Montserrat is a British territory located in the Lesser Antilles. It is not a particularly large island and measures roughly 16 km by 11 km. So does the size of this island mean it has had a more insignificant past? Let's find out with a look through Montserrat history.
Like that of many other Caribbean islands, Montserrat history begins with the Tribes of the Arawaks and Caribs. The Caribs were the more violent and took control of the island after the Arawak tribes had previously been established there.
The Island was discovered by Sir Christopher Columbus who claimed Montserrat for Spain. This was a rather short lived discovery as the British decided they had other plans and 1632 saw a group of exiled Irish people settle on the island. They worked the island for all it could return and, to this effect, they established plantations, producing rum, sugar and arrowroot.
1782 saw Montserrat history painted in French colors for a brief period until the island was signed back under British control as part of the Treaty of Paris, after the seven years war. There were, unfortunately, many slaves brought to the island to help work the plantations and return a good profit for the settlers. Slavery was abolished on the island in 1834 and the slaves' uprising ensured Saint Patrick's Day was to be celebrated with a bank holiday. One of only five countries in which this is the case.
Economic Development in Montserrat History
1869 saw a very low point in Montserrat history as far as their economy was concerned. A low price for sugar meant the plants were no longer viable and it was left to the mainland British to dig them out of their hole by buying up the failing plantations. The 19th century saw the Island join the West Indies Federation, although this group was very short lived.
In 1979, the famous Air Studios Montserrat was opened and this brought much fame to the island. It belonged to a Beatles producer and thus there was a growing interest in this location. Unfortunately, the 20th century was not entirely merry for Montserrat history as they were devastated by two events: Hurricane Hugo struck the island and measured at category 5 – the most powerful type of hurricane and the wind speed peaked at 160 miles per hour. 90% of the island was destroyed or damaged and this included the recently opened Air studios.
The next bad occurrence was the volcano; Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted in 1995 and destroyed the entire capital city of Plymouth. There has been no other recorded eruption in Montserrat history and this buried the capital in 12 meters of mud. The southern half of the island was rendered inhabitable as a result. The volcano is now just spurting out ash and no subsequent eruptions have been recorded. The airport has been rebuilt in the north of the country and the island is now returning to normal.
Montserrat history reveals a long struggle against the fury of mother nature. The island remains naturally beautiful and much of the ash has been replaced with a more lush and green appearance. The island is part of the list of British colonies and its citizens have since been granted the right to live in the UK. For such a small island, it certainly has an interesting past.