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Independence History


Last updated: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 3:41 PM

Independence (Feb 7th 1974)

Like so much of Grenada’s history, which has been marked by unrest such genocide of the original native inhabitants by European colonisers starting in the 15th Century, the period leading up to independence had its own troubles.

In the early 1970s, then Premier Eric Matthew Gairy announced that he intended to seek Grenada’s independence from Britain.  At the time, Mr. Gairy was facing opposition inside and outside of parliament from his political foes who bristled at his style of leadership.

The leadership of both the Grenada National Party (GNP) of Herbert Blaize and the New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Maurice Bishop had their reservations about Mr. Gairy’s independence plans.  They made those reservations known when discussions opened with Britain on the path to independence for Grenada.  Members of the GNP and NJM were part of a delegation that met British officials, and which included Mr. Gairy and representatives of his Grenada United Labour Party.

Over the objections of the opposition, and an eventual boycott of the ongoing talks with Britain by the opponents, Mr. Gairy persevered and Grenada was granted independence.

The now well-known red, green and gold flag – with stars and nutmeg – was raised on Fort George on February 7, 1974, signalling nationhood for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.  Eric Matthew Gairy was installed as our first Prime Minister, and Leo De Gale as the first Governor General.

Independence was celebrated by candlelight as employees of the local electricity company and other sectoral workers were on strike.

Mr. Gairy, a former trade unionist and primary school teacher, in his inaugural address as Prime Minister 36 years ago, thanked God for being “merciful,’’ saying that God had “triumphed.’’

The New Prime Minister also called for national unity.  “Now is the time for goodwill, now is the time for unity, now is the time for reconstruction,’’ said Mr. Gairy. “I now appeal to all Grenadians to join heads, hearts and hands in unity to repair the damage done and to build a Grenada for ourselves and for posterity.’’

 

 

Mr. Gairy, who later received a knighthood and assumed the title of “Sir Eric,’’ said that February 7, 1974, established Grenada as “fully and completely liberated, free and independent.’’

 

 

 

  • Official Name: Grenada
  • Dependencies: Carriacou & Petite Martinique
  • Area: 3 islands, 133 sq. miles total (344 km2 )
  • Population: 108,132 (UN, 2008.)
  • Capital: St. George's (est. pop. 33,734)
  • Location: 12.07° North 61.40° West
  • Highest Point: Mt. St. Catherine (833 Meters)
  • Time zone: EST+ 1; (GMT - 4:00)
  • Climate: Tropical - avg. temperature of 75ºF (24ºC)
  • International dialing code: +1473
  • Internet domain: .gd
  • Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollars (XCD)
  • Major Languages: English (Official), French patois
  • Nationality: Grenadian
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life Expectancy: 67 years (men), 70 years (women) (UN)
  • GNI per capita: US $4,670 (World Bank, 2007)
  • Current Labour Force: 40% of population
  • Literacy rate: 94%
  • Airport: Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA)
  • Type of State: Constitutional monarchy
  • Head of State: (Queen Elizabeth II) Dr. Cecile La Grenade
  • Head of Government: Dr. The Right Hon. Keith Mitchell
  • Ruling Party: New National Party (NNP)
  • Political Structure: 15 Constituencies
  • Elections: Last: February 19, 2013. Next: By 2018
  • Suffrage: Universal at 18
  • National Holiday: 7 February (1974, Independence Day)
  • Constitution: December 19, 1975

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