Humans were probably the last living organisms to appear and they arrived as long as three thousand years ago or more in the form of several different South American tribes – the Calvignoid, the Galibi, the Suazoids and finally, in around 1400, the warlike Caribs.
The Caribs were an aggressive lot and drove out many of their amerindian predecessors; it was a trait that was to stand them in good stead when the next wave of arrivals appeared – the Europeans.
The Cannons at Fort George in the capital of Grenada have borne witness to much of the island’s history over the last 250 years
The first European group to settle in Grenada were the English in 1609. They started a settlement called Megrin Town (on the ridge that overlooks La Sagesse Bay) whilst their boat sailed off with the remainder of its crew to seek its fortune down in Trinidad. The Caribs were none too happy with these new impostors and harassed the English constantly. As a result, the English climbed aboard when their ship returned from Trinidad and happily abandoned their settlement.
The French, spurred on (no doubt) by England’s dismal failure, attempted to colonise the island in 1639. The Caribs booted them out too but the French soon followed up with the considerably more determined group led by Du Parquet. They built a small settlement and a fort. A general peace existed between the Caribs and the French – the Caribs felt the French presence would deter the English from attempting to massacre the Caribs as they had done in nearby St. Kitts. A group of 100 Dutch privateers surprised everyone in 1675 when they took over the island. They themselves were even more surprised by the unexpected arrival of a French Man-o-War shortly thereafter and the French maintained control over the island until 1763 when it was ceded to the British under the Treaty of Paris. The English did exactly what they did in the other islands – Anglicised it, both religiously and culturally. The French settlers did not like this one bit and soon things were bound to come to a head.
The French re-captured the island in 1779 and proceeded to strengthen the fortifications there. They spared no time reminding the English that the shoe was well and truly on the other foot and probably pointed to their fortifications as they did so. The French however found themselves handing back Grenada to the English in 1783 under the Treaty of Versailles. 12 years later an internal rebellion led by the Frenchman Julien Fedon plunged the administration into chaos – particularly as he ended up controlling over 90% of the island. The Fedon Rebellion (as it became known) was put down the following year. The legacy of the French never disappeared, though, and can be seen in the French place names and the French Patois still spoken by many in the island.
St. George’s – historically the most scenic town in the Caribbean
The U.S. were worried about the safety of the American medical students studying on Grenada and were concerned about the regional impact of another communist regime. They decided to invade, and successfully removed the People’s Revolutionary Army from power in 1983. In 1984 Herbert Blaize was elected Prime Minister of Grenada and the island has enjoyed a politically stable environment and substantial U.S. aid too. Agriculture, light manufacturing and a well-controlled expansion of the tourism sector has created a gradually improving economy. Grenada has since celebrated 30 years of Independence.
On September 7th 2004, Force 4 Hurricane Ivan played havoc with the island’s infrastructure and its agriculture, almost destroying all of the cash crops of nutmeg, banana and cocoa. However, a mere three years later, the courage and resilience of the people of Grenada, as well as the fertile soils fueled by the irrepressible life force of Mother Nature, are bringing back a speedy recovery to the economy.