Located in the Caribbean Sea, Montserrat, also known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean because of its similarity to the coasts of Ireland, is a former dependency of the United Kingdom. In 1997, its capital city, Plymouth was completely destroyed by the violent eruption of its volcano, the Soufriere Hills volcano. The population found itself forced to move; two thirds immigrated to Great Britain while the others moved to the north of the island. In spite of this chaos, the island is still very prized among the Caribbean islands. Thanks to its numerous assets, like its luxuriant vegetation, desert beaches, exceptional ocean beds and its popular volcano, Montserrat is considered a beauty.
Basic Fact Sheet
Discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, the island was under the rule of the English, more particularly the Irish, as from 1632. From 1632 to 1667, the Captain Anthony Brisket and his entourage followed one another to power. They brought in slaves from Africa to work in the plantations. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 and the fall in prices of sugar, the economy of the island suffered an adverse effect. Later on, the island was governed as part of the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands from 1871 to 1958. Then it became a province of the West Indies Federation till 1962. On the 18th of July 1995, its capital city, Plymouth, was destroyed by a violent eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano which rendered the southern half of the island uninhabitable. Half of the population was compelled to immigrate to the north of the island.
CULTURE & HISTORY
“Montserrat Tourist Board”
The cultural legacy of the island was already influenced by its first pioneers, the Irish. This legacy is seen through the names of the towns, villages, family names and by the emblematic Irish clover found on the passport. The traditional local dish, “Goat Water” is typically Irish. Added to this, the celebration of St Patrick’s Day is a national event. The British culture is also very present: The Beatles producer, George Martin has a house and studio in Plymouth where known British stars record their music. Cricket is also the national sport of the island.
As for tourism, Montserrat offers approximately the same activities distinctive to the Caribbean: sea diving, boat trip, hiking and nature sighting. The active Soufriere Hills volcano is the main attraction of the island as one can closely observe it in safety. The luxurious forest of Centre Hills shelters several bird species: the Oriole, the Feet Yellow Thrush, the Cuckoo Cassava, etc. Little Bay and Carr’s Bay are the most popular diving spots of the island. There, one can discover in its seabed, multicoloured fish, coral reefs and an exotic marine life.
GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE
The island is found 480km to the east of Puerto Rico, 50 km south-east of Antigua and 70km to the north-west of Guadeloupe. Following the volcanic eruption of 1995, the island has gained 2km on the surface area of the sea. Montserrat is surrounded by two islets: Little Redonda and Virgin.
The island has a tropical climate with an average temperature ranging between 24˚C to 32˚C. Annual precipitations of 125 to 200 cm are recorded throughout the year. The rainy season is from July to November and the best time to visit Montserrat is from December to April.
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