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Monday, January 12, 2009

Montserrat

Montserrat is a quiet, laid-back island where you can hike, birdwatch, snorkel, or enjoy a couple of drinks over a game of dominoes.The tiny Caribbean island was dealt a devastating blow when the Soufrière Hills volcano erupted massively in 1995 and again in 1997. Almost half the island was rendered uninhabitable, including the capital, Plymouth, which today stands half-submerged in volcanic ash and mud. The effects were not limited to physical destruction. Montserrat's economy was severely damaged, and around two-thirds of the 12,000 population left the island.The volcano remains active and much of the island is still out of bounds, but this in itself is a draw for tourists looking for something beyond the usual Caribbean experience of beaches and luxury resorts.While Montserrat still depends on aid from the British government (the island is a British Overseas Territory), its prospects are looking brighter. A new airport opened in 2005, bringing a steady stream of visitors from Antigua and beyond

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