In the middle of the 17th century, the French
invaded Grenada, but only after having largely wiped out
indigenous fighting in bloody battles. A long-standing
struggle for dominion over the island followed between
the French and the British, a battle which the British
finally won in 1783. At that time, the extensive import
of African slaves into European sugar plantations meant
that the majority of the population was black.
Insurgency and social unrest characterized the island
until slavery was abolished in 1834. In 1974, Grenada
became an independent state within the Commonwealth.
Grenada was populated at the time of Columbus's
arrival in America in 1492 by caribers believed to have
come from South America and displaced other peoples who
were there before. On his third voyage in 1498, Columbus
sailed past Grenada and named the island Concepcion.
Spanish sailors preferred the name Granada, after the
Spanish city, and this was later taken over by the
French (but in its French form, La Grénade) and then by
the British (as Grenada).
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Grenada, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The Caribbean resisted the Europeans' attempt to
colonize the island for a century and a half, but in
1650 the French managed to establish a settlement in
Grenada. Bloody battles between the colonizers and the
natives broke out and most of the latter were killed.
The French, however, found it difficult to retain
control of the island and in 1762 Grenada was conquered
by the British. France regained dominion in 1779, but in
1783 the island returned under British rule. Like the
French, the British imported African slaves to their
sugar plantations and the black population was soon in
the majority. In an attempt to fight the British, the
French, led by Julien Fédon (who was of mixed French and
African descent), started a slave uprising in 1795
inspired by the French Revolution and a similar revolt
in Haiti. The insurgents, who controlled large parts of
the island, were eventually defeated by the British
fleet but Fédon was never arrested. He came to be
regarded as a hero of many grenades and also inspired
future rebel leaders in Grenada (see Modern History).
After the sugar industry was destroyed by a hurricane
and ant attack in the late 18th century, a new crop,
nutmeg, was introduced. The cultivation of nutmeg, other
spices and cocoa contributed to a radical change in
agriculture on the island.
Great social tensions continued to prevail in Grenada
until 1834, when Britain abolished slavery. In 1877,
Grenada became a British crown colony and almost a
hundred years later, in 1974, it became an independent
state within the Commonwealth.