The small island nation of Grenada is the southernmost island of the north-south arc of the Lesser Antilles, lying in the eastern Caribbean Sea about 160 miles (100 miles) north of the coast of Venezuela. Volcanic in origin, this mountainous island is carved by deep valleys with beautiful waterfalls and is blessed with tropical rainforest. Here are some interesting facts about Grenada.
Facts about Grenada
1. Grenada actually comprises three main islands and some 20 smaller cays and islets.
The three chief islands are Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique. There are numerous small islands and cays surrounding the larger island. Oval in shape, the main island is approximately 34 kilometers (21 miles) long and 19 kilometers (12 miles) wide.
2. Grenada is the second smallest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Grenada has a total area of 344 km² (133 sq mi), which makes it slightly less than twice the size of Washington DC. It is the second smallest independent country in the western hemisphere. Only St. Kitts & Nevis, which is also in the Caribbean, is smaller.
3. Grenada is the most southerly of the Windward Islands.
The Windward Islands comprises Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. These islands are called Windward because they are more windward (upwind from a given reference point) to arriving Caribbean cruise ships than the Leeward Islands.
4. Grenada has a coastline of 121 km (75 mi).
All along Grenada’s 121 km (75 mi) long coastline are a bevy of stunning white and
5. The tallest mountain in Grenada is Mount St. Catherine.
Grenada is quite hilly, with a ridge of mountains running north and south—the steeper slopes to the west and a more gradual incline to the east and southeast. Located in the northern part of the interior of the main island, Mount St. Catherine is the highest point in Grenada and reaches an elevation of 840 m (2,756 ft).
6. Grenada was settled by the Caribs in the 11th century.
Grenada was first settled by groups of South American warriors called the Caribs sometime between AD 750-1200.
7. Christopher Columbus was the first known European to sight Grenada.
The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus was the first known European to sight Grenada on his third voyage to the New World in 1498. However, Columbus didn’t land on the island and the name he gave Grenada (“La Concepción”) never caught on.
8. Grenada gets its name from the Spanish city of Granada.
One of the interesting facts about Grenada is that its name derives from the city of Granada in Spain. Passing Spanish sailors found its lush green hills evocative of the city in the Spanish region of Andalusia. In Spanish, the word “granada” means “pomegranate.”
9. Grenada was one of the last Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans.
Like much of the Windward Islands, Grenada was one of the final Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans due to the ferocious resistance shown by the Caribs. The island’s mountainous terrain also helped provide sanctuary for the Carib people during attacks from the early colonists.
10. Grenada is a former British and French colony.
Grenada became the object of a political tug-of-war between the British and French, resulting in a land battle that continued throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. While fighting each other, the Europeans also had to contend with the aggressive Caribs.
Dominica was initially a French possession from the 1650s to 1763. In 1763, Britain gained possession of Grenada following the end of the Seven Years’ War. However, the French continued to be an important part of island life and vied for political power at every opportunity.
Finally, under the Treaty of Versailles in 1783, Grenada was permanently ceded to the British. In the late-18th century, Africans were brought over by the British to work on the island’s coffee, cocoa, nutmeg, and sugar plantations.
11. Grenada attained independence in 1974.
After World War II, many colonies of Great Britain sought independence and Grenada was no exception. The British granted Grenada complete internal autonomy by 1967 and on 7 February 1974, Grenada became a fully independent state.
12. The head of state of Grenada is Queen Elizabeth II.
Grenada has been part of the Commonwealth since 1974 when it reached independence from the United Kingdom. As part of the Commonwealth, the country’s monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II.
However, the Queen does not have a role in the day-to-day running of Grenada. The real executive power over Australia lies in the hands of its prime minister. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the Queen appoints the Governor-General, who is the Queen’s representative in Grenada.
13. Grenada has been dubbed the “Isle of Spice.”
One of the most surprising facts about Grenada is that more spices are grown in the tiny country per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world, earning it the moniker “Isle of Spice.” All over the island, there are plantations as well as spice-processing plants.
Grenada is the Caribbean’s only spice producer and produces a considerable amount of nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, pepper, pimento, bay leaves, vanilla, ginger, and cloves. Nutmeg is Grenada’s most important crop and the country is the world’s second-largest producer of nutmeg after Indonesia. Oddly enough, nutmeg is also a mild hallucinogen if used in concentrated quantities.
14. The currency of Grenada is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD).
The East Caribbean dollar was introduced to the country in 1965. Prior to this, Grenada used the British West Indies dollar.
15. Grenada doesn’t observe daylight saving.
Clocks do not change in Grenada and daylight-saving has never been observed in the country.
16. The capital and largest city of Grenada is St. George’s.
With a population of just over 30,000, the capital St.George’s is the largest city in Grenada. The city is home to a slew of architectural gems from the French and British colonial periods. St. George’s is particularly renowned for its scenic horseshoe-shaped harbor.
17. The US invaded Grenada in 1983.
Probably one of the reasons why Grenada is famous is that this tiny island nation was invaded by the United States in 1983. Five years after Grenada gained independence in 1974, the Marxist-Leninist New Jewel Movement seized power in the country in 1979 under charismatic leader Maurice Bishop. He was drawn toward Cuba and other communist bloc countries, as relations with the US and some of Grenada’s more conservative Caribbean neighbors deteriorated.
Although Bishop remained popular with Grenadians, he attracted some critics. Promised elections didn’t come, freedom of the press was curtailed, and some political opponents were imprisoned. Then in 1983, when Bishop refused to share power, he was arrested and executed amid a military coup led by his Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard.
The Governor-General of Grenada, Paul Scoon, was also arrested during the coup and held under house arrest. When Bishop was executed, Scoon soon asked the US to intervene. Citing concerns over 1,000 American nationals (including 600 medical students) on the island, the four-day US invasion of Grenada, codenamed “Operation Urgent Fury”, began in the early morning hours of Tuesday, 25 October 1983.
Six other Eastern Caribbean countries were also part of the invasion. After the success of the invasion, an interim government was established and democracy returned to Grenada.
18. Grenada celebrates Thanksgiving Day on 25th October.
Grenada observes October 25 as Thanksgiving, “a special day that marks the anniversary of the US military intervention in 1983 when the American military and its allies rescued Grenadians from a communist takeover and restored constitutional government.”
19. English is the official language of Grenada.
English is the sole official language of Grenada and is used in print, in the media, in the judicial system, and in public services all over the country. However, most Grenadians speak either of two creole languages (Grenadian Creole English and, less frequently, Grenadian Creole French).
Both creole languages have African and British or French influences which produces a unique vocabulary and speech pattern. They are widely used in informal settings.
20. Afro-Grenadians are the largest ethnic group in Grenada.
About 83% of the population of Grenada identifies as black. The remainder of the population is white, South Asian, or mixed. Afro-Grenadians are descendants of the slaves brought over from Nigeria and the Gold Coast region, especially from what is today the countries of Ghana and Benin.
21. Christianity is the most popular religion in Grenada.
Well over 85% of Dominicans are Christians. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic, but there are also groups of Evangelicals, Anglicans, Methodists, Mormons, Pentecostals, Baptists, and Seventh-day Adventists.
22. Cricket is the most popular sport in Grenada.
As is the case with most Caribbean nations, cricket is the most popular sport in Grenada. It is also regarded as the country’s national sport and forms an intrinsic part of the nation’s culture.
Internationally, Grenadian cricketers play for the West Indies cricket team. Junior Murray and Devon Smith are two of the most famous cricketers from Grenada.
23. Grenada is the smallest country to win an Olympic medal.
Grenada has competed at the Summer Olympics since 1984. The nation’s two Olympic medals have both come courtesy via one athlete, sprinter Kirani James, who won gold in the men’s 400 meters in 2012 and silver in 2016.
24. The national bird of Grenada is the Grenada dove.
Endemic to Grenada, the Grenada dove is one of the most critically endangered doves in the world.
25. The national dish of Grenada is Oil Down.
Grenada’s national dish oil down is comfort food at its best, blending spices, breadfruit, coconut milk, callaloo (taro leaves), dumplings, and a salted fish or meat like codfish, smoked herring, salted beef, or pig’s tail. All the ingredients are cooked over a flame in a big pot for a few hours.
The name “oil down” itself actually comes from the fact that the coconut oil and meat juices settle down at the bottom of the pot as they simmer.
26. There are no UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Grenada.
Grenada is one of the few nations in the world not to have any designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, that may soon change in the future as there are three sites on UNESCO’s tentative list.
27. Grenada is home to the world’s first underwater sculpture park..
One of the most unique Grenada facts is that the country is home to the first underwater sculpture park in the world. Located in the Caribbean sea off the west coast of Grenada, Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park opened in 2006.
It has over 60 underwater sculptures located on the seabed around 4.50 m (15 ft) below the surface. The life-size sculptures range from whimsical figures, such as a man sitting at a desk tapping away at a typewriter, to more poetic installations.
28. Although Grenada is not part of the so-called “Hurricane Belt”, it was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
In September 2004, Grenada was badly hit by Hurricane Ivan, a Category 4 storm with 243 km/h (151 mph) winds. The hurricane wreaked total havoc on the island, damaging over 90% of homes and left the nation without electricity.
Homes, schools, churches, government buildings, shops, hotels, were all flattened, as were the banana fields, the nutmeg, cocoa, and mango trees. Hurricane Ivan killed at least 37 people and damaged a prison leading to the escape of 17 convicts. Damages from Hurricane Ivan in Grenada were estimated at 900 million USD, twice the gross domestic product.
29. The national flower of Grenada is the bougainvillea.
The lovely bougainvillea is a vine with papery flowers of purple, white, orange, or pink. Like hibiscus, it can wind around arbors and fences, giving a false notion of a balanced, rich environment.
30. Grenada has no standing military.
Grenada is one of the several countries in the world without a standing army. However, the nation is home to a police force called the Royal Grenada Police Force, which also acts as the coast guard.
31. Grenada is famous for its Carnival, also known as the “SpiceMas Festival.”
Thanks to the mixture of French and African influences in the country, carnival in Grenada is a big deal. The whole country comes alive in song and costume as Carnival takes to the streets in late July and early August.
32. Male-on-male homosexuality is illegal in Grenada.
Curiously, while male-on-male homosexuality is illegal in Grenada and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, sexual activity between two females is legal.