Saint Vincent island is mountainous, rising to 4,048 ft (1,234 m) at Soufrière volcano, which erupted in 1902 and 1979, causing considerable damage to the island. The people are mainly descendants of Africans who were brought as slaves during the colonial period; there are also people of European, Asian Indian, and Carib descent. English is the predominant language, and a French patois is also spoken. The main religions are Anglicanism, Methodism, and Roman Catholicism.
The climate is well-suited to agriculture, which is an important part of Saint Vincent's economy. Bananas, taro, and arrowroot are the chief agricultural exports. There is light industry and offshore banking. Tourism is also economically important. The main trading partners are the United States and France.
The country, a parliamentary democracy, is governed under the constitution of 1979. The unicameral legislature, the House of Assembly, has of 15 elected and 6 appointed members; the members all serve five-year terms. The government is headed by the prime minister. The monarch of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by a governor-general, is the head of state. Administratively, the country is divided into six parishes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.