Our History, Our Culture

 

 

 

All about the Island of Grenada

 

 

Grenada Flag:

 

 

PRONUNCIATION: Gre-NAY-dee-uns

 

 

 

FAMOUS GRENADIAN CELEBRITIES: Kirani James, Lewis Hamilton

 

 

CURRENCY

 

Grenada uses the Eastern Caribbean dollar. The East Caribbean Dollar is the currency of East Caribbean. The currency code for Dollars is XCD, and the currency symbol is $. Commonly written as ECD or EC$.

 

It has existed since 1965, being the successor to the British West Indies dollar, and it is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $ or, alternatively, EC$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. The EC$ is subdivided into 100 cents. It has been pegged to the United States dollar since July 7, 1976, and the exchange rate is US$1 = EC$2.70.

 

 

Where is Grenada Located?

 

Grenada is the most southerly of the Windward Islands in the caribbean and is known for the beauty of its lush and fertile soil. Its nickname is "the Isle of Spice" because of the nutmeg (one third of the world's supply), cloves, mace, and other spices grown there. In addition to its main island, the country has two dependencies—Petit Martinique and Carriacou—and a number of smaller islets. Grenada is one of the smallest independent nations in the Western Hemisphere. The three main islands have a total area of 133 square miles, a little less than twice the size of Washington, D.C.

 

The main island is green and hilly and has a mountain range that divides it in half. The interior also contains rain forests, waterfalls, crater lakes, and many rivers and streams. The coastal land has swamps, woodlands, and fertile plains.

 

Grenada's total population is estimated to be 100,000 people with about 90,000 living on the main island. The population is predominantly rural. About one-third live in urban areas. About 85 percent of Grenada's population is of African descent, while 11 percent have mixed black and white ancestry. The rest of the population is divided between Asians (mostly East Indians) and whites.

 

 

 

HISTORY

 

Grenada was first sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1498, although he never landed there. The Caribs who inhabited the island drove off all settlers, both English and French, for more than one hundred and fifty years. In 1650 a French party succeeded in acquiring the island from the Caribs in exchange for knives, trinkets, and brandy. Having gained a foothold, they systematically killed most of the native population. Forty of the last Caribs on the island leaped to their death in a mass suicide rather thaan surrender at La Morne des Sauteurs, or "Leapers' Hill." Grenada became a British possession under the Treaty of Versailles in 1783. Independence was granted by Great Britain in 1974.

 

In 1979 the country's leader was overthrown. The new prime minister, Maurice Bishop, formed a Marxist government that established close ties with Cuba and other communist countries. In October 1983, a faction of the revolutionary government ousted Bishop, who was killed along with several of his associates. A week later, U.S. troops, together with forces from other Caribbean nations, subdued the military council that had seized power, imprisoning its leaders and removing the Cuban military presence from the island.

 

Since the 1983 invasion, Grenada has moved closer politically to the United States, which provided the nation with disaster relief and long-term economic aid and technical assistance. The international airport at Point Salines, begun under the Bishop government, was completed with U.S. aid, and much of the country's infrastructure was repaired and modernized.

LANGUAGE

English is the official language of Grenada, but many Grenadians speak patois, a dialect that combines English words with elements of French and African languages.  To learn more about  Grenada dialect  and other customs order this guide.

RELIGION

 

About 65 percent of Grenadians are Roman Catholic. Most of the rest belong to Protestant denominations which include Anglican, Methodist, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Baptist. Most of Grenada's small Indian population is Hindu. Shango, a traditional African religion, is still practiced, generally in combination with Christian beliefs. African religious practices are especially prominent on the small island of Carriacou. The mingling of Christian and African traditions can be seen in the island's boat-christening ceremonies, which combine holy water, sacrificial goats, and African-derived Big Drum music.

 

MAJOR HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Grenada's public holidays are New Year's Day (January 1), Independence Day (February 7), Good Friday and Easter Monday (March or April), Labor Day (May 1), Whit Monday (May or June), Corpus Christi (June), the August holidays on the first Monday and Tuesday of August, Carnival (mid-August), Thanksgiving (October 25), and Christmas (December 25 and 26).

 

The country's most important festival is Carnival. In Grenada, this celebration is held in August instead of the usual pre-Lenten time to avoid conflicting with the Grenadian Independence Day. Carnival begins with a Sunday night celebration leading into the Jouvert (jour ouvert– opening day ) festivities at dawn on Monday, which feature Djab Djab Molassi, who represent devils ( Djab Djab (jab jab) is derived from diable, the French word for "devil"). These merrymakers streak their faces and bodies with grease or molasses, which they delight in smearing on bystanders.

 

Another traditional festival is Fisherman's Birthday, celebrated on the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul at the end of June. It involves a ritual blessing of nets and boats, boat races, and food and dancing.

 

Another unique  cultural experienc is the Carriacou Maroon and Music Festival. The Maroon ritual is all about giving thanks and prayers to mother earth, the source of all life, production and prosperity. Its African spiritual origins are captured through the drumming, singing, eating of ‘smoke food’ .

 

Three days, three venues captured in one glorious festival.

 

LIVING IN GRENADA

Most Grenadians own land on which they can grow crops to feed their families. Whatever is left is sold at markets. Housing ranges from simple chattel houses to luxury villas for those who can afford them. (See http://www.buildgrenada.com) Average life expectancy in Grenada is seventy years.

 

FAMILY LIFE

 

Many Grenadians live in extended-family households, which may include up to three generations. Grandparents commonly help raise children, although day-care facilities are available for working mothers. Older family members, when not actually part of the household, usually live only a short distance from their children. The elderly rely on their children to look after them.

 

It used to be common for a family to have as many as ten children. With more widespread use of birth control and more women working outside the home, the average number of children in a family dropped to four or five in the 1980s, and the country actually had a negative population growth rate between 1985 and 1992. Part of this negative growth rate was due to emigration.

 

 

FOOD

 

The cuisine of Grenada reflects a variety of influences: Amerindian, African, French, British, and East Indian. Foods commonly found at the market include yams, avocados, callaloo greens (similar to spinach), oranges, papayas (called "paw-paws"), plantains, mangoes, and coconuts. Many fruits are available year-round.

 

About twenty different kinds of fish are caught off the coasts. Both fish and chicken dishes are served at many meals. Popular Grenadian staples include green bananas, pigeon peas and rice, and "callaloo," a dish made from callaloo greens, okra, salted pork, crab, and fresh fish. The dish most closely identified with Grenada is "oildown," a mixture of salted pork and breadfruit steamed in coconut milk.

 

Popular beverages include locally brewed beer; rum punch spiced with lime juice, syrup, and grated nutmeg; "mauby," a soft drink made from the bark of the mauby tree; and cocoa tea made from cocoa beans and spices steeped in hot milk.

 

EDUCATION

 

The adult literacy rate in Grenada is more than 90 percent and some of Grenada's schools are known as having the  highest standards of education in the caribbean. All children are required to attend school for twelve years. The average primary school has one teacher for every twenty-eight pupils, about the same as other developing nations. Higher education is offered at the T. A. Marryshow Community College. Recently, St. George's University offers medical scholarships home and abroad.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Grenadian authors first came to public attention in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the nation's best-known contemporary writers is Wilfred Redhead, author of one-act plays and short stories. The visual arts reflect a high degree of African influence, and Grenada's artists are mostly self-taught. Canute Caliste, who lives on Carriacou, is one of the most prominent. His paintings show traditional life on the island, including Carnival bands, boat-launchings, dance festivals, and Big Drum performances. Many of his works include handprinted texts.

 

Another well-known artist is Elinus Cato, whose brightly painted renderings of town and rural life in Grenada have been exhibited in London and Washington, D.C. One of his paintings, People at Work, was presented to Queen Elizabeth II when she toured Grenada in 1985. The wooden frame for Cato's painting was crafted by renowned Grenadian woodcarver Stanley Coutain, one of the country's leading sculptors. Other recognized masters who transform the island's mahogany, teak, and cedar into works of art include Alexander Alexis.

 

Calypso and steel drum music are both popular forms of entertainment in Grenada.

The native music of Grenada is Big Drum music. Derived from the African call-and-response tradition, it consists of song, dance, and drumming. Although its roots are similar to those of calypso and reggae, it is more authenticly African. The Big Drum is actually a set of three drums, originally carved from trees and later made of rum kegs. The skin of male goats is used for the two side drums and the skin of a female goat for the middle one. The middle drum, which has pins threaded across its surface, produces the most complicated rhythms. The singers are usually women, and the lead singer is called a "chantwell." The lyrics are usually satirical, making fun of governing figures or social customs. Dancing is performed inside a ring of people by dancers wearing full skirts and headdresses and who interact with the musicians. Big Drum music is performed on Carriacou at religious ceremonies including weddings and funerals.

 

Woven handicrafts include hats, purses, baskets, placemats, and other items made from straw, bamboo, and wicker. Salad bowls, kitchen utensils, furniture, and other items are made of mahogany and red cedar. Jewelry is made from black coral and turtle shells.

 

EMPLOYMENT

Between 40 percent of Grenadians are employed as civil servants by the government or work in a service industry job. About the same percentage work in agricultural jobs, often in the food processing industry. Typical food processing jobs include peeling nutmegs and sorting the seeds, and washing bananas and other produce.

 

The remainder of jobs in Grenada are mostly in construction,  manufacturing. The country has a standard eight-hour work day. Grenada had a high rate of unemployment in the 1990s, with about one-fourth of the workforce unemployed.

SPORTS

Grenada's most popular sport, played at Grenada National Stadium, Queens Park, outside the capital city of St. George's. Grenadians will start a game on any available flat area, even at the beach. Football has now overtaken cricket as the most popular sport. Athletics has grown in popularity after wins in Olympics by Kirani James and Alleyne Francique.

 

Kirani James (born 1 September 1992) is a Grenadian sprinter who specializes in the 200 and 400 metres. He won the 400 m at the World Championships in 2011 and is the reigning Olympic champion, winning the 400 metres at London 201 He was Grenada's first Olympic medalist in any sport

 

Prodigious from a young age, he ran the fastest 400 m times ever by a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old. He won a series of gold medals at the CARIFTA Games and the Commonwealth Youth Games and rose on the international stage with 400 m silver medals at the 2007 World Youth and 2008 World Junior Championships. James became the first athlete to run a 200/400 double at the 2009 World Youth Championships and was the 2010 World Junior Champion.

 

James received an athletic scholarship at the University of Alabama and won back-to-back NCAA Outdoor Championship titles in his first two years. He is the third fastest of all-time indoors (44.80 seconds) and ran a personal best of 43.74 at a 2014 Diamond League event in Lausanne. James is one of only nine athletes  to win world championships at the youth, junior, and senior level of an athletic event. (Excerpt from wiki.)

 

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