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Economy of Montserrat

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 volcano 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. GDP: purchasing power parity - $29 million (2002 est.) GDP - real growth rate: -1% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $3,400 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 5.4% industry: 13.6% services: 81% (1996 est.)
Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.6% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
4,521 ; note - lowered by flight of people from volcanic activity (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture NA, industry NA, services NA
Unemployment rate:
6% (1998 est.) Budget: revenues: $31.4 million expenditures: $31.6 million, including capital expenditures of $8.4 million (1997 est.)
Agriculture - products:
cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, livestock products Industries: tourism, rum, textiles, electronic appliances
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
2.5 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
2.325 million kWh (2001) Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2001) Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
400 bbl/day (2001 est.) Oil - exports: NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
$700,000 (2001)
Exports - commodities:
electronic components, plastic bags, apparel, hot peppers, live plants, cattle
Exports - partners:
US, Antigua and Barbuda Imports: $17 million (2001) Imports - commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured goods, fuels, lubricants, and related materials
Imports - partners:
US, UK, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, Canada Debt - external: $8.9 million (1997)
Economic aid - recipient:
Country Policy Plan (2001) is a three-year program for spending $122.8 million in British budgetary assistance (2002 est.) Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD) Currency code: XCD Exchange rates: East Caribbean dollars per US dollar - 2.7000 (fixed rate since 1976)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March

Geography of Montserrat

Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Puerto Rico Map references: Central America and the Caribbean Area: total area: 100 sq km land area: 100 sq km comparative area: about 0.6 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km Coastline: 40 km Maritime claims: exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm territorial sea: 3 nm
International disputes:
none Climate: tropical; little daily or seasonal temperature variation Terrain: volcanic islands, mostly mountainous, with small coastal lowland Natural resources: negligible Land use: arable land: 20% permanent crops: 0% meadows and pastures: 10% forest and woodland: 40% other: 30% Irrigated land: NA sq km Environment: current issues: land erosion occurs on slopes that have been cleared for cultivation natural hazards: severe hurricanes (June to November); volcanic eruptions (there are seven active volcanoes on the island) international agreements: NA

Government of Montserrat

Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Montserrat Dependency status: overseas territory of the UK Government type: NA Capital: Plymouth (abandoned in 1997 due to 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) Administrative divisions: 3 parishes; Saint Anthony, Saint Georges, Saint Peter
none (overseas territory of the UK) National holiday: Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)
present constitution came into force 19 December 1989 Legal system: English common law and statutory law Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor Deborah Barnes JONES (since 10 May 2004) head of government: Chief Minister John OSBORNE (since 5 April 2001) 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 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 April 2001 (next to be held by November 2006) election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NPLM 7, NPP 2 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 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) Political parties and leaders: National Progressive Party or NPP [Reuben T. MEADE]; New People's Liberation Movement or NPLM [John A. OSBORNE] Political pressure groups and leaders: NA International organization participation: Caricom, CDB, ICFTU, Interpol (subbureau), OECS Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of the UK) Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
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

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History of Montserrat

Arawak and Carib Indians were the first residents of Alliouagana, ‘land of the prickly bush’, until Christopher Columbus claimed it for Spain in 1493, whereupon he named the island Santa Maria de Montserrat. It was not until 1632 that the British colonised the island, which is still a British Overseas Territory. The actual settlers were mainly of Irish Catholic origin, who appreciated the presence of an ocean between them and Oliver Cromwell. Irish surnames among the present population reflect this history. Between 1871 and 1956 the island was administered as part of the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands. At this point the federation was dissolved; since then Montserrat has been a British colony administered by a Governor appointed by the British government. (see Government section). The island’s internal politics during the last four decades have been dominated by the struggle between a small number of key individuals around whom political parties have been organised. The dominant figure has been John Osborne, whose People’s Liberation Movement was the largest single party on the Legislative Council between 1978 and 1991. Osborne himself served as Chief Minister throughout this period. In September 1991, Osborne’s great rival, Reuben Meade, leader of the other main party on the island, the National Progressive Party, took over as Chief Minister following the election held that month. The NPP remained in power throughout the 1990s, but at the most recent poll, held in April 2001, the ‘New’ People’s Liberation Movement was returned to office – with Osborne still at its head – with a substantial majority on the Legislative Council. For the most part, the major political issue since 1960 has been independence. While a significant minority has backed this option, it has failed to attract most people owing to uncertainty about the island’s economic future. Its vulnerability to the elements is one reason: Montserrat is located in the Caribbean hurricane zone. However, the damage caused by hurricanes, notably Hugo in 1989, was nothing compared to that wrought by the eruption of a previously dormant volcano, Soufrière, in August 1997. This rendered almost half the island uninhabitable, and much of the 12,000 population left the island. The reconstruction process has been a gradual one. Many original inhabitants have returned to the island, but the legacy of the eruption has been to leave Montserrat more dependent than ever on aid and support from the British government. The southern part of the island, which bore the brunt of the eruption, has been partially repopulated, but the overriding priority for the Osborne government is to bring economic and social life back to the devastated island.

People of Montserrat

Population: 9,245 note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned (July 2004 est.) Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.3% (male 1,092; female 1,062) 15-64 years: 65.5% (male 2,889; female 3,162) 65 years and over: 11.2% (male 543; female 497) (2004 est.) Median age: total: 28.2 years male: 28 years female: 28.4 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.03% (2004 est.) Birth rate: 17.63 births/1,000 population (2004 est.) Death rate: 7.36 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.) Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.) Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1.09 male(s)/female total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2004 est.) Infant mortality rate: total: 7.56 deaths/1,000 live births male: 8.8 deaths/1,000 live births female: 6.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.53 years male: 76.39 years female: 80.78 years (2004 est.) Total fertility rate: 1.79 children born/woman (2004 est.) Nationality: noun: Montserratian(s) adjective: Montserratian Ethnic groups: black, white Religions: Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist, other Christian denominations Languages: English Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school total population: 97% male: 97% female: 97% (1970 est.)