Monday, January 12, 2009
St Vincent, like all the Windward Islands, is a staggering vista of contrasts where lush mountain peaks sit alongside striking volcanic black-sand beaches. The Grenadines are equally stunning, with secluded coves, spectacular coral reefs, rainforest hiking and superb sailing conditions being among the main tourist attractions.By the time St Vincent was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1498, the island had been occupied by Carib Indians from South America for nearly 200 years. The island remained a Spanish possession until 1627, when it was granted to the British Lord Carlisle. However, the Caribs fought furiously to keep possession of it. In 1783, the Treaty of Versailles restored St Vincent to Britain, after the French had temporarily taken it. Carib resistance was finally crushed in 1795, after which the settlement of St Vincent proceeded on more conventional lines. During the late 19th and 20th centuries, St Vincent endured a series of natural disasters: in 1812, the first recorded eruption of the La Soufrière volcano, during which many lives were lost; in 1896, floods; two years later, a hurricane; and in 1902, the second eruption of La Soufrière, killing 2,000 inhabitants.