From its sighting by Christopher Columbus in 1498 until French settlement began in 1650, the indigenous Caribs prevented European colonization on Grenada. A point of dispute between England and France, the island became permanently British in 1783. The British colonists imported African slaves and established sugar plantations. In 1967, Grenada became an associated state of Britain with full internal self-government. When complete independence was achieved in Feb., 1974, Grenada became a full member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
In 1979 a successful, bloodless coup established the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) under Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. This government's Marxist leanings and favorable stance toward Cuba and the Soviet Union strained relations with the United States and other nations in the region. In Oct., 1983, after Bishop and his associates were assassinated by more hard-line radicals within his own movement, the United States, with token forces from other Caribbean nations, invaded and occupied Grenada. A general election held in Dec., 1984, reestablished democratic government, with Herbert Blaize as prime minister. In the following decade Grenada received aid from Western nations; tourism expanded, but in other respects the economy did not appear to improve. After elections in 1995, Keith Mitchell, leader of the New National party (NNP), became prime minister. The party and Mitchell narrowly retained power in the 1999 elections. Grenada was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in Sept., 2004. In the parliamentary elections of 2008, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) defeated the NNP, and NDC leader Tillman Thomas became prime minister.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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