Grenada — History and Culture
As one of the island nations in the Caribbean Sea, Grenada is known for its inherent beauty and easy way of life. With a tropical climate and laid-back lifestyle, Grenada and its inhabitants enjoy their existence, industrially contributing the nation’s exportable riches, earning it the nickname the “Spice Isle.”
Grenada is known most for its recent political history. Invaded in 1983 by a joint Caribbean-US military task force, the raid was ordered after human rights violations following a military coup assisted by Cuba. The event was the culmination of an unstable political period that lasted for four years after the initial democratic government had been overthrown immediately after gaining independence.
As a result of the invasion, democracy was restored to Grenada in the 1984 elections, and the nation continues to grow on the world stage, both as a political entity and a popular tourist destination. Prior to independence, Grenada had been a British colony since 1763. It was their colonialists who introduced nutmeg to the isles, still Grenada’s major export.
The British captured Grenada from the French who had colonized the islands in the 1700’s. To this day the country has names in French, and you can hear French-sounding words in the local dialect, although the country remained in British hands for 101 years.
Christopher Columbus first sighted Grenada in 1498, at which time it was inhabited by the native Caribs. Initially called Concepcion, the country was most likely renamed Grenada (as a misnomer for the Spanish word “Granada”) by French invaders who warded off the natives. A plantation colony based on slave labor thrived in 1649 and was not abolished until 1834, by which time Grenada had been fully developed as a lucrative spice island.
With a burgeoning population and the end of an era of empire, Grenada fully gained independence in 1974, although the transition was met with some resistance until the 1984 election. The Grenada National Museum (Corner of Young and Monckton Streets, St George’s) offers insight into the country’s rich heritage. Housed in an old fort built by the French in 1704, it displays many cultural artifacts telling the story of Grenada, from its first inhabitants to the present day.
Holding such an intriguing mix of history, Grenada has a rich culture like no other nation in the Caribbean. Take in a show at Spice Basket (Beaulieu, St George’s), which has regular events that showcase Grenada’s art, music and theatre. You can also visit the in-house museum which displays exhibits reflecting Grenada’s modern society, such as its dedicated cricket center (the national sport).
Staples of Grenada’s culture are soca and calypso music, and all the locals love to let loose and get their dancing shoes on. The local music is celebrated in many of the annual carnivals and on the jam-packed festival calendar.