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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Photos of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

A view of the jungle on St. Vincent, taken from the beach. The rocks in the foreground are the remains of lava flows from a 1979 eruption of La Soufriere volcano.

Introduction

Background

Resistance by native Caribs prevented colonization on Saint Vincent until 1719. Disputed between France and the UK for most of the 18th century, the island was ceded to the latter in 1783. The British prized Saint Vincent due to its fertile soil, which allowed for thriving slave-run plantations of sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, cotton, and cocoa. In 1834, the British abolished slavery. Immigration of indentured servants eased the ensuing labor shortage, as did subsequent Portuguese immigrants from Madeira and East Indian laborers. Conditions remained harsh for both former slaves and immigrant agricultural workers, however, as depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the early 1900s. The economy then went into a period of decline with many landowners abandoning their estates and leaving the land to be cultivated by liberated slaves. Between 1960 and 1962, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was a separate administrative unit of the Federation of the West Indies. Autonomy was granted in 1969 and independence in 1979.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago

Geographic coordinates

13 15 N, 61 12 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 389 sq km (Saint Vincent 344 sq km)

land: 389 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 204

Area - comparative

twice the size of Washington, DC

<p>twice the size of Washington, DC</p>

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November)

Terrain

volcanic, mountainous

Elevation

highest point: La Soufriere 1,234 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

Natural resources

hydropower, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 25.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 12.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 7.7% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 5.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 68.7% (2018 est.)

other: 5.7% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

10 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most of the population is concentrated in and around the capital of Kingstown

Natural hazards

hurricanes; La Soufriere volcano on the island of Saint Vincent is a constant threat

volcanism: La Soufriere (1,234 m) on the island of Saint Vincent last erupted in 1979; the island of Saint Vincent is part of the volcanic island arc of the Lesser Antilles that extends from Saba in the north to Grenada in the south

Geography - note

the administration of the islands of the Grenadines group is divided between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is comprised of 32 islands and cays

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Saint Vincentian(s) or Vincentian(s)

adjective: Saint Vincentian or Vincentian

Ethnic groups

African descent 71.2%, mixed 23%, Indigenous 3%, East Indian/Indian 1.1%, European 1.5%, other 0.2% (2012 est.)

Languages

English, Vincentian Creole English, French patois

Religions

Protestant 75% (Pentecostal 27.6%, Anglican 13.9%, Seventh Day Adventist 11.6%,  Baptist 8.9%, Methodist 8.7%, Evangelical 3.8%, Salvation Army .3%, Presbyterian/Congregational .3%), Roman Catholic 6.3%,  Rastafarian 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 0.8%, other 4.7%, none 7.5%, unspecified 4.7% (2012 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.15% (male 10,309/female 10,121)

15-24 years: 14.83% (male 7,582/female 7,451)

25-54 years: 42.63% (male 22,395/female 20,824)

55-64 years: 11.68% (male 6,136/female 5,703)

65 years and over: 10.72% (male 5,167/female 5,702) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 46.7

youth dependency ratio: 32.1

elderly dependency ratio: 14.5

potential support ratio: 6.9 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 35.3 years

male: 35.4 years

female: 35.1 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

Birth rate

12.44 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 152

Death rate

7.42 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 103

Net migration rate

-6.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 213

Population distribution

most of the population is concentrated in and around the capital of Kingstown

Urbanization

urban population: 53.5% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.94% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

27,000 KINGSTOWN (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

98 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Infant mortality rate

total: 13.16 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 14.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 11.38 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 110

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.43 years

male: 74.37 years

female: 78.55 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 104

Drinking water source

improved: total: 95.1% of population

unimproved: total: 4.9% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.66 physicians/1,000 population

Hospital bed density

4.3 beds/1,000 population (2016)

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 90.2% of population

unimproved: total: 9.8% of population (2017 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 15 years (2015)

Environment

Environment - current issues

pollution of coastal waters and shorelines from discharges by pleasure yachts and other effluents; in some areas, pollution is severe enough to make swimming prohibitive; poor land use planning; deforestation; watershed management and squatter settlement control

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 21.2 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.22 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 0.09 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 8.5 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 2,000 cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 0 cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

100 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Climate

tropical; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November)

Land use

agricultural land: 25.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 12.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 7.7% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 5.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 68.7% (2018 est.)

other: 5.7% (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 159

Urbanization

urban population: 53.5% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.94% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 31,561 tons (2015 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

etymology: Saint Vincent was named by explorer Christopher COLUMBUS after Saint VINCENT of Saragossa because the 22 January 1498 day of discovery was the saint's feast day

Government type

parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Kingstown

geographic coordinates: 13 08 N, 61 13 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: an earlier French settlement was renamed Kingstown by the British in 1763 when they assumed control of the island; the king referred to in the name is George III (r. 1760-1820)

Administrative divisions

6 parishes; Charlotte, Grenadines, Saint Andrew, Saint David, Saint George, Saint Patrick

Independence

27 October 1979 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 27 October (1979)

Constitution

history: previous 1969, 1975; latest drafted 26 July 1979, effective 27 October 1979 (The Saint Vincent Constitution Order 1979)

amendments: proposed by the House of Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership and assent of the governor general; passage of amendments to constitutional sections on fundamental rights and freedoms, citizen protections, various government functions and authorities, and constitutional amendment procedures requires approval by the Assembly membership, approval in a referendum of at least two thirds of the votes cast, and assent of the governor general

Legal system

English common law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Susan DOUGAN (since 1 August 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Ralph E. GONSALVES (since 29 March 2001)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Assembly (23 seats; 15 representatives directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, 6 senators appointed by the governor general, and 2 ex officio members - the speaker of the house and the attorney general; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 5 November 2020 (next to be held in 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party - ULP 49.58%, NDP 50.34%, other 0.8%; seats by party - ULP 9, NDP 6

Judicial branch

highest courts: the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is the superior court of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; the ECSC - headquartered on St. Lucia - consists of the Court of Appeal - headed by the chief justice and 4 judges - and the High Court with 18 judges; the Court of Appeal is itinerant, traveling to member states on a schedule to hear appeals from the High Court and subordinate courts; High Court judges reside in the member states, with 2 assigned to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; note - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is also a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice

judge selection and term of office: chief justice of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court appointed by Her Majesty, Queen ELIZABETH II; other justices and judges appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, an independent body of judicial officials; Court of Appeal justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 65; High Court judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 62

subordinate courts: magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Republican Party or DRP [Anesia BAPTISTE]
New Democratic Party or NDP [Godwin L. FRIDAY]
Unity Labor Party or ULP [Dr. Ralph GONSALVES] (formed in 1994 by the coalition of Saint Vincent Labor Party or SVLP and the Movement for National Unity or MNU)
SVG Green Party or SVGP [Ivan O'NEAL]

International organization participation

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (subscriber), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OECS, OPANAL, OPCW, Petrocaribe, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Lou-Anne Gaylene GILCHRIST (since 18 January 2017)

chancery: 1627 K Street, NW, Suite 1202, Washington, DC 20006

telephone: [1] (202) 364-6730

FAX: [1] (202) 364-6730

email address and website:
mail@embsvg.com

http://wa.embassy.gov.vc/washington/

consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: the US does not have an embassy in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; the US Ambassador to Barbados is accredited to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Flag description

three vertical bands of blue (hoist side), gold (double width), and green; the gold band bears three green diamonds arranged in a V pattern, which stands for Vincent; the diamonds recall the islands as "the Gems of the Antilles" and are set slightly lowered in the gold band to reflect the nation's position in the Antilles; blue conveys the colors of a tropical sky and crystal waters, yellow signifies the golden Grenadine sands, and green represents lush vegetation

National symbol(s)

Saint Vincent parrot; national colors: blue, gold, green

National anthem

name: St. Vincent! Land So Beautiful!

lyrics/music: Phyllis Joyce MCCLEAN PUNNETT/Joel Bertram MIGUEL

note: adopted 1967

Economy

Economic overview

Success of the economy hinges upon seasonal variations in agriculture, tourism, and construction activity, as well as remittances. Much of the workforce is employed in banana production and tourism. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is home to a small offshore banking sector and continues to fully adopt international regulatory standards.

This lower-middle-income country remains vulnerable to natural and external shocks. The economy has shown some signs of recovery due to increased tourist arrivals, falling oil prices and renewed growth in the construction sector. The much anticipated international airport opened in early 2017 with hopes for increased airlift and tourism activity. The government's ability to invest in social programs and respond to external shocks is constrained by its high public debt burden, which was 67% of GDP at the end of 2013.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.38 billion (2019 est.)

$1.373 billion (2018 est.)

$1.344 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 204

Real GDP growth rate

0.7% (2017 est.)

0.8% (2016 est.)

0.8% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 181

Real GDP per capita

$12,485 (2019 est.)

$12,466 (2018 est.)

$12,245 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 127

GDP (official exchange rate)

$785 million (2017 est.)

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: B3 (2014)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 7.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 17.4% (2017 est.)

services: 75.5% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 87.3% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 16.6% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 10.8% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 37.1% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -51.7% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

bananas, sugar cane, roots/tubers nes, plantains, vegetables, fruit, coconuts, sweet potatoes, yams, mangoes/guavas

Industries

tourism; food processing, cement, furniture, clothing, starch

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 26%

industry: 17%

services: 57% (1980 est.)

Budget

revenues: 225.2 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 230 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

73.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

82.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 42

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$116 million (2017 est.)

-$122 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Exports

$48.6 million (2017 est.)

$47.3 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 204

Exports - partners

Jordan 39%, Singapore 14% (2019)

Exports - commodities

natural gas, drilling platforms and ships, recreational boats, collector's items, eddoes and dasheen (taro), arrowroot starch (2019)

Imports

$295.9 million (2017 est.)

$294.6 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 207

Imports - partners

United States 30%, Trinidad and Tobago 12%, China 8%, United Kingdom 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, ships, poultry meats, tug boats, recreational boats (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$182.1 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$192.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 178

Debt - external

$362.2 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$330.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 182

Exchange rates

East Caribbean dollars (XCD) per US dollar -

2.7 (2017 est.)

2.7 (2016 est.)

2.7 (2015 est.)

2.7 (2014 est.)

2.7 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 12,934

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12.74 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 188

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 102,700

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 101.15 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 193

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: adequate island-wide, fully automatic telephone system; broadband access; expanded FttP (Fiber to the Home) markets; LTE launches; regulatory development; telecom sector contributes greatly to the overall GDP; telecom sector is a growth area (2020)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity exceeds 12 per 100 persons and mobile-cellular teledensity is about 93 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 1-784; landing points for the ECFS, CARCIP and Southern Caribbean Fiber submarine cables providing connectivity to US and Caribbean Islands; connectivity also provided by VHF/UHF radiotelephone from Saint Vincent to Barbados; SHF radiotelephone to Grenada and Saint Lucia; access to Intelsat earth station in Martinique through Saint Lucia (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Broadcasting Corporation operates 1 TV station and 5 repeater stations that provide near total coverage to the multi-island state; multi-channel cable TV service available; a partially government-funded national radio service broadcasts on 1 station and has 2 repeater stations; about a dozen privately owned radio stations and repeater stations

Internet users

total: 22,803

percent of population: 22.39% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 208

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 22,491

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 22.15 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 153

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11

Airports - with paved runways

total: 5

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Merchant marine

total: 813

by type: bulk carrier 22, container ship 17, general cargo 163, oil tanker 16, other 595 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 29

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Kingstown

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; the Special Services Unit (SSU) is the paramilitary arm of the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVPF) (2021)

Military - note

the country has been a member of the Caribbean Regional Security System (RSS) since its creation in 1982; RSS signatories (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts, and Saint Lucia) agreed to prepare contingency plans and assist one another, on request, in national emergencies, prevention of smuggling, search and rescue, immigration control, fishery protection, customs and excise control, maritime policing duties, protection of off-shore installations, pollution control, national and other disasters, and threats to national security

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe; small-scale cannabis cultivation