Overview of Island
Montserrat is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The pear-shaped island, part of the Lesser Antilles chain, is known as the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean,” in part because of its formerly large population of people who originated from Ireland and the resemblance of its cliffs and shorelines to Ireland. It is 11 miles (18km) long and 7 miles (11 km) wide, with a narrow coastal plain. Its few beaches have mainly gray or brown sand because of their volcanic origins, with one white sand beach at Rendezvous Bay in the north.
Capital: Plymouth & Brades
Prior to the island being called "Montserrat", it was called "Alliouaguana" meaning 'land of the prickly bush' coined by the Tainos c.500BCE. These Indians lived in village settlements and left their mark in the form of artifacts some of which can be found in the National Museum. In 1493 Christopher Columbus claimed the Island for Spain and in typical Columbus style renamed it "Santa Maria de Montserrat" after a monastery in Spain. It was later colonized by the British in 1632 and remains a British Overseas Territory up to today. The first settlers were mainly Irish Catholic indentured servants and many of the residents still practice some Irish traditions. They left their mark via the emblem of the Irish Shamrock and Erin (female figure with a harp and a cross) featured on the coat of arms on the Montserrat flag. During that time Africans were brought in as slaves and together they worked the sugar plantations as well as produced sea-island cotton and limes.
Montserrat is one of 14 UK Overseas Territories governed by a locally elected Premier and Parliament. The UK Government works with Montserrat’s Government to strengthen the island’s economic planning, emergency management, and security. As well, a British governor is appointed who lives on the island, and functions as an advisor on these matters. However, Montserrat still has her own passport and national song.
Move forward hundred of years from colonization, in 1995 the once dormant Soufriere Hills Volcano exploded for the first time in 400 years. Plymouth was devastated and much of it remains buried beneath thick layers of ash and mud. Between 1995 and 2000, two-thirds of the island's population was forced to flee, primarily to the United Kingdom, leaving fewer than 1,200 people on the island in 1997 (rising to nearly 5,000 by 2016). More than half of the population has since migrated to North America and the UK.
Montserrat's residents today are a milieu of immigrants nicknamed 'Stratians' (since the eruptions) who came from Dominica, Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and the DR all of which make for an interesting blend of cultures and languages that promote a certain warmth to the increasing number of tourists visiting since the opening of their new airport into their relocated capital called New Town.
Today the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) monitors all the volcanos' activities and chronicles the history of the volcano and life in Montserrat before and after the subsequent eruptions. Access to the volcano site and surroundings, The Buried City is not allowed except 'with a certified guide, under strict monitoring and constant radio contact with the MVO'. For more information click https://mountainaglow.com/
Things to do
Where to stay
Here is a place where you can just kick back and savour the total peace and quiet that help to make Montserrat one of the most special and unique places on the planet.