|Anthem: "God Save the Queen"
|Capital||Plymouth (de jure) 1
Brades (de facto)
|Ethnic groups||West African, Mulatto, British, Irish|
|Government||British Overseas Territory|
|-||Governor||Peter Andrew Waterworth|
|-||Chief Minister||Reuben Meade|
|British overseas territory|
|-||British control established||1632|
|-||Total||102 km2 (219th)
39 sq mi
|-||July 2006 estimate||4,655 (216th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2002 estimate|
|-||Total||$99 million (not ranked)|
|-||Per capita||$3,400 (not ranked)|
|HDI||n (unranked) (n/a)|
|Currency||East Caribbean dollar (
|1||Abandoned in 1997 following a volcanic eruption. Government buildings are currently located in Brades, making it the de facto capital.|
|2||An estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned.|
Montserrat (pronounced /mɒntsəˈræt/) is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. It measures approximately 16 km (10 miles) long and 11 km (7 miles) wide, giving 40 kilometres (25 mi) of coastline. Christopher Columbus gave Montserrat its name on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, after Montserrat mountain located in Catalonia, Spain. Montserrat is nicknamed the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, both for its resemblance to coastal Ireland and for the Irish descent of its inhabitants.
Its Georgian era capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and two-thirds of the island's population were forced to flee abroad by an eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano that began on July 18, 1995. The eruption continues today on a much reduced scale, the damage being confined to the areas around Plymouth including its docking facilities and the former W.H. Bramble Airport. An exclusion zone extending from the south coast of the island north to parts of the Belham Valley has been imposed because of an increase in the size of the existing volcanic dome.
Visitors are no longer permitted entry into Plymouth. The village of Brades currently serves as the temporary centre of government while construction proceeds on a new town at Little Bay in the north of the island, out of reach of further volcanic activity.
Montserrat was populated by Arawak and Carib people when it was claimed by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage for Spain in 1493, naming the island Santa María de Montserrate, after the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrat. The island fell under English control in 1632 when a group of Irish suffering anti-Catholic violence in Nevis, many of whom had been forcibly removed from Ireland as indentured servants, settled there. The import of African slaves, common to most Caribbean islands, began early. An economy based on sugar, rum, arrowroot and Sea Island cotton was established. By the late 1700s there were many plantations on the island.
In 1782, during the American Revolutionary War, Montserrat was briefly captured by France. It was returned to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Paris which ended that conflict. A failed slave uprising on 17 March 1798 led to Montserrat becoming one of only two places in the world that celebrates St Patrick's Day as a public holiday, the other being Ireland. Slavery was abolished in Montserrat in 1834.
Falling sugar prices during the nineteenth century had an adverse effect on the island's economy and in 1869 the British philanthropist Joseph Sturge formed the Montserrat Company to buy sugar estates that were no longer economically viable. The company planted limes starting production of the lime juice, set up a school, and sold parcels of land to the inhabitants of the island, with the result that much of Montserrat came to be owned by smallholders.
From 1871 to 1958 Montserrat was administered as part of the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands, becoming a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. In 1979, Beatles producer George Martin’s AIR Studios Montserrat opened and the island attracted world-famous musicians who came to record in the peace and quiet and lush tropical surroundings of Montserrat.
The last decade of the 20th century, however, brought two events which devastated the island. On September 17, 1989, the Category 5 Hurricane Hugo struck Montserrat with sustained winds of 160 miles per hour, damaging over 90 percent of the structures on the island. AIR Studios closed, and the tourist trade upon which the island depended was nearly wiped out. Within a few years, however, the island had recovered considerably—only to be struck again by disaster.
In July 1995, Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano, dormant throughout recorded history, rumbled to life and began an eruption which eventually buried the island's capital, Plymouth, in more than 12 metres (39 ft) of mud, destroyed its airport and docking facilities, and rendered the southern half of the island uninhabitable. Following the destruction of Plymouth, more than half of the population left the island due to the economic disruption and lack of housing. After a period of regular eruptive events during the late 1990s, including one on June 25, 1997 in which 19 people died when they were overtaken by a pyroclastic flow, the volcano's activity in recent years has been confined mostly to infrequent ventings of ash into the uninhabited areas in the south. However, this ash venting does occasionally extend into the populated areas of the northern and western parts of the island. The southern part of the island has been evacuated and visits are severely restricted.
In 2010 Soufriere Hills volcano erupted again. On 18 January 2010 pyroclastic flows reached the sea through Aymers Ghaut. On 5 February 2010, a vulcanian explosion sent pyroclastic flows down several sides of the mountain, and on 11 February 2010, a partial collapse of the lava dome sent large ash clouds over sections of several nearby islands including Guadeloupe and Antigua. Inhabited areas of Montserrat itself received very little ash accumulation through either event. 
Today most of Montserrat remains lush and green. A new airport at Geralds in the north (renamed the John A. Osborne International Airport in 2008) was opened officially by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal in February 2005, and received its first commercial flights on 11 July 2005. Docking facilities are in place at Little Bay, where the new capital is being constructed.
The people of Montserrat were granted full residency rights in the United Kingdom in 1998, and citizenship was granted in 2002.
Montserrat is divided into three parishes:
Only Saint Peter Parish is inhabited, having a population of between 4,000 and 6,000. Saint Peter Parish covers the north-west of the island, and was therefore least affected by the eruptions of Soufrière Hills, the island's volcano.
The island of Montserrat is located approximately 480 km (300 miles) east-southeast of Puerto Rico and 48 km (30 miles) southwest of Antigua. It comprises only 104 km² (40 square miles) and is increasing gradually owing to volcanic deposits on the southeast coast of the island; it is 16 km (10 miles) long and 11 km (7 miles) wide, with dramatic rock faced cliffs rising 15 to 30 m (50–100 feet) above the sea and smooth bottomed sandy beaches scattered among coves on the west side of the island. Montserrat has been a quiet haven of extraordinary scenic beauty.
Montserrat has two islets: Little Redonda and Virgin, and Statue Rock.
From 1979 to 1989 Montserrat was home to a branch of George Martin's AIR Studios which made the island popular with working musicians who often went there to record while taking advantage of the island's wonderful climate and lushly beautiful surroundings.
Since the twin devastations of Hurricane Hugo and the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano, the Montserratian economy has been effectively halted. Export businesses currently based in Montserrat deal primarily in the selling and shipping of aggregate for construction. Imports include virtually everything available for sale on the island.
The island's operating budget is largely supplied by the British Government and administered through DFID (the Department for International Development) amounting to approximately £25 million per year. Additional amounts are secured through income and property taxes, license and other fees as well as customs duties levied on imported goods.
Population: 5,879 (2008 estimate)
Note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island (primarily to the UK) following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; few have returned. Pre-eruption population was 13,000 in 1994.
Population growth rate: 6.9% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 17.57 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate: 7.34 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate: 195.35 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Life expectancy at birth:
Total fertility rate: 1.8 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate: NA%
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
Ethnic groups: black, white—mainly of mixed Irish and African descent
Religions: Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist, other Christian denominations
Cricket is a popular sport in Montserrat. Players from Montserrat are in fact eligible to play for the West Indies cricket team. Jim Allen was the first to play for West Indies and he represented the World Series Cricket West Indians. No other player from Montserrat had gone on to represent West Indies until Lionel Baker made his One Day International debut against Pakistan in November 2008.
Montserrat has its own FIFA Affiliated Football Team, and has twice competed in the World Cup qualifiers. A field for the team was built near the airport by FIFA. The Montserrat team are currently tied for 199th place in the FIFA world rankings with eight other teams, including American Samoa and Guam. In 2002, the team competed in a friendly with the second-lowest-ranked team in FIFA at that time, Bhutan, in The Other Final- the same day as the final of the 2002 World Cup. Bhutan won 4-0.
Currently, American and British elementary and middle school students are eligible to participate in an Operation Montserrat live simulation. This is a videoconference program based on events of 1996 in which a hurricane approaches and a volcanic eruption occur nearly at the same time. The students are responsible for rescuing all of the people. In the weeks leading up to this, they practice the skills they need in their classroom.
|Capital||Brades (de facto)|
|Government||overseas territory of the United Kingdom|
|Currency||East Caribbean dollar (XCD)|
|Area||102 sq km|
|Population||4,600(July 2006 est.)|
|Religion||Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist, other Christian denominations|
|Electricity||230V/60Hz (North American plug)|
|Calling Code||+1 664|
|Time Zone||UTC -4|
Once a popular get-away destination (especially after Beatles producer George Martin opened a studio here), Montserrat has been hit hard by the four elements, both from without and from within. First the wind and waves of hurricane Hugo swept through in 1989, damaging 90% of the island's structures. Then the earth and fire welled up in 1995, with the volcano of Soufriere Hills forcing the long-term evacuation of 2/3 of the island's population, and catastrophically closing the airports and seaports in June 1997. The capital of Plymouth was covered by 40 feet of ash, and much of the south end of the island is now uninhabitable.
Government offices have since been set up in Brades on the northwest shore of the island, out of harm's way. Much of the island's population has returned, with estimates ranging from 4,700 to 9,500, compared to the pre-Hugo/Soufriere high of over 12,000.
Temperatures year-around average between 76-88°F (24-32°C), with constant cooling breezes. Rainfall is a little more common from July to November.
Montserrat is small, but getting larger. The erupting volcano is gradually extending the southern end of the island.
Proof of citizenship is required. United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and CARICOM citizens may present a driver's license or other government photo ID; all others require passports. Visitors from Cuba require visas, obtainable from British Consulate offices. All visitors must have tickets for departure, proof of accommodations, and funds to cover their expenses while on Montserrat.
Several tour operators in Antigua offer day excursions to Montserrat, including observation of the Soufriere Hills volcano. Charter helicopters from Antigua offer another way to view the volcano.
Winair flies into Monserrat's Gerald's Airport (IATA: MNI, ICAO: TRPG) offering several daily scheduled flights from Antigua. . Flights can be booked on their website at www.fly-winair.com or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charter services can also be booked by the Montserrat-based Fly Montserrat (www.flymontserrat.com).
If you have any problems with booking a flight to Montserrat please contact the Montserrat Tourist Board by phone at (664) 491 2230/8730 or by e-mail at email@example.com
The primary transportation harbor is Little Bay, near the de facto capital of Brades.
Montserrat has one main road that winds along the coast on the east and west sides of the island. Cars can be rented from any of a number of agencies. Traffic is mild (there are no traffic lights to bother with), but be warned that there are only two gas/petrol stations on the island.
Bicycle rentals are also available.
Taxis and minibuses run mostly during the day.
The people of Montserrat all speak English (British dialect), albeit with a local accent.
The volcano! An observation area on Jack Boy Hill on the eastern side gives a view of the ash flows covering the old airport. Huge boulders may sometimes be seen, crashing down the slope in a cloud of dust. The Monserrat Volcano Observatory on the south-west side has an observation deck. Tours into the exclusion zone may be possible, depending on the volcano risk level; you will pass through a landscape of abandoned homes and fields, see the volcano close-up, and gaze down at the old capital of Plymouth, now buried in ash and mud.
Montserrat is blessed with natural beauty. On land there are lush tropical forests with trails of varying difficulty. Many can be enjoyed on your own, however, some require a guide to make the path clear. Stop by the National Trust our Tourist Information for a map (charge of $10 EC currently).
One of the special things about Montserrat are the quiet beaches. You most often have them to yourself but check out each one, they are all different.
For those who love the sea, the island is surrounded by reefs. Snorkeling and scuba diving can be enjoyed from shore or by boat. Check with "Scuba Montserrat" in Little Bay for lessons, trips, and equipment 
Scuba diving is also available at nearby Redonda, an uninhabited island 15 miles to the west of Montserrat. There you will find six-foot barrel sponges, Eagle Rays, Stingrays, and the occasional nurse shark. For diving trips to Redonda or dive sites closer to Montserrat's shores, contact the Green Monkey Dive Shop in Little Bay. They also offer Boat Tours to view the destruction left behind in Plymouth by the volcanic eruptions as well as Kayak Tours and Rental, Deep Sea Fishing Excursions, Dive Lessons, and Equipment Sales and Rental.
For other boat tours or land excursions,stop by the Tourist Board to get the numbers for one of the local guides.
Visitors should also check out the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO)for information on the Soufriere Hills Volcano. The MVO Visitors Centre is open to the public Monday through Thursdays and includes a documentary describing the history and impact of the eruption (shown at quarter past the hour every hour between 10:15 - 3:15), informative poster displays, interactive kiosks, and a display of artifacts. There is also a fabulous view of the volcano.
Unfortunately, there's no breakwater at Little Bay yet (where the scuba and tour boats leave from), so if there's a northerly wind, scuba and boat tours may be canceled for a day or two until the weather changes, and the boats can get out. Be prepared to go hiking, sightseeing, or just relaxing by the pool or at the beach instead while waiting for the seas to calm enough for the boats to be able to leave Little Bay.
There are currently two ATMs on the island, one at the Royal Bank of Canada, and one at the Bank of Montserrat.
John Ponteens Sunday BBQ Little Bay. DD Bar Friday night in Hope by the MVO. Chicken Wilsons in Salem. Roti for lunch at the Attic. Gourmet Gardens in Olveston. Olveston House (Sir George Martin's private residence) is open seven days a week. Tina's, La Colage and Emerald Rose for great local lunches. Upscale Ziggys Restaurant for dinner only by reservation.
Gary Moores Wide awake Bar, Salem. Falming El Paso, St Peter Green Monkey Bar Little Bay Dessert Storm, Salem Misers in Salem. Jaxxons St John
Visiting the island is a bargain compared to pre-eruption Montserrat and many of its less geologically active neighbors, as the island is anxious to reestablish its tourism industry. The tourism board has private villas for as little as US$700/week.
The island is still vulnerable to hurricanes during the season from June to November.
Volcanic eruptions still pose some danger, though volcanic activity has been primarily on the level of a nuisance in recent years. Travel to the Exclusion Zone on the south end of the island is generally not permitted, for safety reasons. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory publishes current risk assessments and exclusion zone limits. 
Montserrat is generally a safe place, however in recent years, violent crime has increased. Assault is the most common form, with an annual rate of just over 10 assaults for every 1000 people. (By comparison, Canada's rate is about 7 per 1000). General safety precautions, including such as not walking in an alleyway at night, are advised.
No vaccinations are required to enter Montserrat unless coming from a country that has suffered a cholera, yellow fever, or small pox epidemic.
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There is more than one meaning of Montserrat discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia. We are planning to let all links go to the correct meaning directly, but for now you will have to search it out from the list below by yourself. If you want to change the link that led you here yourself, it would be appreciated.
Named after the hill in Catalonia.