Scattered in the east Caribbean between St. Lucia and Grenada in the Lesser Antilles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a nation made up of 32 islands. The capital of Kingston is located on the largest island, St. Vincent, which is blanketed with tropical forests, edged by black-sand beaches, and dominated by a 4,000-foot active volcano. The Grenadine archipelago continues south from here, comprising dozens of islands and cays, of which only a handful are inhabited. Petit St. Vincent lies about halfway down the island chain, some 40 miles south of St. Vincent.
Marine life is the most obvious draw in these volcanic islands, as the reefs that fringe the shores harbor all manner of species, including angelfish, damselfish, trumpet fish, parrotfish, and sergeant majors, as well as moray eels, lobsters, and large game fish. Sea turtles can often be found, as can barracudas and rays. Yet birdlife is also quite rich, ranging from herons and glossy ibis along the shores of the islands to whistling warblers, Antillean crested hummingbirds, magnificent frigatebirds, and more. Other resident creatures in the Grenadines include iguanas, lizards, and tortoises.
The livelihoods in St. Vincent and the Grenadines now hinge on fishing, small farms, and tourism, but the past few centuries tell a different tale. Once part of the British Empire, many of these islands were involved in whaling or covered in banana and sugarcane plantations worked by slaves from Africa. As in many parts of the Caribbean, the islands’ cultural heritage resulted from a blending of African and European traditions with those of the indigenous Carib people.
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