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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Geography, climate and population
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a multi-island state in the Windward Islands at the lower end of the chain of islands in the Caribbean. It is part of the Lesser Antilles, about 34 km southwest of Saint Lucia and 160 km west of Barbados. The islands are located at 13°15’N and 61°15’W. This archipelago of over 30 islands, islets and cays has a combined land area of 390 km2. Mainland Saint Vincent, accounting for 89 percent of the total area, is about 29 km long and 18 km wide. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an independent republic within the Commonwealth and gained in 1979 its independence from the United Kingdom.
The country is divided into six parishes: Charlotte, Grenadines, Saint Andrew, Saint David, Saint George and Saint Patrick. The capital is Kingstown.
In 2012, the total physical cultivated area was estimated at 8 000 ha, of which 62.5 percent (5 000 ha) consisted of temporary crops and 37.5 percent (3 000 ha) of permanent crops (Table 1).
Saint Vincent, which is volcanic in origin, has a rugged and mountainous terrain with most of the slopes being greater than 5 percent. The highest point on the island is La Soufriere, an active volcano with a height of 1 234 m at the beginning of a central mountain range that divides the island (Simmons & Associates Inc., 2000). The volcanic ash has produced a fertile soil that has given rise to lush green vegetation. The Grenadines are primarily formed from coral (PAHO, 2002).
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines lie in the path of the northeast trade winds and has a tropical climate. Rainfall and temperature vary with altitude. Mean temperature is around 27°C, dropping by only a few degrees in the cooler months of December to February (UNDP, 2012). The islands have a recorded average annual precipitation of over 1 580 mm, which occurs year round but is higher from July to September. Average annual rainfall ranges from 1 500 mm on the coast to 3 800 mm in the central mountains. There is a wet season from June to December and a dry season from January to May (Joyette, 2007). Monthly averages vary from 220 mm from July to September to 50 mm from February to April.
“El Niño” episodes bring warmer and drier than average conditions between June and August and “La Niña” episodes bring colder and wetter conditions during this period. Hurricanes occasionally hit the islands, which occur throughout August, September and October (UNDP, 2012).
In 2013, the total population was about 109 000 inhabitants, of which 99.8 percent reside on the mainland. All islands of the Grenadines are inhabited with the exception of the Tobago Cays (Simmons & Associates Inc., 2000). Around 50 percent of total population is rural (Table 1). Population density is 279 inhabitants/km2. The average annual population growth rate in the 2003-2013 period has been estimated at 0.05 percent.
In 2012, 95 percent of the total population had access to improved water sources (95 percent in urban and rural areas as well). In 2007, 76 percent of the total population had access to improved sanitation (76 percent in urban and rural areas as well).