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Grenada is an island nation in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. It includes the southern Grenadines, and is located north of Trinidad and Tobago, and south of Saint Vincent.

Due to the aggressive resistance mounted by the indigenous Carib (Kalinago) population Grenada remained uncolonized by European nations until 1650 when it was claimed by the French. (see also Saint Vincent and Dominica)

While most of the indigenous Kalinago population retreated to the other islands in 1651, the last 30 Carib warriors in Grenada leapt to their death off Sauteurs cliff, rather than surrender to the French. Conflict with indigenous Kalinago in the Caribbean region did not end until 1796, when they were finally overwhelmed by the British in St Vincent.

Throughout the 18th century shiploads of Africans were brought to Grenada and forced to provide labour on the colonial sugar plantations. After the abolition of slavery, plantation owners turned to indentured or contract emigrant labourers from colonial India to fill the gap. Over the years their descendants for the most part became blended into the national socio-cultural mainstream.

Grenada was made a Crown Colony in 1877. Independence was granted in 1974 under the leadership of the first Prime Minister, Sir Eric Gairy, making it the second-smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere (after St Kitts and Nevis).

In March 1979 dissatisfaction with Gairy’s government prompted a coup d’état led by Maurice Bishop, a popular left-wing leader of the New Jewel Movement. Bishop’s socialist policies and cooperation with communist Cuba caused concern to some of the country’s Caribbean neighbours and especially to the United States. After a putsch within the ruling People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) resulted in the death of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, Grenada was invaded by the USA in October 1983, and the islands were ruled by an advisory council until new elections could be held in December 1984.

Main languages: English, French-based patois

Main religions: Christianity (Roman Catholic)

The majority of the population of Grenada is of African descent (82 per cent, US Dept of State). Some members of the population (3%, CIA: 2000) are also descended from East Indian indentured labourers. There is a small Muslim population mostly originating from Gujarati Indian immigrants and there is also a small community of Rastafarians.

No significant indigenous Kalinago (Carib) and Taino (Arawak) populations survived the colonial era.

Following the upheavals of the early 1980s Grenada’s political processes have been regular and uneventful.

As a member of the Commonwealth, Grenada’s head of state is the British monarch, represented by a governor-general. Actual executive power lies with the prime minister, who is usually the leader of the majority group in parliament.

Minority based and advocacy organisations

Inter Agency Group of Development Organisations c/o Agency for Rural Transformation (ART)
Tel: + 1 473 440 3440

Sources and further reading

Breton, Raymond] – Observations on the Island Carib: A Compilation of Ethnographic Notes. Based on Breton’s Dictionnaire Caraibe-Francois. Selected, Organized and Translated by Marshall McKusick and Pierre Verin. (St Georges: Callinago P) 48 pages pamph, 1978.

Brizan, George I. Grenada, island of conflict: from Amerindians to people’s revolution, 1498–1979. London: Zed Books; Totowa, N.J.: US distributor, Biblio Distribution Center, 1984.

Connell-Smith, Gordon. The Grenada invasion in historical perspective: from Monroe to Reagan. (TWF/TWQ [Third World Quarterly. Third World Foundation, New Zealand House. London.], 6:2, April 1984.

Cox, Edward L. The free coloureds and slave emancipation in the British West Indies: the case of St Kitts and Grenada. 1988.

Drewett, Peter L – Prehistoric Settlements in the Caribbean. (St Michael: Archetype Publications) 2000.

Dunn, Peter M, and Bruce W WATSON, ed – American Intervention in Grenada: The Implications of Operation ‘Urgent Fury.’ (Boulder, CO: Westview P, Special Studies in Military Affairs) , 1985

Dunn, Richard Slator – Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of a Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624–1713. (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P) 2000.

Ferguson, James. Grenada: revolution in reverse. London: Latin America Bureau, Research and Action; New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990.

Henriques, Fernando and Joseph Manyoni. Ethnic group relations in Barbados and Grenada. (in Race and class in postcolonial society: a study of ethnic group relations in the English-speaking Caribbean, Bolivia, Chile and Mexico. Paris: UNESCO, 1977)

Kossek, Brigitte. Racist and patriarchal aspects of plantation slavery in Grenada: ‘white ladies’, ‘black women slaves’ and ‘rebels’. (Slavery in the Americas. Edited by Wolfgang Binder. Würzburg, Germany: Königshausen and Neumann, 1993

Look Lai, Walton Sugar plantations and indentured labour: migrations from China and India to the British West Indies, 1838–1918 PhD Dissertation, New York University, 1991

Mahabir, Noorkumar. East Indians in Grenada: a study in absorption. ( Indians in the Caribbean. Edited by I.J. Bahadur Singh. New Delhi, India: Sterling Publishers Private Limited, 1987

Mintz, Sidney Wilfred Sweetness and power : the place of sugar in modern history New York, N.Y. : Viking, 1985

O’Shaughnessy, Hugh. Grenada: revolution, invasion, and aftermath. London: H. Hamilton with the Observer, 1984.

Pollak-Eltz, Angelca. The Yoruba religion and its decline in the Americas. – Description of Candomble, Batuque, Shango cult of Recife, the Yoruba-Bantu Macumba of Rio, the Caboclo , and Umbanda cult; Shango cults in Trinidad and Grenada, Shouting Baptists in Grenada, Santería in Cuba, and Vodoun in Haiti- (in International Congress of Americanists, XXXVIII) Stuttgart-Munchen, FRG, 1968.

Walker, Annette. The New Jewel: revolution in Grenada. (NACLA, 14:1, Jan./Feb. 1980