Known as the “Land of Reefs”, Carriacou is the largest and believed to be most populated of the group of islands known as the Grenadines. It is located 12 28’N & 61 28’W and is a dependency of the State of Grenada. Carriacou is 13 sq miles and the highest point on the island is High North Peak, at a height of 956ft above sea level.
Like the island of Grenada, Carriacou was first inhabited by the Arawaks, then the Caribs from whom it got its name. The French eventually settled on the island, which was ceded to Britain in 1763. The population of approximately 6000 inhabitants, consists mainly of African descendants, some of whom can trace their ancestry back to the African tribes to which they belong.
There is still some French influence on the island, which is found in the surnames of the locals and in the names of villages such as L'Esterre, La Resource, and Beausejour. The main language is English, with some local patois derived from French and African languages. The main religions are Catholic and Anglican.
The main town and port of entry is Hillsborough, the business center with a small hospital and the main police station. Business hours are generally between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. Transportation between the islands is provided via a regular ferry service, in addition to daily flights for persons who prefer traveling by air.
Other main settlements are the villages of L'Esterre, Harvey Vale and Windward.
Carriacou is renowned for its boat building industry, especially in the village of Windward. Boat building was brought to the island by Scottish colonizers, who settled on the island during the 19th century. The traditional methods of boatbuilding are still practiced today and can be seen in the many local schooners that ply between the island of Grenada and Carriacou.
Fishing and agriculture (including livestock-rearing), form the mainstay of the island’s economy. Today, except for the lime industry which has been intermittent, only a few farmers grow small crops for their own consumption. The Island boasts of its heritage of gingerbread houses and windmill ruins.
Rich in tradition, Carriacou has many unique customs and festivals handed down from African and European ancestors. These include traditional weddings, traditional boat launching, Tombstone Feast "Saraca" Libations, Big Drum Nation Dance, Village Maroons, Shakespeare Mas, All Saints Candle Lighting "Pass Play" and Fishermen’s Birthday Celebrations.
Other major events held each year are Carriacou Carnival which is held in February or early March of each year; Carriacou Regatta, a racing event for locally built boats held on the first weekend in August and Parang Festival, a celebration of the island's traditional Christmas music and culture held prior to Christmas.
Famous personalities originating from Carriacou include, two Prime Ministers in Hon. Herbert Blaize and Sir Nicholas Brathwaite, Dr. Lamuel Stanisclaus – former Grenada Ambassador to the United Nations, Anthony C. George - the designer of the national flag and Canute Calliste - national artist.
Petite Martinique, measuring roughly one mile in diameter with a conical shape. is a small volcanic island of just 586-acres; with the highest hill, the 'Piton', rising to 756 feet above sea level. Located 3 miles east of the north end of Carriacou, the population is less than a thousand inhabitants. Like Carriacou, Petite Martinique was first settled by the French and many islanders have names of French origin.
The east coast is rocky and totally uninhabited while most people on the island reside on the calmer western leeward side. The only beach is found here as well. However, the island is still only reachable by boat. Petite Martinique is in very close proximity to the other Grenadine islands which makes it easy to visit via speedboats.
The people of Petite Martinique like Carriacou, also have a rich cultural heritage with its own regatta big drum dance and traditional wedding ceremony featuring cake dancing and flag dancing.
Fishing and boat building are the two main sources of revenue.