Introduction

St. Vincent is one of the largest islands in the chain referred to as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This volcanic island is located in the Caribbean Sea midway between St. Lucia and Grenada, and part of the Windward Island Group. The capital and main town is Kingstown. St. Vincent Island has a unique natural beauty of its own, yet to be discovered by many tourists, making this an ideal vacation place for those who love serenity and want to enjoy the spectacular views of mountains and lush green tropical valleys, cascading waterfalls, rivers, and beautiful beaches. Apart from the natural beauty, you can plan a visit to the historical sites or indulge in under water sports activities like scuba diving. St. Vincent is becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations.

People

The total population on the island of St. Vincent is approximately 118,000 as of July 2008 and it has an annual growth rate of 0.5%. The people are referred to as Vincentians and are mainly descendants of Africa (brought as slaves to work on plantations during the colonial era). Other descendants on the island include Asian Indian, English colonists, French colonists, Carib Indians, and other mixed races. The languages spoken are English and French patois, but English is the official language. The adult literacy rate in the island is approximately 88.1%, according to 2004 figures.

Geography

St. Vincent Island is spread across an area of 133 sq. miles, with a 4048-foot high active volcano that dominates the island, called La Soufriere. This volcano erupted violently in 1812 and in 1902, and again in 1979. Due to these eruptions, many of the beaches of the island have black volcanic sand, but there are also white sandy beaches.

The island has a tropical humid climate and the average temperature varies from 64 to 89 degrees F. There is a dry season from December to May, and a rainy season from June to November. The period from June to November is a time of tropical storms and hurricanes.

History

The Arawak and Carib Indians initially inhabited the island and it was known as Hairouna. On 22nd January 1498, Christopher Columbus renamed the island St. Vincent. The inhabitants prevented the island from being settled by the Europeans until 18th century. In 1719, French settlers cultivated coffee, tobacco, corn, and sugar on plantations, using slaves from Africa imported for this purpose. In 1763, the island was ceded to Britain, but the French sought control of the island in 1779, but again it was restored to Britain in 1789. The British deported most of the Caribs in 1797, so when slavery was abolished in1834, there was a shortage of labor. As a result, Portuguese and East Indians were attracted to work on the plantations. From 1880 to 1958, St. Vincent was a part of the British colony of Windward Island, and from 1958-1962 it was a member of the West Indies Federation. St. Vincent finally achieved independence in October of 1979.

Famous Attractions

St. Vincent is a beautiful mountainous island wrapped in lush tropical greenery. This island offers many historical and cultural sites, rain forest, waterfalls, beaches, botanical gardens, and an active volcano. The botanical garden (established in 1765) on St. Vincent is one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Mt. Wynne beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of black sand beach on St. Vincent Island. Near the little town of Layou you can view the ancient Amerindian rock carvings, or Petroglyphs. The Falls of Baleine can be accessed via a natural trail leading to the falls, or by boat. Visiting Young Island on the southern coast, you can see a hidden white sandy beach on St. Vincent Island. Other attractions on the southern coast are Villa Beach, Blue lagoon, and Indian Bay. St. Vincent offers many activities for visitors including hiking, sailing, diving, and kayaking.

Nightlife

St. Vincent has various bars and restaurants located along the waterfronts and stunning beaches. The evening becomes quite vibrant and active in the bars and resorts, enjoyed by both visitors and locals. The hotels organize various music events during the week and offer live entertainment during the weekend. If you enjoy the activities found in casinos, you may want to plan a visit to Penistone, on the Leeward side of the island.

Culture

The culture of St. Vincent represents a multi-ethnic mix of African, Portuguese, British, and French ancestry, all part of the vibrant and diverse culture of the island.

The official and dominant language of the island is English, but the locals also speak French patois, a mix of African and French grammar. There are many religions practiced in the island, but the main denominations are Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Protestants, and Seventh-day Adventist. Although Christianity is the main religion, a few observe the Baha'i faith.

Cuisine

The cuisine of St. Vincent emphasizes seafood, but visitors can also enjoy good West Indian cuisine. Spices, vegetables, and fruits also play an important role in many local dishes. Some of the specialties of this island cuisine include Kingfish, pumpkin soup, callalou soup, shrimp, lobster, red snapper, lamb, conch, and fresh fruit. Other specialties include asher sauce, bequian lamb stew, fried jackfish, and rice. You may want to try such local beverages as sea moss drink, Hairoun bee,r and Sunset rum, in addition to the local exotic fruit juices. There are various restaurants in Kingstown and Villa Beach area where you can savor the delicious local dishes, or you may opt for French, Creole, Mexican, pizza, and other specialties.