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Photographer's Note

Picture taken while passing Montserrat en route from Barbados to Puerto Rico while on the Serenade of the Seas.

MONTSERRAT

Montserrat, part of the Leeward Islands, is a British Overseas Territory located in the Caribbean Sea. A link in the chain of islands known as the Lesser Antilles, the island is approximately 16 km (10 miles) long, 11 km (7 miles) wide and has 40 kilometres (25 mi) of coastline.

History

Montserrat was populated by Arawak and Carib people when it was claimed by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage for Spain in 1493, naming the island Santa María de Montserrate, after the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrat, which is located on the Mountain of Montserrat, in Catalonia. The island fell under English control in 1632 when a group of Irish fleeing anti-Roman Catholic sentiment in Saint Kitts and Nevis settled there. The import of slaves followed and an economy based on sugar, rum, arrowroot and cotton was establishedin the 17th and 18th centuries. The slaves, predominantly West African in origin, also included many exiled Cromwell-era Irish.

In 1782, during the American Revolutionary War, Montserrat was briefly captured by France. It was returned to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Paris which ended that conflict. A failed slave uprising on 17 March 1798 led to Montserrat later becoming one of only four places in the world that celebrates St Patrick's Day as a public or bank holiday (the others being the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador). Slavery was finally abolished in Montserrat in 1834, presumably as a result of the general emancipation of slaves within the British Empire in that same year.

Falling sugar prices during the nineteenth century had an adverse effect on the island's economy and in 1869 the philanthropist Joseph Sturge of Birmingham formed the Montserrat Company to buy sugar estates that were no longer economically viable. The company planted limes starting production of the island's famous lime juice, set up a school, and sold parcels of land to the inhabitants of the island, with the result that much of Montserrat came to be owned by smallholders.

From 1871 to 1958 Montserrat was administered as part of the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands, becoming a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962.


With the completion of Beatles producer George Martin’s AIR Studios Montserrat in 1979, the island attracted world-famous musicians who came to record in the peace and quiet and lush tropical surroundings of Montserrat.[4]

The last several years of the 20th century, however, brought two events which devastated the island. In September 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck Montserrat with full force, damaging over 90 percent of the structures on the island. AIR Studios closed, and the tourist trade upon which the island depended was nearly wiped out. Within a few years, however, the island had recovered considerably—only to be struck again by disaster.

In July 1995, Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano, dormant throughout recorded history, rumbled to life and began an eruption which eventually buried the island's capital, Plymouth, in more than 12 metres (39 ft) of mud, destroyed its airport and docking facilities, and rendered the southern half of the island uninhabitable. This forced more than half of the population to flee the island because they lacked housing. After a period of regular eruptive events during the late 1990s including one on June 25, 1997 in which 19 people lost their lives, the volcano's activity in recent years has been confined mostly to infrequent ventings of ash into the uninhabited areas in the south. However, this ash venting does occasionally extend into the populated areas of the northern and western parts of the island. As an example, on May 20, 2006, the lava dome that had been slowly building collapsed, resulting in an ashfall of about an inch (2.5 cm) in Old Towne and parts of Olveston. There were no injuries or significant property damage.

Long referred to as "The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean" for both its Irish heritage and its resemblance to coastal Ireland, Montserrat today remains lush and green. A new airport, opened officially by the Princess Royal Princess Anne in February 2005, received its first commercial flights on July 11, 2005, and docking facilities are in place at Little Bay where a new capital is being constructed out of reach of any further volcanic activity.

The people of Montserrat were granted full residency rights in the United Kingdom in 1998, and citizenship was granted in 2002.


Its Georgian era capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and two-thirds of the island's population forced to flee abroad by an eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano that began on July 18, 1995. The eruption continues today on a much reduced scale, the damage being confined to the areas around Plymouth including its docking facilities and the former W.H. Bramble Airport. The village of Brades currently serves as the de facto centre of government. A new airport at Gerald's in the northern part of the island opened in 2005.
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Capital: Plymouth (a); Brades (de facto)
Official languages: English
Government: British Overseas Territory

Area
- Total 102 km² (219th), 39 sq mi
- Water (%) negligible

Population
- July 2005 estimate 4,488 (b), (216th)

GDP (PPP) 2002 estimate
- Total $29 million (not ranked)
- Per capita $3,400 (not ranked)

HDI: n/a (unranked) (n/a)
Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Time zone: (UTC-4)
Internet TLD: .ms
Calling code: +1 664

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(a) Abandoned in 1997 following a volcanic eruption. Government buildings are currently located in Brades, making it the de facto capital.

(b) An estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned.


Excepts from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Kevin KL (kk_wpg) Silver Note Writer [C: 0 W: 0 N: 88] (361)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2006-02-17
  • Categories: Nature
  • Exposure: f/8, 1/400 seconds
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2010-02-19 18:52
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