/div>Island country, Lesser Antilles
, Caribbean Sea. Area: 133 sq mi (344 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 107,000. Capital: St. George's
. Most Grenadans are of African or mixed (primarily African-European) ancestry; many of the rest are of South Asian descent. Language: English (official). Religions: Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic; also Protestant); also Rastafarianism. Currency: East Caribbean dollar. Grenada is the most southerly of the Lesser Antilles, lying about 100 mi (160 km) north of Venezuela; its territory includes the southern Grenadines
. Volcanic in origin, it is dominated by a thickly forested mountain ridge rising to 2,757 ft (840 m) at Mount St. Catherine. The southern coast is indented with beaches and natural harbours. The tropical maritime climate supports rich vegetation. Often called the Isle of Spice, Grenada is known for its nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla as well as for cocoa. It has a developing market economy dependent on agricultural exports and tourism. The head of state is the British sovereign, represented by the governor-general; the head of government is the prime minister. The warlike Carib
Indians dominated Grenada when Christopher Columbus
sighted the island in 1498 and named it Concepción; the Caribs ruled it for the next 150 years. In the early 1670s it became subject to the French crown and remained so until 1762, when British forces captured it. In 1833 the island's black slaves were freed. Grenada was the headquarters of the government of the British Windward Islands (1885–1958) and a member of the West Indies Federation (1958–62). It became a self-governing state in association with Britain in 1967 and gained its independence in 1974. In 1979 a left-wing government took control in a bloodless coup. Relations with its U.S.-oriented Latin American neighbours became strained as Grenada leaned toward Cuba and the Soviet bloc. In order to counter this trend, the U.S. invaded the island in 1983; democratic self-government was reestablished in 1984. Grenada's relations with Cuba, once suspended, were restored in 1997.