Carriacou and Petite Martinique

Carriacou and Petite Martinique

Carriacou Island in the Caribbean Sea, is the largest island of the Grenadines, an archipelago in the Windward Islands chain. The island is 13 sq miles (34 km²), and a dependency of Grenada with a population of 4,595 (1991 census). The main settlements on the island are Hillsborough, L'Esterre, Harvey Vale, and Windward.

The neighbouring island of Petite Martinique is 2 1/2 miles away from Carriacou, and also a part of Grenada. With its 586 acres (2.4 km²), population 900, it is smaller than Carriacou. The residents of this island live by boat-building, fishing and seafaring.

The Grenadine islands to the north of Carriacou and Petite Martinique belong to the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.


Carriacou is the largest of the Grenadines and is characterized by hilly terrain sloping to white sand beaches.

The island has several natural harbors and many coral reefs and small offshore islets. []

The highest point on the island is High Point North at 955 feet. []

Carriacou has no rivers. Residents rely on rainfall for their water. The dry season is between January and June when the Trade Winds dominate the climate.


The earliest settlers, the Amerindians, called Carriacou "Kayryouacou"," meaning "the land of reefs."

Carriacou was settled by the French, but in 1763 was ceded with Grenada to the British when they captured neighbouring Grenada. The majority of the inhabitants today are of African descent. There still is a British influence on the island as it was colonised by the British Empire and it is part of Grenada, a Commonwealth state. There is still a French influence which is demonstrated in village names, such as L'Esterre, La Resource, Beausejour, et cetera, and the local patois is still spoken.

The inhabitants of Carriacou perform the "Big Drum" or "Nation" dance which celebrates their West African ancestors that were brought to the island during slavery. These Big Drum dances are usually performed at "Maroons" village festivals or fetes, where food and drink are prepared. They can also be danced at wakes and tombstone feasts in honor of dead relatives.

There still is a traditional boat-building culture located in the village of Windward, on the northeastern side of the island, where Carriacou's people of Scottish and Irish ancestry are concentrated.

Carriacouans have migrated to the United Kingdom, and especially to the county town of Bedford. It is said that if you live in Carriacou you will have a family member in Bedford, and if you live in Bedford you will surely know someone from Carriacou. Other English locations where Kayaks congregate are Huddersfield and South London (Lewisham) where the rector of St Stephens is the Archbishop of Canterbury's visitor to the Windward Island diocese. The USA, particularly New York City, is home to a significant number of Carriacouans. Many Carriacouans do return for holidays or to retire "back home".


Recent history

Though Hurricane Ivan in 2004 dealt a devastating blow to the island of Grenada, remarkably, Carriacou and Petite Martinique suffered significantly less damage. However, in 2005, Hurricane Emily hit Carriacou, damaging and forcing evacuation of its only hospital and destroying or damaging hundreds of homes.


There are three major cultural festivals held on Carriacou. Carnival (see external link below) is held in February or early March. The Carriacou Regatta, held on the first weekend in August, is a racing event for locally built boats. In 2005, the Regatta celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Parang on the weekend prior to Christmas celebrates the island's traditional Christmas music and culture. Village Maroons all year round and Since the turn of the millennium, a new festival of growing popularity has been started the Carriacou Maroon Festival held during the second quarter of the year.


The people of Carriacou travel mainly by privately run 15 seater buses. Rental cars and taxis are also available and boats are commonplace. There is a small airport (Lauriston) on the island and a small ferry boat known as the "Osprey" that runs between Carriacou, Grenada and Petite Martinique. The short distances between the Grenadines enables travel between them by small boats.

In Literature

Carriacou plays a central role in Paule Marshall's novel "Praisesong for the Widow."The memory of Carriacou (from which her parents emigrated to New York) figures prominently in Audre Lorde's autobiographical work .


*KYAK106 - Carriacou's Home Grown Radio Station. []
*The Harbor Light of the Windwards is a local Christian radio station. []

External links

* [ Carriacou Regatta Festival]
* [ view of Petit Martinique from Belair]

See also

*St Vincent and the Grenadines
*Rough Science

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