Carib Indians inhabited Grenada when COLUMBUS discovered the island in 1498, but it remained uncolonized for more than a century. The French settled Grenada in the 17th century, established sugar estates, and imported large numbers of African slaves. Britain took the island in 1762 and vigorously expanded sugar production. In the 19th century, cacao eventually surpassed sugar as the main export crop; in the 20th century, nutmeg became the leading export. In 1967, Britain gave Grenada autonomy over its internal affairs. Full independence was attained in 1974 making Grenada one of the smallest independent countries in the Western Hemisphere. Grenada was seized by a Marxist military council on 19 October 1983. Six days later the island was invaded by US forces and those of six other Caribbean nations, which quickly captured the ringleaders and their hundreds of Cuban advisers. Free elections were reinstituted the following year and have continued since that time. Hurricane Ivan struck Grenada in September of 2004 causing severe damage.
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Carlyle Arnold GLEAN (since 27 November 2008)
head of government:
Prime Minister Tillman THOMAS (since 9 July 2008)
Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (13 seats, 10 appointed by the government and 3 by the leader of the opposition) and the House of Representatives (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
last held on 8 July 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDC 11, NNP 4
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, consisting of a court of Appeal and a High Court of Justice (two High Court judges are assigned to and reside in Grenada); Itinerant Court of Appeal three judges; member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
a rectangle divided diagonally into yellow triangles (top and bottom) and green triangles (hoist side and outer side), with a red border around the flag; there are seven yellow, five-pointed stars with three centered in the top red border, three centered in the bottom red border, and one on a red disk superimposed at the center of the flag; there is also a symbolic nutmeg pod on the hoist-side triangle (Grenada is the world's second-largest producer of nutmeg, after Indonesia); the seven stars represent the seven administrative divisions
Grenada relies on tourism as its main source of foreign exchange especially since the construction of an international airport in 1985. Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005) severely damaged the agricultural sector - particularly nutmeg and cocoa cultivation - which had been a key driver of economic growth. Grenada has rebounded from the devastating effects of the hurricanes but is now saddled with the debt burden from the rebuilding process. Public debt-to-GDP is nearly 110%, leaving the THOMAS administration limited room to engage in public investments and social spending. Strong performances in construction and manufacturing, together with the development of tourism and an offshore financial industry, have also contributed to growth in national output; however, economic growth will likely slow in 2009 because of the global economic slowdown's effects on tourism and remittances.
general assessment: automatic, islandwide telephone system
interisland VHF and UHF radiotelephone links
country code - 1-473; landing point for the East Caribbean Fiber Optic System (ECFS) submarine cable with links to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad; SHF radiotelephone links to Trinidad and Tobago and Saint Vincent; VHF and UHF radio links to Trinidad