The principal recurrent threat to the environment comes from the Soufrière volcano, which erupted violently on 7 May 1902, destroying much of northern St. Vincent and claiming 1,565 lives. After another eruption, on 13 April 1979, the volcano remained active for weeks, spewing over much of the island a pall of volcanic ash, which covered mountains, forests, and plantation fields. Forests are threatened by farming development and use of wood for commercial purposes.
Pollution from pleasure yachts and other sources has seriously affected the eastern shorelines of all the major islands of the Grenadines. In Bequia's Admiralty Bay, the pollution is so severe that swimming is dangerous. The main contributing factors are toxic chemicals used in farming and sewage. Fresh water resources are also limited. The nation's tourist trade increases the need for water even more. The nation's coast is particularly vulnerable to pollution from industrial sources.
The central highlands of St. Vincent have been set aside as a natural preservation area for nesting of the St. Vincent parrot, the St. Vincent wren, and the St. Vincent solitaire, all endangered or rare species. In the Grenadines, the hawksbill, green sea, and leatherback turtles have been declared endangered. The Tobago Cays have been proposed as a nature preserve, but aside from a
The population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 116,000, which placed it as number 177 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 6% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 31% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 101 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 0.58%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 127,000. The population density in 2002 was 297 per sq km (770 per sq mi). The majority of the population lives on St. Vincent, which is the main island. The Grenadines are sparsely populated; many of the islands are uninhabited.
It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 55% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. The capital city, Kingstown, had a population of 28,000 in that year. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 2.1%.