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Grenada

 Grenada is an island nation in the southeastern Caribbean Sea including the southern Grenadines. Grenada is the second-smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere (after Saint Kitts and Nevis). It is located north of Trinidad and Tobago, and south of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The recorded history of Grenada begins in 1498, when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island and named it Conception. At the time of settlement the island was occupied either by Island Caribs (Kalinago) or by their mainland cousins, the Kariña. After a failed British settlement attempt, the French 'purchased' the island from the indigenous people in 1650, which resulted in warfare with the Caribs of Dominica and St. Vincent who feared losing their trade routes to the mainland. The island was again ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. Grenada was made a Crown Colony in 1877.




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The recorded history of Grenada begins in 1498, when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island and named it Conception. At the time of settlement the island was occupied either by Island Caribs (Kalinago) or by their mainland cousins, the Kariña. After a failed British settlement attempt, the French 'purchased' the island from the indigenous people in 1650, which resulted in warfare with the Caribs of Dominica and St. Vincent who feared losing their trade routes to the mainland. The island was again ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. Grenada was made a Crown Colony in 1877.

The island was a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. In 1967 Grenada attained the position of "Associated State of the United Kingdom" which meant that Grenada was now responsible for her own internal affairs, and the UK was responsible for her defence and foreign affairs. Independence was granted in 1974 under the leadership of the then Premier Sir Eric Matthew Gairy who at independence became the first Prime Minister of Grenada. Eric Gairy's government became increasingly authoritarian and dictatorial, prompting a coup d'état in March 1979 by the charismatic and popular left-wing leader of the New Jewel Movement, Maurice Bishop. Bishop's failure to allow elections, coupled with his Marxist/Leninist socialism and cooperation with Communist Cuba did not sit well with the country's neighbors, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica and the United States. A power struggle developed between Bishop and a Stalinist sect within the ruling People's Revolutionary Government (PRG), loyal to the more hardline communist ideologue and co-founder of the NJM, Bernard Coard. This led to Bishop's house arrest; he and many others were eventually executed at Fort George on October 19, 1983.

Six days later, the island was invaded by forces from the United States at the behest of Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica. Five other Caribbean nations participated with Dominica and the USA in a military campaign called Operation Urgent Fury. (Although the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon later stated that he had requested the invasion, the British Government and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago expressed anger at having not been consulted.) The forces quickly captured the ringleaders and their hundreds of Cuban "advisors" (most of whom were laborers working on the construction of a major airport for the island, which the British completed a year later). A publicised tactical concern of the United States was the safe recovery of U.S. nationals enrolled at St. George's University. However, it should be noted that the island of Grenada could have become a corner of a triangle comprised also of Cuba and Nicaragua, both also declared enemies of US interests at that time. These three islands could have militarily controlled the deep water passages, thereby controlling the movement of oil from Venezuela and Trinidad (supplies then considered vital by US military planners). And, although elections were held the following year, in 1984, many critics doubted the legitimacy of those elections, noting that the newly-elected officials were nearly universal in their support of the US / British position (and in possesing the honorifics of "Sir" or "Lord" as well). Popular opinion in Grenada noted that the only vote that really counted had been Ronald Reagan's.

In 2000-2002 much of the controversy of the late 1970s and early 1980s was once again brought into the public consciousness with the opening of the truth and reconciliation commission. The commission was chaired by a Catholic priest, Fr. Mark Haynes, and was tasked with uncovering injustices arising from the PRA, Bishops regime and before. It held a number of hearings around the country. The commission was formed, bizarrely, because of a school project. Brother Robert Fanovich, head of Presentation Brothers' College (PBC) in St. George's tasked some of his senior students with conducting a research project into the era and specifically into the fact that Maurice Bishop's body was never discovered. Their project attracted a great deal of attention, including from the Miami Herald and the final report was published in a book written by the boys called Big Sky, Little Bullet. It also uncovered that there was still a lot of resentment in Grenadian society resulting from the era, and a feeling that there were many injustices still unaddressed. The commission began shortly after the boys concluded their project.

In 2004, the island after being hurricane free for 49 years, was directly hit by Hurricane Ivan (September 7). The category 4 hurricane caused 90 percent of the homes to be damaged or destroyed. The following year 2005, Hurricane Emily (July 14) struck the island, causing an estimated USD $110 million (EC$ 297 million) worth of damage. This was much less damage than Ivan had caused.

Grenada has recovered with remarkable speed, due to her climate and the resilience of her people combined with much needed help from her neighbours, and financing from the world at large. By December 2005, 96% of all hotel rooms were to be open for business and to have been upgraded in facilities and strengthened to an improved building code. The agricultural industry and in particular the nutmeg industry suffered serious losses, but that event has begun changes in crop management and the nutmeg industry may be returning to its pre-Ivan position as a major supplier in the western world.

 
 




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