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Grenada

country, Grenada island, Maurice Bishop, volcanic mountains, parliamentary government

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Grenada, independent country in the West Indies consisting of the island of Grenada and several tiny islands in the southern Grenadines. The largest of the attached Grenadines is the island of Carriacou, to the northeast. The country has a total area of 344 sq km (133 sq mi), making it the second smallest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Only Saint Kitts and Nevis is smaller. Grenada island itself has an area of 311 sq km (120 sq mi).

Grenada and its dependent islands in the southeastern Caribbean Sea are the southernmost of the Windward Islands. The capital, largest town, and principal port is Saint George's, located on the southwestern coast of Grenada. In the center of the island lie volcanic mountains covered with dense rain forest. All the islands have a tropical climate, with a rainy season from June to December. Spices, such as nutmeg and cloves, thrive on the island and give Grenada its nickname “the spice island of the Caribbean.”

Grenada was once divided into large plantations owned by British colonists and worked by African slaves. The slaves’ descendants, who form the bulk of the present population, live mostly on small farms and raise food crops, such as yams, sweet potatoes, and cassava. Nutmeg, bananas, and cacao are grown for export. Grenada’s growing tourist trade is the largest source of income.

Grenada has a parliamentary government. In 1979 a leftist government took power in a coup d’etat. In 1983 the country’s leader, Maurice Bishop, was killed by hardliners within his own political party. United States forces invaded Grenada a week later, with troops from seven other Caribbean countries. Parliamentary government was restored the next year.

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