Capital: Plymouth (abandoned in 1997 due to volcanic activity; interim government buildings have been built at Brades Estate, in the Carr’s Bay/Little Bay vicinity at the northwest end of Montserrat)
Population:5,164 (July 2012 – CIAest.) note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned.
Surface Area: 102 sq km
Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $8,500 (2006 – CIA est.)
English and Irish colonists from St. Kitts first settled on Montserrat in 1632; the first African slaves arrived three decades later. The British and French fought for possession of the island for most of the 18th century, but it finally was confirmed as a British possession in 1783. The island’s sugar plantation economy was converted to small farm landholdings in the mid 19th century. Much of this island was devastated and two-thirds of the population fled abroad because of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano that began on 18 July 1995. Montserrat has endured volcanic activity since, with the last eruption occurring in July 2003.
Economy – Overview:
Severe volcanic activity, which began in July 1995, has put a damper on this small, open economy. A catastrophic eruption in June 1997 closed the airports and seaports, causing further economic and social dislocation. Two-thirds of the 12,000 inhabitants fled the island. Some began to return in 1998, but lack of housing limited the number. The agriculture sector continued to be affected by the lack of suitable land for farming and the destruction of crops. Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcanic activity and on public sector construction activity. The UK has launched a three-year $122.8 million aid program to help reconstruct the economy. Half of the island is expected to remain uninhabitable for another decade.
Major Export Commodities: electronic components, plastic bags, apparel, hot peppers, limes, live plants, cattle
Remittances: Not available
Human Development Index 2011 ranking: Not ranked
Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Us $26 million. Major development partners: U.K. E.U. Institutions, Canada, CarDB, UNDP (OECD 2010)
Total External Debt: Not available
Life Expectancy At Birth: 73.41 years (CIA)
CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov
World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org
Human Development Report 2011. United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org
Updated July 2012