St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a small nation formed by an archipelago in the Lesser Antilles chain of islands in the Caribbean, north of Venezuela and the island of Grenada. It consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines extending south. Its territory includes just 389 square kilometers and the country has 102,918 inhabitants. Its capital and most populated city is Kingstown, located on the island of Saint Vincent.
Christopher Columbus named the main island Saint Vincent, as he landed there on this saint’s feast day, January22, in the year 1498. The name of the Grenadines refers to the Spanish city of Granada, but the diminutive was used to differentiate these small islands from the main island of the same name. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the indigenous peoples who inhabited the island of St. Vincent called it Youloumain, after Youlouca, the spirit of the rainbow that they believed inhabited the island.
The Caribbean nation gained independence from Britain on October 27, 1979. It is a parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy and is part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and is represented on the island by a Governor General, a position with mostly ceremonial functions. Control of the government rests with the Prime Minister and his or her cabinet.