Motto:“A people of excellence, moulded by nature, nurtured by God”
Capital City: Brades
Languages spoken: English is the official language. An English-based local dialect is also spoken
Religion: People in Montserrat belong to the following Christian churches: Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal and Seventh-Day Adventist.
Head of state: The head of state of Montserrat is Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state of the United Kingdom but is represented by Premier. Premier of Montserrat is Donaldson Romeo of the People’s Democratic Movement (Montserrat).
Currency: East Caribbean dollar
National Dish and Drink: Montserrat’s national dish is Goat water, a thick goat meat stew served with crusty bread rolls. Goat water is prepared using goat meat, breadfruit, vegetables, onion, tomato, spices and herbs, and flour. Additional ingredients may also be used, such as rum, whiskey and various tubers.
Brief history of the Island:
The Arawak and Carib were Montserrat’s first residents before Christopher Columbus discovered the island and named it after Catalonia’s Monastery of Montserrat in 1493. Many of the first European settlers were indentured Irish servants transported to the New World against their will, much like the African slaves who followed after Montserrat became an English territory in 1632.
St Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday after a failed March 17, 1768 slave uprising, but the island did not abolish slavery until 1834. When Montserrat’s economy suffered after sugar prices plummeted in the 19th century, a British philanthropist named Joseph Sturge purchased his own sugar estate in 1857 to prove that hiring paid workers was more beneficial than using slave labor. The Sturges became Montserrat’s most powerful family. They started a school, began Montserrat’s commercial lime juice industry and founded the Montserrat Company Limited. After the Sturges began selling land to the local population, most of the island was owned by shareholders.
Between 1871 and 1958, Montserrat was part of the British Leeward Islands colony, becoming part of the West Indies Federation during the following four years. After Sir George Martin opened his AIR recording studio in 1979, many of the world’s top musicians flocked to the island to record their albums in Montserrat’s private and tranquil surroundings.
Most of Montserrat’s population are descendants of people who arrived on the island against their will. These include not only the African slaves brought to the Caribbean, but also Irish indentured servants who first came to Montserrat during the 16th century. Irish influence remains strong in Montserrat, which has celebrated St Patrick’s Day as an official public holiday since 1768, the year a failed slave uprising broke out during Ireland’s national holiday.
Irish influence is also very much evident in Montserrat’s traditional music, especially the drumming and fife playing accompanying the standard Caribbean rhythms found elsewhere in the West Indies. Montserrat’s music contains several African influences such as shak-shak instruments made from calabash gourds. Cricket is Montserrat’s most popular sport and the British subjects are happy to welcome visitors to their casual and peaceful lifestyle.
Facts about the Island:
- If you are in Montserrat, you need to know that not all parts of island are accessible. The southern half of the island is included in the exclusive zone. In 1995, Soufriere Hills volcano erupted which made the half of the island in ash
- Montserrat is the only country other than Ireland to recognise Saint Patrick’s Day as a public holiday!
- There is only one television station on the island
- There is a volcanic area located in the south of the island called Chances Peak. Before 1995 it had been dormant for over 300 years. In 1995 the volcano began to give off warning signs of an eruption (small earthquakes and eruptions of dust and ash). Once Chances Peak had woken up it then remained active for five years. The most intense eruptions occurred in 1997.
Famous people from the Island
- Jim Allen former cricketer.
- Lionel Baker cricketer.
- Matthew Phipps “M.P.” Shiel author
- Maizie Williams musician
- Sean Howson footballer
Picture of the Island: