When Christopher Columbus discovered the island on his third “West Indies” trip in 1498, it was populated by members of the Caribe tribe. These had probably driven out the original population of the Aruak Indians. The island received its name after the day of discovery (January 22nd as Saint Vincent’s Day). There was no settlement by the Spaniards.
- COUNTRYAAH: See current national flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Download high definition image, and learn flag meanings as well as the history of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines flags.
Struggle for supremacy
From the beginning of the 17th century, the great European powers France and Great Britain tried to dominate the main island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Initially, the representatives of both countries agreed on a neutral zone, but around 1680, contrary to what was agreed, the British began to colonize the island of Saint Vincent and set up plantations for the cultivation of sugar cane. The resident caribs were pushed back, but offered considerable resistance to the settlers. African slaves were brought to the island to manage the plantations. The so-called “Black Caribs” emerged from the mixture of blacks and caribs over the next few decades, and they repeatedly defended themselves against white dominance on the island.
According to AbbreviationFinder, a fierce battle for the island broke out between France and Great Britain, alternating between the two powers over the next hundred years. Great Britain finally got the island in the Treaty of Versailles in 1783.
In 1795 there was an uprising of the “Black Caribs” and French revolutionaries against the white plantation owners on Saint Vincent. They took control of the entire island, destroyed the sugar cane plantations and murdered white colonists. Around a year later, British troops had recaptured the island: around 5,000 caribs and “black caribs” were deported to the island of Roat¨¢n off the coast of Honduras. The Indians remaining on the island were partially killed when the Soufriere erupted in 1812 or were taken to a reserve in the north of the island.
After slavery was banned in the British colonies, Indian contract workers from Asia, especially India, came to Saint Vincent from 1838 to work on the sugar cane plantations.
The island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were soon incorporated into the British colony of the Windward Islands (until 1958). From 1959 they belonged to the West Indian Federation, which only existed until 1962. In 1969, Saint Vincent was granted the status of a state associated with Great Britain and thus internal autonomy as part of the decolonization. Finally, in October 1979, the island nation gained its independence as a parliamentary monarchy under the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The British monarch thus remained head of state and was represented on the islands by a governor general. Robert Milton Cato (until 1984), leader of the “Saint Vincent Labor Party”, became the country’s first prime minister and thus head of government. During his tenure, the volcanic eruption of the Soufriere in the same year and Hurricane Allen in 1980 caused severe damage to the country’s economy.
In 1984 the conservative “New Democratic Party” (NDP) replaced the Labor Party as the dominant political force and appointed the new prime minister with James Fitzallen Mitchell. Mitchell was reappointed in the 1989 elections, as was 1994. He sought to cut unemployment (between 25% and 30%), increase export volumes and expand tourism. In the June 1998 elections, the NDP remained the strongest force in parliament, but suffered significant losses in votes. Mitchell remained head of government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. By avoiding direct taxes, he tried to bring foreign investors into the country. Among other things, this led to the island state being on the so-called “black list” the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation an Development) emerged as one of the countries accused of unfair tax policies and lack of cooperation in the fight against money laundering. In 2010 the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines signed the last of the twelve agreements required to be removed from the OECD gray list.
In the parliamentary elections in March 2001, the opposition ULP (United Labor Party) won the majority of seats and provided Ralph Gonsalves, the country’s new prime minister. In his government statement, he announced the establishment of an anti-corruption agency and advocated the adoption of stricter anti-money laundering laws.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves proposed in 2009 to change the existing form of government (parliamentary monarchy) to a parliamentary republic. The opposition and the population rejected the draft constitution.