Situated in the Eastern Caribbean, Montserrat is one of the Leeward Islands. The geography of Montserrat is made up of lush green, tropical vegetation and black sandy beaches. It is home to three chief volcanic mountains with Chances Peak being the highest point at 3,002 feet (915 metres). The volcano located in the Soufriere hills erupted in July 1995 and has been continuously active ever since. It is responsible for destroying the Great Alps Waterfall, one of the most amazing sights in the West Indies.
The volcanic eruptions of Montserrat which started in 1995 and climaxed in a devastating eruption in 1997 destroyed most of the infrastructure on the southern portion of the island. The airport and seaport were destroyed and roughly 2/3 of the population was forced to escape to neighbouring islands. The capital city of Plymouth is half buried under volcanic ash and mud even today. The northern portion of the island is known as “Safe North” and it is here that some returning residents are now settling. Unfortunately, the island also lies in the Caribbean hurricane alley. Combined these natural elements have dealt a severe blow to the economy of Montserrat.
The destruction caused by volcanic eruptions and other natural elements have left Montserrat highly dependent on aid from the British government. While every effort is being made to return the economic and social life in Montserrat back, the process is slow and hindered by disagreements.
Regardless of its problems, Montserrat is endowed with great natural beauty. The tropical forests house numerous trails of varying difficulty levels. Some of the trails are easy enough to navigate on your own while others require the services of a guide to clear the paths. The still active volcano is another draw for tourists in Montserrat. Snorkelling, coral reefs, bird watching, scuba diving, kayaking and the beaches are some other activities tourists can enjoy.
Food options in Montserrat are varied offering visitors a choice from international as well as local specialities. Some of these include mountain chicken (which is actually the leg of a very large local frog species), salt fish, pumpkin soup, goat water (similar to Irish stew) and aubergine patties. While imported beers, wines and spirits are easily available the local drinks worth a try include rum punch liqueur called Montserrat Rum Punch and a large variety of local fruit drinks.
Status: Overseas territory
Government: Constitutional monarchy, Parliamentary system
Capitals: Brades, Montserrat, Plymouth
Land area: 39 sq. mi (100 sq. km)
Official language: English Language
Ethnicity: West African Mulatto, British and Irish.
Currency: East Caribbean dollar