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Grenada From The Beginning

Published: Nov 3rd 2018

Grenada has a rich, if not tumultuous history; from it's first known inhabitants, the Arawak Amerindians some 2,000 years ago, through colonization, later self-rule and independence, military coups, American invasion, and finally political and economic stabilization. Each period of history is intriguing in its own right, making Grenada a diverse and intricate island of culture, history, and art.

Tribes and Tribulations

The Arawaks originated from the Amerindians of South America and were known to be a peaceful people, with their own unique culture, religion, and language; the most widespread ever to exist in pre-Colombian America. They were eventually conquered, and possibly assimilated, into the Kalinago; a fierce, war-like tribe of similar origins. Not much is left of the Arawak, although evidence of their existence can still be found hidden in the mountains of Grenada, where petroglyphs carved into boulders provide a window to the past (Grenada is one of only two islands with such). The oldest of which is thought to have been carved as early as AD 500.

European colonization began in the mid 1500's, with the French taking the initial foothold in 1650 and decimating the Kalinago population, who were now known as Caribs. The last Carib warriors held out until 1651, when they relented to the French's superior weaponry with a final act of rebellion; throwing themselves from the northern cliffs of Grenada, rather than be captured. The site of this tragic end is now known as Carib's Leap, and is accessible through the town of Sauteurs.

After Grenada's indigenous population was vanquished by disease and war, the island ultimately fell to the British in 1783. Evidence of French rule is still very prominent in the island's place names: L'Ance Aux Epines (pronounced Lance-o-Peen), Grand Anse, Grand Etang, Point Salines, and the list goes on. The British left a legacy of their own; stone fortresses adorn the tops of the hills surrounding the capital, and their monarch still graces the currency (the Eastern Caribbean dollar, known as EC). The most accessible fort is Fort George, in the middle of the island's capital, St. George's.