(pronounced "RALF gon-SAHL-vayz")
"Let us again put the issue of political union [among Caribbean nations] on the agenda…For my part, it is a noise in my blood, an echo in my bones!"
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is located in the Windward Islands group of the eastern Caribbean, south of St. Lucia and west of Barbados. Its jurisdiction covers the northern Grenadine islets of Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Mustique, Prune Island, Petit St. Vincent, and Union Island. The national capital is in Kingstown, located on the island of St. Vincent. All of the 32 islands that make up this country are volcanic in origin and some are privately owned. The country's total area is 389 sq km (150 sq mi).
The population was estimated to be 116,394 in 2002, with growth at 0.4%. Ethnic composition is 66% African and 19% mixed origin, with some Carib Indians, East Indians, and Europeans. About 65% of the islanders are descendants of slaves who were brought from Africa to work the plantations. While English is the official language, a French patois is also spoken as a result of French 18th century colonization. Almost half of Vincentians belong to the Anglican Church while 28% are Methodists. Roman Catholics and Seventh-Day Adventists make up the remainder of the population. Life expectancy was estimated at 74.6 years for women and 71.1 years for men in 2002.
The economy is based almost entirely on tourism and agriculture, with bananas, arrowroot, and coconuts being the primary exports. The unit of currency is the East Caribbean dollar. The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated in 2001 at US $2,900, with a growth rate of -0.8%.
Office of the Prime Minister
Kingstown, St. Vincent