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  Introduction Back To Top

English and Irish colonists from St. Kitts first settled on Montserrat in 1632; the first African slaves arrived three decades later. The British and French fought for possession of the island for most of the 18th century, but it finally was confirmed as a British possession in 1783. The island's sugar plantation economy was converted to small farm landholdings in the mid 19th century. Much of this island was devastated and two-thirds of the population fled abroad because of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano that began on 18 July 1995. Montserrat has endured volcanic activity since, with the last eruption occurring in July 2003.

  Geography Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

tropical; little daily or seasonal temperature variation

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

Geographic coordinates:
16 45 N, 62 12 W

Natural resources:

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: lava dome in English's Crater (in the Soufriere Hills volcanic complex) estimated at over 930 m (2006)

volcanic island, mostly mountainous, with small coastal lowland

Geography - note:
the island is entirely volcanic in origin and comprised of three major volcanic centers of differing ages

total: 102 sq km
land: 102 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Puerto Rico

40 km

Area - comparative:
about 0.6 times the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:
land erosion occurs on slopes that have been cleared for cultivation

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
severe hurricanes (June to November); volcanic eruptions (Soufriere Hills volcano has erupted continuously since 1995)

Land use:
arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 80% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.22 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.6 years
male: 74.66 years
female: 70.44 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 97% (1970 est.)

Net migration rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
black, white

Median age:
total: 28.1 years
male: 28 years
female: 28.1 years (2008 est.)

note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
3.3% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
0.315% (2008 est.)


Death rate:
8.86 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 16.46 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.19 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.93 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.8% (male 738/female 675)
15-64 years: 64.8% (male 1,575/female 1,716)
65 years and over: 7.4% (male 245/female 130) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
12.01 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist, other Christian denominations

noun: Montserratian(s)
adjective: Montserratian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (overseas territory of the UK)

National holiday:
Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (overseas territory of the UK)

Dependency status:
overseas territory of the UK

International organization participation:
Caricom, CDB, Interpol (subbureau), OECS, UPU, WFTU

Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Council (11 seats, 9 popularly elected; members serve five-year terms)
note: expanded in 2001 from 7 to 9 elected members with attorney general and financial secretary sitting as ex-officio members
elections: last held 31 May 2006 (next to be held by 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - MCAP 36.1%, NPLM 29.4%, MDP 24.4%, independents 10.1%; seats by party - MCAP 4, NPLM 3, MDP 1, independents 1
note: in 2001, the Elections Commission instituted a single constituency/voter-at-large system whereby all eligible voters cast ballots for all nine seats of the Legislative Council

Legal system:
English common law and statutory law

Flag description:
blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Montserratian coat of arms centered in the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms features a woman standing beside a yellow harp with her arm around a black cross

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Montserrat

Political parties and leaders:
Montserrat Democratic Party or MDP [Lowell LEWIS]; Movement for Change and Prosperity or MCAP [Roselyn CASSELL-SEALY]; New People's Liberation Movement or NPLM [John A. OSBORNE]

name: Plymouth
geographic coordinates: 16 42 N, 62 13 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Plymouth was abandoned in 1997 because of volcanic activity; interim government buildings have been built at Brades Estate in the Carr's Bay/Little Bay vicinity at the northwest end of Montserrat

effective 19 December 1989

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Peter A. WATERWORTH (since 27 July 2007)
head of government: Chief Minister Lowell LEWIS (since 2 June 2006)
cabinet: Executive Council consists of the governor, the chief minister, three other ministers, the attorney general, and the finance secretary
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party usually becomes chief minister

Administrative divisions:
3 parishes; Saint Anthony, Saint Georges, Saint Peter

Judicial branch:
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based in Saint Lucia, one judge of the Supreme Court is a resident of the islands and presides over the High Court)

  Economy Back To Top

Electricity - consumption:
20.46 million kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
6.5% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Debt - external:
$8.9 million (1997)

Unemployment rate:
6% (1998 est.)

Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$3,400 (2002 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$5.537 million (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$29 million (2002 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

Exchange rates:
East Caribbean dollars (XCD) per US dollar - 2.7 (2007), 2.7 (2006), 2.7 (2005), 2.7 (2004), 2.7 (2003)
note: fixed rate since 1976

GDP - real growth rate:
-1% (2002 est.)

Stock of money:
$17.9 million (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
note: lowered by flight of people from volcanic activity (2000 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.6% (2002 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.2%
industry: 23.1%
services: 75.7% (1999 est.)

Oil - imports:
482.6 bbl/day (2005)

$700,000 (2001)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

Economy - overview:
Severe volcanic activity, which began in July 1995, has put a damper on this small, open economy. A catastrophic eruption in June 1997 closed the airports and seaports, causing further economic and social dislocation. Two-thirds of the 12,000 inhabitants fled the island. Some began to return in 1998, but lack of housing limited the number. The agriculture sector continued to be affected by the lack of suitable land for farming and the destruction of crops. Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcanic activity and on public sector construction activity. The UK has launched a three-year $122.8 million aid program to help reconstruct the economy. Half of the island is expected to remain uninhabitable for another decade.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and transportation equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured goods, fuels, lubricants, and related materials

tourism, rum, textiles, electronic appliances

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
10.4% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$43.9 million (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
22 million kWh (2006 est.)

$17 million (2001)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Oil - consumption:
505.5 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
electronic components, plastic bags, apparel; hot peppers, limes, live plants; cattle

Economic aid - recipient:
Country Policy Plan (2001) is a three-year program for spending $122.8 million in British budgetary assistance (2002 est.)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $31.4 million
expenditures: $31.6 million (1997 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:

Telephones - main lines in use:

3,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (1998)

7,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

Television broadcast stations:
1 (1997)

Telephone system:
general assessment: modern and fully digitalized
domestic: NA
international: country code - 1-664; landing point for the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) optic submarine cable with links to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
17 (2000)

Internet hosts:
409 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:
Little Bay, Plymouth

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)

note: volcanic eruptions that began in 1995 destroyed most of the 227 km road system; a new road infrastructure has been built in the north end of the island (2008)

2 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,528 (2008 est.)

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the UK

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,097 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
no regular military forces; Royal Montserrat Police Force (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 31
female: 39 (2008 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe

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