribbean) origin and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, most native-born residents can trace their ancestry to other Caribbean islands.

Economy Economy – overview: Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for 80% of GDP and employment. The islands hosted 2.6 million visitors in 2005. The manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, rum distilling, textiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. One of the world’s largest petroleum refineries is at Saint Croix. The agricultural sector is small, with most food being imported. International business and financial services are small but growing components of the economy. The islands are vulnerable to substantial damage from storms. The government is working to improve fiscal discipline, to support construction projects in the private sector, to expand tourist facilities, to reduce crime, and to protect the environment.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.577 billion (2004 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $NA
GDP – real growth rate: 2% (2002 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $14,500 (2004 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)
Labor force: 43,980 (2004 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 1%
industry: 19%
services: 80% (2003 est.)
Unemployment rate: 6.2% (2004)
Population below poverty line: 28.9% (2002)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budget: revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA
Fiscal year: 1 October – 30 September
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.2% (2003)
Agriculture – products: fruit, vegetables, sorghum; Senepol cattle
Industries: tourism, petroleum refining, watch assembly, rum distilling, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronics
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity – production: 960 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 892.8 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 17,620 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 91,680 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – exports: 398,500 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 492,300 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: NA
Natural gas – production: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports: $4.234 billion (2001)
Exports – commodities: refined petroleum products
Imports: $4.609 billion (2001)
Imports – commodities: crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, building materials
Economic aid – recipient: $NA
Debt – external: $NA
Currency (code): US dollar (USD)
Currency code: USD
Exchange rates: the US dollar is used
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 71,700 (2005)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 80,300 (2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system with total digital switching, uses fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay
domestic: full range of services available
international: country code – 1-340; submarine cable connections to US, the Caribbean, Central and South America; satellite earth stations – NA
Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 16, shortwave 0 (2005)
Radios: 107,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 5 (2006)
Televisions: 68,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .vi
Internet hosts: 4,610 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 50 (2000)
Internet users: 30,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 2 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Roadways: total: 1,257 km (2007)
Ports and terminals: Charlotte Amalie, Limetree Bay
Military Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 17,820
females age 16-49: 21,193 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 831
female: 873 (2009 est.)
Military – note: defense is the responsibility of the US
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: none

Lasers Reveal a Maya Civilization So Dense It Blew Experts’ Minds

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

Tikal, home to temples and palaces, is one of the best known Maya sites in northern Guatemala.CreditJustin Lane for The New York Times

They were hidden there, all this time, under the cover of tree canopies in the jungles of northern Guatemala: tens of thousands of structures built by the Maya over a millennium ago.

Not far from the sites tourists already know, like the towering temples of the ancient city of Tikal, laser technology has uncovered about 60,000 homes, palaces, tombs and even highways in the humid lowlands.

The findings suggested an ancient society of such density and interconnectedness that even the most experienced archaeologists were surprised.

“Everywhere that we looked, there was more settlement than we expected,” said Thomas Garrison, a National Geographic explorer and an archaeologist at Ithaca University. “We knew there was going to be more, but the scale of it really blew our minds.”

Researchers found the structures by shooting lasers down from planes to pierce the thick foliage and paint a 3-D picture of the ground below. The technology is called Light Detection and Ranging, or lidar.

200 MILES

Gulf of

Mexico

Maya

Biosphere

ReserveGuatemala

Beli

Caribbean

Sea

MEXICO

BELIZE

GUATEMALA

HONDURAS

EL SALVADOR

Pacific

Ocean

NICARAGUA

The method has been used elsewhere, including around the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. But this lidar project is the largest ever undertaken. More than 800 square miles of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala’s Petén region have been mapped, according to an exclusive report by National Geographic, which is airing a Feb. 6 television special about the project.

Continue reading the main story

“This world, which was lost to this jungle, is all of a sudden revealed in the data,” said Albert Yu-Min Lin, an engineer and National Geographic explorer who worked on the television special. “And what you thought was this massively understood, studied civilization is all of a sudden brand new again.”

The lasers are only the first step, he added, noting that he and archaeologists still had to trek through jungles to verify the data while contending with thick undergrowth, poisonous snakes, swarms of killer bees and the odd scorpion.

Photo

Lidar data highlighted about 60,000 structures that had been hidden in the jungle for hundreds of years.CreditWild Blue Media/National Geographic

The project was started by Pacunam, a Guatemalan nonprofit organization, and carried out with help from the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, which is based at the University of Houston. The lidar technology essentially allows researchers to spot bumps in the landscape. Most of the ruins look like rocky mounds — even in person, and to the naked eye — but experts can often identify a collapsed quarry, palace or street.

The Maya culture was known for its sophisticated approach to agriculture, arts and astronomy. The peak era for the civilization, which some archaeologists refer to as the Classic Period, is generally considered to have lasted from around A.D. 250 to 900.

The total population at that time was once estimated to be a few million, said Diane Davies, an archaeologist and Maya specialist based in the United Kingdom. But in light of the new lidar data, she said it could now be closer to 10 million.

Dr. Davies was not involved in the lidar project but considered it “really big, sensational news.” She said the data should encourage people not only to re-evaluate Maya civilization, but also to learn from it.

“To have such a large number of people living at such a high level for such a long period of time, it really proves the fact that these people were highly developed, and also quite environmentally conscientious,” she said.

Among the structures uncovered were roads, built wide and raised high above the wetlands to connect fields to farmers and markets to metropolises. There were also small dwellings, quarries and intricate irrigation systems. “We’re seeing the spaces in between, and that’s where really interesting stuff was happening,” Dr. Garrison said.

He added that in addition to changing people’s perception of the Maya culture, lidar represented “a sea change” in the field of archaeology.

“I don’t think you see a lot of discoveries happening across the sciences right now that sort of turn a discipline on its head,” he said. “It’s exciting to know that it can still happen.”

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