Grenada was originally inhabited by Arawak Indians, but
they were killed or displaced by warrior Caribbean Indians.
English merchants tried to found a colony in 1609, but the
Indians forced them away from the island.
In 1650, the French governor of Martinique, who had
bought Grenada, founded a settler estate in Saint George's.
The Empire came under the French crown in 1674 and was
French colony until 1762. British colony 1762–79 and
1783–1958. Member of the West Indian Federation 1958–62.
From 1967 associated state within the British Commonwealth.
Grenada gained full independence in 1974, and Eric Gairy
of the Grenada United Labor Party (GULP) became
prime minister. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Grenada. Gairy had been notorious for corruption and
violent politics for 30 years, and collaborated with, among
others, Pinochet in Chile. The opposition was the Black
Power- inspired New Jewel Movement (NJM) led by
young lawyer Maurice Bishop, as well as the New National
Party (NNP), led by Herbert Blaize. NJM developed to be
very influential as the dissatisfaction with Gairy grew and
NNP proved to be a weak party.
The New Jewel Movement was organized as a
vanguard where contact with the population went through mass
organizations. In 1978, NJM established a central committee
on Leninist party structure. Similar movements were found in
many of the Caribbean islands, but nowhere did they gain the
popularity of Grenada.
In March 1979, while Gairy was visiting the United
States, NJM seized power and proclaimed revolution. As the
new prime minister, Bishop introduced a number of reforms in
agriculture, fisheries, payroll systems and trade unions. At
the same time, emphasis was placed on combating corruption
and illiteracy. The revolution aroused anxiety about several
of the other small islands in the Caribbean that were afraid
that Bishop would strengthen the radical opposition there.
Concerns increased in the United States as Grenada
established cooperation with Cuba, the Soviet Union and the
GDR and joined the Organization of Alliance Free Nations.
The elections were waiting, and Cuba prepared Grenada to be
prepared for invasion. Cuban assistance to the partially EC-
funded construction of a new airport at Point Salines raised
further concerns in the US, which severed diplomatic
relations, did its utmost to sabotage the economy and put
pressure on Western Europe to liquidate development aid to
The problems were noticeable and dissatisfaction was
growing in 1983, and Bishop himself was in conflict with the
radical faction of NJM. In September 1983 Deputy Prime
Minister Bernard Coard took over as leader of the party.
Coard placed Bishop under house arrest with the help of his
army, which he controlled with General Hudson Austin. On
October 19, Bishop was released by several thousand
followers and taken to the Army headquarters, Fort Rupert.
The army attacked the fort and many civilians perished.
Bishop and some other ministers were executed in the
General Austin proclaimed a revolutionary military
council, but the army's actions in the following days spread
fear over the island kingdom, and neither Cuba nor the
Soviet Union would support the coup makers. In this
situation, President Reagan decided to send 6,000 American
soldiers to Grenada, officially to evacuate American medical
students. The invasion was legitimized with the support of
the six member states in
The Organization of the Eastern Caribbean (OECS), and a
provisional government was immediately established by
Governor Paul Scoon, who in arrears issued a request for US
military action. The invasion forces barely met any
resistance, but still suffered relatively large losses.
Internationally, the action was strongly condemned.
Grenada's population was largely relieved to get rid of
Coard and Austin. They were convicted in 1987 for the murder
A provisional government was set up under the leadership
of Nicholas Braithwaite and elections were promised the
following year. Herbert Blaize (NNP) won the election in
1984 where the remnants of the New Jewel Movement also
participated. Grenada became the center of American
interests in the Caribbean, and what was achieved with four
years of revolution was quickly transformed into the old.
The United States funded the completion of the disputed
airport in an effort to make Grenada a tourist destination
for Americans. US companies were encouraged to invest and
otherwise significant financial support was provided by the
Economic and political development
Despite the financial support, unemployment increased; it
was over 30% at the beginning of the 1990s. A decade later,
unemployment had dropped to 10%, but close to one-third of
the population still lived below the poverty line. Grenada
was at that time among the Caribbean countries with the
fastest growth in the economy, with the tourism industry and
oil extraction as important contributors; Banana production
is another focus area.
But the vulnerability also emerged when Hurricane "Ivan"
in 2004 caused the worst natural disaster in man's memory;
Nine out of ten buildings on the main island of Grenada were
destroyed. The tourism development was considered in advance
to approach the tolerance limit for the natural environment.
The financial support from the United States and the United
Kingdom has gradually fallen sharply. Grenada has been
listed on an international blacklist for lack of efforts
against money laundering and other financial crime, but
after targeted work was deleted from the list in 2002.
After the 1990 election, the coalition took over the
National Democratic Congress with Nicholas Braithwaite
as prime minister. However, the NNP regained power in the
1995 election, and in the 1999 election, the party gained
62.4% of the vote and all 15 seats in the National Assembly.
The party won one more trick victory in the 2003 election,
with eight seats. Keith Claudius Mitchell from NNP was prime
minister from 1995 to 2008, re-elected in 2013. With
stability and national community as the foremost objective,
Claudius is the longest-serving prime minister in the
history of Grenada.
At the beginning of the new millennium, a truth
commission was established following the South African
model, with the intention of healing the wounds after the
revolutionary period of the 1970s and 1980s.