Happy Independence Day to all the Vincentians out there! Among the momentous dates in the history, October 27 is honored as the day when Saint Vincent and the Grenadines gained independence from their former colonial master. This special event commemorates the day in 1979, when Great Britain ended its mandate over the country, granting ‘complete’ independence to the Vincies.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines declared its independence from the United Kingdom on October 27, 1979. Since then the nation celebrates this day annually with great zeal and fervor. The event holds a great importance for every Vincentian, as the historical goal of ‘free St.Vincent and the Grenadines’ was achieved after long centuries of fighting and struggle.
For most of us, the months of autumn are a reason for gloom – summer is gone and Christmas is still far away. But that’s not the case for the Vincentians! On October 27, they celebrate the creation of ‘Independent’ Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the achievement of independence from Great Britain in 1979 is recognized.
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- 1 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Road To Independence
- 2 “Meaning of Independence” for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- 3 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: National Flag, Colors & Symbolism
- 4 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Coat of Arms & Motto
- 5 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Day: Public Life
- 6 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Day: Celebrations, Life, Customs & Traditions
- 7 Interesting Information about Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- 8 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Land, Relief, Soil & Drainage
- 9 What’s the climate of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?
- 10 People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: What Language Do They Speak?
- 11 People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: What Religion Do They Follow?
- 12 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Life Expectancy & Birth Rate
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Road To Independence
How did Saint Vincent and the Grenadines gain independence? This module here provides a complete overview of the key events on SVG’s (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) road to independence.
From 1763 to 1979, St. Vincent and the Grenadines passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was approved in 1776, Crown Colony government was introduced in 1877, a legislative council was made in 1925, and universal adult suffrage was granted in 1951.
This southern Carribean nation was first inhabited by Arawaks, who were later thrown out by the Caribs; the latter showed a strong resistance to European colonization. In January 1498, the main island was sighted by Christopher Columbus who named it after the saint whose feast falls on that day – the feast day of the patron saint of Lisbon and Valencia, Vincent of Saragossa.
In 1627, Charles I of England handed over the island to Lord Carlisle, but no any European settlers arrived. 45 years later in 1672, Charles II granted the island to Lord Willoughby; ownership was questioned by the British, French and Spanish. Every one of these claims was opposed by the Caribs.
The Caribs did not, however, oppose the settlement of a shipload of oppressed Africans who got away after a shipwreck in 1673, and in due time seem to have merged with the Carib community through intermarriage.
In 1773, under an Anglo/Carib treaty, the Caribs were permitted to keep on living freely in the north of the island. In 1779, France took control of the island, but restored it to Britain only four-years-later in 1783, under the Treaty of Versailles.
In 1795–96, the Caribs revolted, helped by the French in Martinique; when this had been smashed, the rebels were ousted to the island of Roatan in the Bay of Honduras. A plantation economy, in view of slave labor, developed, producing sugar, cotton, espresso, and cocoa. In 1812 La Soufrière (the largest volcano and country’s highest peak) erupted and crushed a significant part of the island. After the liberation of slaves by Britain in 1834, indentured labor from the East Indies and Portugal was acquired to cure the labor shortage.
By the mid-19th-century, sugar industry collapsed and the economy stayed extremely depressed for many years. In the early 20th century, natural disasters further damaged the economy: with severe tropical storms, hurricanes, and a further eruption of La Soufrière in 1902 which crushed the northern portion of the island and killed around 2,000 people.
During the period of its colonial rule in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the British tried their best to affiliate the island with the other Windward Islands, but all the attempts failed badly. If this had happened, this would have simplified Britain’s control over the island through a unified administration.
St Vincent and the Grenadines was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. After its dissolution in 1962, and the move of major Caribbean nations to independence individually, the progress towards autonomy started in St Vincent.
At first, the smaller Eastern Caribbean nations endeavored to set up their very own federation, but arrangements among them were unsuccessful. Universal adult suffrage had just been set up (and the executive council committee turned out to be partly elective) in 1951. Internal self-government was accomplished in 1969 and full Independence in October 1979.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was granted “associate statehood” status by Great Britain on October 27, 1969. This gave SVG complete hold over its internal affairs but was short of full autonomy. Ten years later on October 27, 1979, following a referendum under Milton Cato, this nation was granted ‘complete’ independence.
St.Vincent became the last of the Windward Islands to have gained freedom from their colonial masters. The Independence Day came on the 10th anniversary of Saint Vincent’s associate statehood status.
General Elections were held in the state, two months after independence in 1979. The elections gave overwhelming victory Milton Cato’s St Vincent Labor Party (SVLP), the party which had struggled most vigorously for autonomy.
So this is how Saint Vincent and the Grenadines gained independence from their former colonial master. The Independence Day in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is celebrated every year on October 27.
“Meaning of Independence” for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The importance of Independence for the Vincentians can’t be marked in words! Becoming an independent nation, meant that Britain can longer control the affairs of the country. The Vincies can now walk ‘freely’ and ‘proudly’ on their own soil. It was now the responsibility of the newly elected government to control the state.
Independence also meant that the country now has its own army, passport, law, national flag, symbols, and emblems. St.Vincent and the Grenadines could now assign Ambassadors overseas who represent the country and sign treaties on behalf of the country and become members of various international organizations.
This is important, as it gives the nation equal rights on different issues relating to policies, treaties, and international trade.
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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: National Flag, Colors & Symbolism
The National Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was adopted on October 21, 1985. It is composed of three vertical bands of blue, gold (double width), and green. There are three green diamonds arranged in the V pattern, centered on the gold band.
Here’s what the colors and symbols of the National Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines represent:
- Blue Band – represents the tropical sky and the crystal waters
- Yellow/Gold Band – represents the Grenadine Islands which come under the control of the government of St. Vincent
- Green Band – stands for the islands lush green vegetation
*Three green diamonds – the three diamonds in the yellow band recall Saint Vincent as the “gems of the Antilles”. The diamonds are set below the central point of the flag, recalling the nation’s location in the Antilles.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Coat of Arms & Motto
The coat of arms of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has a cotton plant on the top. The centerpiece is based on the colonial badge used from 1907 to 1979, featuring two women in classical Roman attire.
One woman is holding an olive branch and the other holds scales of justice and kneels before a gold alter placed between them.
Underneath the badge, there’s the country’s motto which reads some Latin words: “Pax et Justitia” meaning “Peace and Justice”
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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Day: Public Life
St.Vincent and the Grenadines gained full independence from the United Kingdom on October 27, 1979. Since then, the nation annually celebrates its independence day, that is a national holiday in the country. All offices, schools, institutes, and businesses observe a holiday on this day.
Every year various events are organized to celebrate this national holiday. Some festive events start 2-3 days before the Independence Day. The Vincies enjoy military parades, cultural exhibitions, and attend church service. The citizens often wear national colors on this day to show their love and respect for their beautiful country.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Day: Celebrations, Life, Customs & Traditions
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Independence Day is celebrated every year on October 27. The day is a national holiday widely celebrated throughout the country. It’s marked with military parades, carnivals, cultural exhibitions, official speeches and ceremonies, and other festive events. Here’s how the Vincies welcome their country’s Independence Day:
St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrates its autonomy with a national holiday. The center of Independence Day celebrations is Kingstown, the country’s capital city. The National Day of SVG begins with special prayers for peace, progress, and development in the country.
Political officials and hundreds of citizens gathered in the stadium of Kingstown, to commemorate the Carribean country’s independence day with a military salute. The citizens celebrate the anniversary and watch as the military and defense forces march the stadium fields and show their strength, power, and unity. Many dressed in the colors of the national flag: green, yellow, and blue – to celebrate the day.
The Independence Day parade is followed by ceremonies and speeches by government officials. There are special seminars to pay tribute to St. Vincent’s ancient leaders and fighters who devoted their lives to throw colonials masters out of their beloved country and struggled for a ‘free & independent’ nation.
The National Flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is hoisted all important public and private buildings. Many citizens decorate their streets and towns, with flag pennants and colorful lights.
On this special day, the Prime Minister along with other high-profile government officials, pay special guard of honor to all those political leaders, civil servants, and common people who paved the road to independence and turned the dream of an ‘independent nation’ into reality.
While many Vincentians head out to the capital to see the Independence Day parades and engage in different festivals, some Vincies celebrate their country’s independence by visiting recreational spots to have a great picnic with their families and friends.
Colorful firework shows, cultural dance performances, concerts, and carnivals further add glitz and glamour to the event and are a staple of Independence Day!
The Independence Day in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a proud day for all the Vincentians. The event is welcomed and celebrated with utmost devotion and enthusiasm. The day reminds Vincies the unforgettable struggles and sacrifices made by their forefathers for next generations to live in freedom.
Interesting Information about Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country lying within the Lesser Antilles, in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The country consists of the island of Saint Vincent and the northern Grenadine Islands, which spread southward toward Grenada. The island of Saint Vincent lies about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Saint Lucia and 100 miles (160 km) west of Barbados. It is 18 miles (30 km) long and has a maximum width of 11 miles (18 km).
The larger islands of the Grenadines associated with Saint Vincent are Mustique, Bequia, Canouan, Prune (Palm) Island, Mayreau, Petit Saint Vincent Island, and Union Island. The Tobago Cays, just toward the east of Mayreau, have been assigned a wildlife reserve. The sovereign state is also known as Saint Vincent.
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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Land, Relief, Soil & Drainage
The island of Saint Vincent is home to largest volcanic mountains running north-south, and numerous swift streams that are small except after heavy rains. The two highest peaks are both on the volcano Soufrière which erupted disastrously many times, seriously damaging the country’s agriculture, destroying the economy, killing thousands of people, and temporarily displacing residents of communities around foothills of the volcano.
The soil of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is very fertile. When the La Soufrière erupted, the volcanic ash spread as far as Barbados, which is said to have enhanced the fertility of the soil in the country. The fertile soil permits the easy cultivation of fruits and veggies, as well as arrowroot.
What’s the climate of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?
The island lies in between the path of the northeast trade winds and has a tropical maritime climate. The dry season lasts from January to May. Heavy showers occur from June and continue until the end of the year.
Rainfall and temperature vary with elevation. Average annual rainfall ranges from 1500 mm on the coast to 3800 mm in the central mountainous regions. Frequent rains occur on the eastern side of the island, and the coastal area.
In Kingstown, the temperatures averages between 18°C and 32°C.
Severe Hurricanes occasionally pass across the island, due to which the citizens may have to suffer damages like the destruction of cars or homes. Most severe and destructive tropical cyclones hit the island in 1780, 1898, 1955, and 1980.
People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: What Language Do They Speak?
Around 65% of the inhabitants are Africans who were enslaved and brought to work on the sugar plantations. About 1/5th of the populace is of mixed African-European family line. There are small minorities of individuals of South Asian, European, Carib, and mix African and Carib descent; the latter known as the Garifuna.
English is the official language of St.Vincent and the Grenadines. It is used in schools, education, religion, government, and other formal domains.
Most Vincentians also speak Vincentian Creole, but it is only used in informal situations such as in the home or among friends.
People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: What Religion Do They Follow?
More than 80% of the population of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is considered Christian. 10% has another religion, 10% has no religion.
The number of non-Christians is limited. These religious groups are Hindus, Muslims, and Rastafarians.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Life Expectancy & Birth Rate
Life Expectancy in SVG is about 70 years for males and in the mid-70s for females. The country once has the highest birth rates in the West Indies. The figure has declined drastically in the late 20th century, largely as the result of government’s family-planning campaigns and programmes.
The Economy of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
The Agriculture sector has played a vital role in the economic development of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s the single largest component of GDP in the country. The island is one of the world’s few producers of arrowroot and is the greatest exporter of it.
Cotton and sugarcane were once important to the economy, but since the second half of the 20th century, bananas have become the leading export of the country, and cotton is no longer grown.
The fishing industry is setting new records every year. Lobster, conch, swordfish, and tuna are the main seafood exported to other Caribbean islands and to the United States, as well as Miami and New York City.
Major Exports & Imports:
The major exports of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are – bananas, seafood, arrowroot, packaged flour and rice, root crops
The major imports are – machinery, chemicals, fuel, and transport equipment, coming mainly from the United States and the Caricom countries, especially Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
Tourism in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines:
Tourism has played a significant role in boosting the country’s economy, especially with the accessibility of the Grenadines through the airplane terminals set up all through the islands and the use of large, modern boats.
Lush green landscapes and fine beaches attract lots of tourists in the region. Many foreigners spend their vacations here to enjoy the island’s pleasant weather, engage in yachting and sports fishing, discover the magnificent landscapes and relax alongside the fine beaches.
The island of Mustique is privately owned by a consortium of landowners, many of whom rent their properties to vacationers.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Government & Society
St. Vincent is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary type of government. The British monarch is the head of state and is represented by a delegated governor-general. A Prime Minister, the pioneer of the party, is the head of government. The unicameral governing body is the House of Assembly. It is made of 15 members (called representatives) elected to five-year terms by universal adult suffrage, alongside six nonelected individuals (called senators) who are named by the governor general.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Education
Primary education is free but not compulsory. Secondary education is important and begins at age 11. Most schools are administered by the government. Only a few educational institutes are run by Catholic and Anglican religious organizations with government’s assistance.
Other educational institutes include technical and vocational schools, a school for disabled children, and Saint Vincent Community College. The University of the West Indies Open Campus has a location in Saint Vincent.
Must-know Facts about Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
*Do you know? The island has twice won the award of the “Best Honeymoon Island of The Year” presented by Caribbean Travel World Awards in 2007 and again in 2008 – which makes this place an ideal Honeymoon destination!
- Capital: Kingstown
- Abbreviation: SVG
- Official Language: English
- Religion: Mostly Christian (Anglican)
- Ethnic Groups: African (Black), Indian, European, Carib Amerindian, Mixed
- People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are called: Vincentians or Vincies
- Independence – Associate State: 27 October 1969
- Independence – complete freedom from the UK: 27 October 1979
- Population: About 110,000
- Currency: East Caribbean Dollar
- National Bird: Amazona Guildingii
- National Dish: Fried Jackfish with Roasted Breadfruit
- National Anthem: Land So Beautiful
- National Flower: Soufriere Tree
- Famous Sport: Cricket and Football are very popular sports in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Vincies organize cricket and football matches on any flat, open ground, including the beach. A famous sport played by women on the islands is Netball.
- There are 32 islands and cays that makeup St.Vincent – of these only nine are inhabited
- There’s an active volcano (La Soufriere) which rises to 4,048 feet
- There are five Airports in St Vincent & The Grenadines
- St Vincent & The Grenadines is home to the world’s oldest Batonic Gardens, having been founded in 1765
- Mesopotamia Valley in St Vincent and the Grenadines has one of the most fertile soils in the world
- Some famous movies filmed in St. Vincent & the Grenadines are White Squall, Pirates of the Caribbean I, II and III
- In St. Vincent, women, and men are allowed to have a number of children by different partners