MONTSERRAT


 

Also Known as: The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean
Motto: Each Endeavouring, All Achieving

History Sighted by Columbus in 1493. Settled by Anglo-Irish colonists from 1632. The island fell under French occupation twice, but was otherwise continuously British. In 1967, Montserrat opted for colonial status instead of associated statehood. In 1995 the Soufriere Hills Volcano came to life and by 1997 the majority of the population was forced to leave the island.  Approximately two thirds of the island, including the capital, Plymouth, and the W.H. Bramble Airport is currently off limits. However, the northern section of the island remains opened as business goes on as usual here.  Montserrat continues to experience volcanic activity, with an explosive eruption occuring in December 2008.

Geography  
Location:
 
Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates: 16 45 N, 62 12 W
Area: total: 102 sq km
land: 102 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 40 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; little daily or seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: volcanic island, mostly mountainous, with small coastal lowland
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: lava dome in English's Crater (in the Soufriere Hills volcanic complex) estimated at over 930 m (2006)
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 80% (2005)
Natural hazards: severe hurricanes (June to November); volcanic eruptions (Soufriere Hills volcano has erupted continuously since 1995)
Environment - current issues: land erosion occurs on slopes that have been cleared for cultivation
Geography - note: the island is entirely volcanic in origin and comprised of three major volcanic centers of differing ages

People  
Population: 5,097
note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 27.6% (male 731/female 678)
15-64 years: 65.5% (male 1,599/female 1,738)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 232/female 119) (2009 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.392% (2009 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 14% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Nationality: noun: Montserratian(s)
adjective: Montserratian
Ethnic groups: black, white
Religions: Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist, other Christian denominations
Languages: English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 97% (1970 est.)

Government  
Country Name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Montserrat
Dependency status: overseas territory of the UK
Capital: name: Plymouth
geographic coordinates: 16 42 N, 62 13 W

note: Plymouth was abandoned in 1997 because of volcanic activity; interim government buildings have been built at Brades Estate in the Carr's Bay/Little Bay vicinity at the northwest end of Montserrat
Administrative divisions: 3 parishes; Saint Anthony, Saint Georges, Saint Peter
Independence: none (overseas territory of the UK)
National holiday:  
Constitution: effective 19 December 1989
Legal system: English common law and statutory law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Peter A. WATERWORTH (since 27 July 2007)

head of government: Chief Minister Rueben MEADE (since 10 September 2009). Chief Minister Meade was born in 1952 and also held the post of Chief Minister between 1991 and 1996

cabinet: Executive Council consists of the governor, the chief minister, 3 other ministers, the attorney general, and the finance secretary

elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party usually becomes chief minister
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Council (11 seats, 9 popularly elected; members serve five-year terms)
note: expanded in 2001 from 7 to 9 elected members with attorney general and financial secretary sitting as ex-officio members
elections: last held 8 September 2009 (next to be held by 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - MCAP 6, independents 3
note: in 2001, the Elections Commission instituted a single constituency/voter-at-large system whereby all eligible voters cast ballots for all nine seats of the Legislative Council
Judicial branch: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based in Saint Lucia, one judge of the Supreme Court is a resident of the islands and presides over the High Court)
Political parties and leaders: Montserrat Democratic Party or MDP [Lowell LEWIS]; Movement for Change and Prosperity or MCAP [Roselyn CASSELL-SEALY]; New People's Liberation Movement or NPLM [John A. OSBORNE]
International organization participation: Caricom, CDB, Interpol (subbureau), OECS, UPU, WFTU
 
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
 
National Holidays: New Year's Day (01 January); St. Patrick's Day (17 March); Good Friday; Easter Monday; Labor Day (04 May); Whit Monday; August Monday, Christmas Day (25 December); Boxing Day (26 December); Festival Day (31 December)
Date of CARICOM Membership: 1 May  1974
Flag description: blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Montserratian coat of arms centered in the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms features a woman standing beside a yellow harp with her arm around a black cross

Economy  
Overview: Severe volcanic activity, which began in July 1995, has put a damper on this small, open economy. A catastrophic eruption in June 1997 closed the airports and seaports, causing further economic and social dislocation. Two-thirds of the 12,000 inhabitants fled the island. Some began to return in 1998 but lack of housing limited the number. The agriculture sector continued to be affected by the lack of suitable land for farming and the destruction of crops. Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcanic activity and on public sector construction activity. The UK has launched a three-year $122.8 million aid program to help reconstruct the economy. Half of the island is expected to remain uninhabitable for another decade.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $29 million (2002 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $NA
GDP - real growth rate: -1% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $3,400 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.2%
industry: 23.1%
services: 75.7% (1999 est.)
Labor force: 4,521
note: lowered by flight of people from volcanic activity (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 6% (1998 est.)
Budget: revenues: $31.4 million
expenditures: $31.6 million (1997 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.6% (2002 est.)
Agriculture - products: cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers; livestock products
Industries: tourism, rum, textiles, electronic appliances
Exports: $700,000 (2001)
Exports - commodities: electronic components, plastic bags, apparel; hot peppers, limes, live plants; cattle
Imports: $17 million
Imports - commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured goods, fuels, lubricants, and related materials
Exchange rates: East Caribbean dollars (XCD) per US dollar - 2.7 (2007), 2.7 (2006), 2.7 (2005), 2.7 (2004), 2.7 (2003)
note: fixed rate since 1976
Business Hours: Commercial: 8:00 -16:00 hrs Monday to Friday Government:  8:00-16:00 hrs Monday to Friday
Banks: 08:00hrs - 14:00hrs Monday - Thursday
08:00hrs - 15:00hrs Friday

Communications  
Telephones Main Lines in Use 2,800 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 3,000 (2008)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern and fully digitalized
domestic: NA
international: country code - 1-664; landing point for the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) optic submarine cable with links to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)
Internet country code: .ms
Internet hosts: 409 (2008)
Internet users: NA
Transportation:  
Airports with paved runways: 2 under 914 m (2009)
Heliport: Gerald Heliport 
Seaport: Montserrat Ferry Service operates between Antigua and Montserrat's Little Bay Port in Plymouth, daily except Sundays.

Military no regular military forces; Royal Montserrat Police Force (2008), defense is the responsibility of the UK
  Main Source of Information: the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook

Items of Interest  
National Anthem: God Save Our Queen

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen;
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen.

Highest National Awards: Montserrat Badge of Honour
Favourite Local Cuisine: Goat Water, a spicy stew with pieces of goat meat served with a hot crusty bread, Mountain Chicken (Frog Legs)