The Original People
The recorded history of Grenada dates back to the early 1600's. The original people, subsistence agriculturalists, are thought to have come by canoe from the Orinoco Basin in what is now Venezuela in the first century AD. The Arawak people followed in the sixth century, who named the island Ciboney. The next wave of immigrants were the 'Caribs', who arrived in the fifteenth century and conquered the Arawak nation and renamed the place Camerhogne. European history has described the Caribs as 'cannibals' but there is no proof that this was the case. Their correct historical name is the Kalinago. Christopher Columbus sailed by on the Santa Maria and gave the name Concepcion, in honour of the Madonna. This is reflected on the coat of arms with a Madonna lily. The area is still sometimes referred to as the "West Indies"; a legacy of Columbus thinking he was on his way to India!
The French arrived in the early 1600's and after being fought off on numerous occasions by the Caribs they made a violent entrance by almost wiping out the entire Amerindian population. Sauteurs ('Leapers' in French), in St.Patrick's is renowned to be where the last of the Carib people leapt to their death rather than be enslaved by the French. Some Carib people, however, did live on and intermingled with the incoming African population, forming Maroon societies in some of the most inaccesible areas of Grenada.
As the enslavement of the Caribs did not work out for the French, nor European indentured labour, they turned to Africa for their free labour. African people were captured in West Africa and brought to Grenada as in the entire region in the infamous slave trade and forced to work in brutal and degrading conditions. They began to arrive in Grenada soon after the establishment of French rule.
There was a power struggle between the French and the British over a period of years. In 1762 the French surrendered to a British squadron and Grenada remained under British control until the French recaptured it in 1779. However the Treaty of Versailles 1783 handed it back (including Carriacou and Petite Martinique) to the British. In 1795/6 the Fedon rebellion occurred which almost led to emancipation at that time.
The Fedon Rebellion
Julien Fedon, a French-African planter allied with other 'free coloured' and slaves to overthrow the British. The French agreed to free all slaves at that time. The fact that Fedon allied with the slaves in Grenada shows that the underlying cause of the armed struggle that began in 1795 was the injustices of the slave system, not just a French-British conflict which is often put forward. Fedon, after 15 months of struggle almost succeeded in his task, but a large British force attacked from outside and eventually overcame the rebels.
Human development index for Grenada as of 2012 was 0.770, above both the High human development standard of 0.758 and the average for Latin American countries 0.741 during that same year (UNDP, 2013).
The political structure of Grenadian governance is a parliamentary democracy where general elections are held on 5 year intervals and the general duties of the state are instilled in a prime minster (Government of Grenada, 2013).
Grenada has had a turbulent political past reaching back centuries, yet it had become especially unstable following independence from the UK in 1974 (Steele, 2003). A popular uprising, coup d’etat and finally a US invasion (1983) made Grenada politically and financially risky prior to the mid 1980’s. Subsequently, the government of Grenada has proven itself accommodating to foreign and domestic investment and weathered (quite literally) a number of difficult natural disasters and economic downturns (GIDC, 2013). The Grenadian legal system is based on English common and civil law, stemming from its time as a British colony and resulting from its continued membership as a protectorate of the United Kingdom (CIA, 2013).
Grenadians, similar to other Caribbean countries, have a complex extroverted body language stemming from a historic Afro-Caribbean slavery roots (Steele, 2003). Specifically, cultural heritage preservation, in the form of dance, song and gregarious body language and presentation is common in Grenada (Steele, 2003). With an education expenditure of approximately 3.9% of GDP (2003) literacy rates among individuals over 15 years old are 96% in Grenada, much higher than many in Latin American (CIA, 2013). The island supports a diverse educational organization modeled after the British primary and secondary school system and has a technical college (T.A. Marryshow Community College) as well as a private, for-profit international university with undergraduate, graduate, medical and veterinarian doctorate programs (St. Georges University, 2013).
Being an island, the country of Grenada is severely physically constrained in arable land, natural resources and growth potential (GIDC, 2013). At 344 km2 and only 34 km in length, the islands windward location in the Southern Caribbean makes it susceptible to devastating oceanic events, such as hurricane Ivan in 2004 (Associated Press, 2013). Recently the government has come under pressure for the selling of rights to important natural resources such as its fishing and potential coastal oil reserves (Project GloBal, 2006).
With a population of over 109,590, the island nation of Grenada is composed primarily of formally Afro-Caribbean slaves (82%) with some mixed Afro-European (13%) and East Indian (5%) (CIA, 2013). All traces of the original Arawak/Carib Amerindian inhabitants of the island were wiped out in a series of massacres and forced relocation occurring in the 18th century(Steele, 2003). Since the 1980’s gentrification of most urban areas has occurred, accompanied by the movement of large portions of the population from rural communities towards the cities in the south and south-west of the island (CIA, 2013) (Steele, 2003).
Grenada is almost solely a Christian country with 53% of the population being Roman Catholic, 33.2% protestant and 13.8% Anglican (CIA, 2013). The prevalence of the Christian religious leaning of the island stems from colonial residuals, specifically initial colonization by the French from 1649 to 1763 (Roman Catholic) and later by the British from 1763 to 1974 (Anglican and protestant) (Steele, 2003).