Grenada is known as the “Spice Island” because it has more spices per square mile than any other country in the world. Whether it’s nutmeg, ginger, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, tonka beans, or mace, Grenada has it. In fact, it has one-third of the world’s supply of nutmeg! Astonishing considering how much this ingredient is used in cooking. The spices in Grenada give this independent Caribbean country an added exotic appeal; but it’s not like it really needed this extra “umpgh” in the first place. Grenada, after all, is one of the most beautifully landscaped in the Caribbean, featuring tropical rainforests in the midlands, volcanic mountains and crater lakes full of varied flora and fauna in the uplands, and dry forests, mangroves and white sandy beaches in the coast and lowlands. Best of all, Grenada has a brilliant blue hue to its waters underlined by colorful coral reefs and aquamarine.
Grenada actually consists of three islands: Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique. In total, the country measures about 345 square miles in an oblong shape. It has five main towns, including the capital, St. George’s, which is located on the southwest coast of the island of Grenada. St. George’s is also the main port for the island and the hub of yachts and boats in the eastern Caribbean. There are also several smaller islands offshore from the main island of Granada: Bonaparte Rocks, Rose Rock, Large Island, Frigate Island, White Island, and Saline Island. These smaller islands lead into the Grenadines.
Carriacou is the largest island of the Grenadines, located south of St Vincent and the Grenadines and in the northwest reach of Grenada. Petit Martinique is a neighbor of Carriacou to the northeast just 2.5 miles offshore. It is a small volcanic cone about 485 acres. The island of Grenada is the main island of the country. It was created out of a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred more than 25 million years ago. You’ll find forested mountains running north and south through it, along with many extinct craters. Its highest peak is more than 2,750 feet atop Mount St. Catherine, which dominates the northern portion of the island on a clear day. The interior of the island is like a tropical-eden. You’ll find a maze of palms, ferns, bougainvillea, crimson anthurium, oleander, red and purple hibiscus, and banana and breadfruit groves.
Grenada is not glitzy and is not known as a resort destination. It does not have any casinos or much man-made attractions. Rather, it is known more as an ecotourism destination. People who come enjoy the numerous nature trails that traverse through the country’s lush jungle-like features, much of which is part of the Grant Etang National Park. They also enjoy the islands’ hidden coves and white sandy beaches, highlighted by the popular Grand Anse Beach where thousands of visitors come each year to sail, fish, snorkel, and sunbathe. Many other beaches and water-sports hubs also dominate the southwest region of the island of Grenada, where you’ll find popular tourist spots like Lance Aux Epines and Point Salines.
Grenada was first settled by the Arawaks, who were displaced eventually by the Caribs. The British attempted to establish a trading post at Megrin in 1609, but were forced out by the Caribs. The French tried also in 1638, but failed. In 1650, the French acquired Grenada from the Caribs and set up a settlement on the main island. After the Caribs realized that they had been cheated, they attacked the French settlers but didn’t fare well against the now-fortified Grenada. The Caribs also tried attacking Fort George in 1651 but were again rebuffed and this time massacred. The surviving Caribs fled; their culture remains today only in their pottery, rock paintings, and burial sites.
In 1762, the British captured Grenada with little resistance and ceded to Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years’ War. The British turned the island into a series of sugar cane plantations and imported a large number of slaves to work them. During the American Revolutionary War, the French invaded Grenada and captured it by surprise. It remained French until it was returned to Britain as part of the 1783 Treaty of Versailles that ended the Revolutionary War. In 1834, slavery was abolished. The slaves were replaced by indentured laborers from India. Many of the plantations, however, were closed in the 1830s and 40s, unable to compete with the Spanish plantations that used slave labor. In 1843, the island began growing nutmegs, a spice from Indonesia. Grenada switched its economy seamlessly to the agricultural export of nutmeg, bananas, and cocoa.
In 1974, Grenada was granted independence from the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the 1980s saw an internal power struggle that was triggered by a military coup. The ordeal ended when an American and Caribbean-led force took the island by storm and arrested the coup leaders. Today, Grenada is heavily dependent on tourism. Hotels and resorts dot this country, which attracts visitors through its ecotourism. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 caused enormous damage to the hotels and infrastructure of Grenada. The country has worked hard to repair the damage and has largely recovered.
The island has roads that run along the entire coast and traverse into the remote interiors as well. Most of the roads are paved and well maintained, although the ones in the countryside should be driven on with care. The roads up the mountains can get quite narrow and steep. And landslides are common after heavy rains. The best way to get around the island is by taxi, which there are plenty of.
“Grenada Travel Guide – Overview.” < http://www.worldtravelguide.net/country/104/country_guide/Caribbean/Grenada.html>
“History of Grenada.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Grenada>
“Introduction to Grenada.” < http://www.frommers.com/destinations/grenada/2372010001.html>
Philpott, Don. Visitor’s Guide to the Windward Islands. Ashbourne: Moorland Publishing Company Ltd., 1996. ISBN: 0861905598.
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