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Map Courtesy CIA World Factbook

Grenada is an island nation in the southeastern Caribbean Sea including the southern Grenadines. Grenada is the second-smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere (after Saint Kitts and Nevis). It is located north of Trinidad and Tobago, and south of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The recorded history of Grenada begins in 1498, when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island. At the time of settlement the island was occupied either by Island Caribs (Kalinago) or by their mainland cousins, the Kariña. After a failed British settlement attempt, the French purchased the island from the indigenous people in 1650, which resulted in warfare with the Caribs of Dominica and St. Vincent who feared losing their trade routes to the mainland. The island was again ceded to Britain in 1783. Grenada was made a Crown Colony in 1877.

The island was a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. Independence was granted in 1974 under the leadership of Eric Gairy. Gairy's government became increasingly authoritarian, prompting a coup d'etat in 1979 by the charismatic and popular left-wing leader Maurice Bishop. Bishop's failure to allow elections, coupled with his socialism and cooperation with Communist Cuba did not sit well with the country's neighbours including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica and the United States. A power struggle between Bishop and the rest of the ruling New Jewel Movement loyal to Bernard Coard led to Bishop's house arrest and later execution on October 19, 1983 under disputed circumstances.

Six days later, the island was invaded by forces from the United States and six other Caribbean nations in part of a military campaign called Operation Urgent Fury. Although the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon later stated that he had requested the invasion, the British Government and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago expressed anger because they were not consulted. The forces quickly captured the ringleaders and their hundreds of Cuban advisers, most of whom were laborers working on the construction of a major airport for the island which the United States completed years later. Elections were held the following year. A publicised tactical concern of the United States was the safe recovery of U.S. nationals enrolled at St. George's University.

In September 2004, the island was directly hit by Hurricane Ivan. The category 4 hurricane caused 90 percent of the homes to be damaged or destroyed.


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