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Grenada

grn´d, independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations (2005 est. pop. 89,500), 133 sq mi (344 sq km), in the Windward Islands, West Indies. The state includes the island of Grenada (120 sq mi/311 sq km) and the southern half of the archipelago known as the Grenadines, a group of largely uninhabitable small islands and islets north of Grenada in the Windward Islands. Grenada is a volcanic, mountainous island with crater lakes. Like most Caribbean islands it is subject to hurricanes.

History

From its sighting by Christopher Columbus in 1498 until French settlement began in 1650, the indigenous Caribs prevented European colonization on Grenada. A point of dispute between England and France, the island became permanently British in 1783. The British colonists imported African slaves and established sugar plantations. In 1967, Grenada became an associated state of Britain with full internal self-government. When complete independence was achieved in Feb., 1974, Grenada became a full member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

In 1979 a successful, bloodless coup established the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) under Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. This government's Marxist leanings and favorable stance toward Cuba and the Soviet Union strained relations with the United States and other nations in the region. In Oct., 1983, after Bishop and his associates were assassinated by more hard-line radicals within his own movement, the United States, with token forces from other Caribbean nations, invaded and occupied Grenada. A general election held in Dec., 1984, reestablished democratic government, with Herbert Blaize as prime minister. In the following decade Grenada received aid from Western nations; tourism expanded, but in other respects the economy did not appear to improve. After elections in 1995, Keith Mitchell, leader of the New National Party, became prime minister. The party and Mitchell narrowly retained power in the 1999 elections. Grenada was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in Sept., 2004.