St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a country in the Windward Islands of the West Indies. It consists of the island of St. Vincent and most of the Grenadines, to the south. St. Vincent is mountainous, with peaks rising as much as 4,000 feet (1,220 m); the Grenadines are somewhat less rugged. The country's total area is 150 square miles (388 km2). The economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is based largely on the growing and export of bananas and arrowroot. Tourism is also important. Most of the people are of African descent. English is the principal language, Kingstown is the capital and largest city.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a constitutional monarchy. The head of state is the British monarch, who appoints a governor-general to represent the Crown. The head of government is the prime minister. Legislative power is vested in the House of Assembly. The country is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
In pre-Columbian times St. Vincent and the Grenadines were inhabited by the Arawak and Carib Indians. In 1498 Columbus became the first European to reach the islands. During the 17th and 18th centuries, St. Vincent changed hands between Great Britain and France several times, until British sovereignty was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1783. In 1969 St. Vincent, with most of the Grenadines, became a self-governing state in association with Great Britain. Independence was gained in 1979. In the 1990's the country pursued the creation of a limited economic and political union with other English-speaking Windward Islands.