- Caribbean Islands   




 The Caribbean Island of Montserrat

Montserrat holiday

Montserrat is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. It measures approximately 16 km (10 miles) long and 11 km (7 miles) wide, giving 40 kilometres (25 mi) of coastline. Christopher Columbus gave Montserrat its name on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, after its namesake located in Catalonia. Montserrat is often referred to as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, due both to its resemblance to coastal Ireland and to the Irish descent of most of its early European settlers.

Its Georgian era capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and two-thirds of the island's population forced to flee abroad by an eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano that began on July 18, 1995.

The eruption continues today on a much reduced scale, the damage being confined to the areas around Plymouth including its docking facilities and the former W.H. Bramble Airport. An exclusion zone extending from the south coast of the island north to parts of the Belham Valley has been closed because of an increase in the size of the existing volcanic dome. This zone includes St. George's Hill which provided visitors with a spectacular view of the volcano and the destruction it has wrought upon the capital. A new airport at Gerald's in the northern part of the island opened in 2005. The village of Brades currently serves as the de facto centre of government. 


Montserrat was populated by Arawak and Carib people when it was claimed by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage for Spain in 1493, naming the island Santa María de Montserrate, after the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrat, which is located on the Mountain of Montserrat, in Catalonia, Spain.

The island fell under English control in 1632 when a group of Irish fleeing anti-Roman Catholic sentiment in Saint Kitts and Nevis settled there. The import of slaves common to most Caribbean islands, mainly coming from Ireland (70% of the population were Irish slaves by the mid 1600's), followed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and an economy based on sugar, rum, arrowroot and Sea Island cotton was established. By the late 1700s there were many Plantations on the island

In 1782, during the American Revolutionary War, Montserrat was briefly captured by France. It was returned to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Paris which ended that conflict. A failed slave uprising on 17 March 1798 led to Montserrat later becoming one of only four places in the world that celebrates St Patrick's Day as a public or bank holiday (the others being the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador).

Montserrat culture

Slavery was abolished in Montserrat in 1834, presumably as a result of the general emancipation of slaves within the British Empire in that same year.

Falling sugar prices during the nineteenth century had an adverse effect on the island's economy and in 1869 the philanthropist Joseph Sturge of Birmingham, England formed the Montserrat Company to buy sugar estates that were no longer economically viable. The company planted limes starting production of the lime juice, set up a school, and sold parcels of land to the inhabitants of the island, with the result that much of Montserrat came to be owned by smallholders.

Long referred to as "The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean" for both its Irish heritage and its resemblance to coastal Ireland, most of Montserrat today remains lush and green. A new airport, opened officially by the Princess Royal Princess Anne in February 2005, received its first commercial flights on July 11, 2005, and docking facilities are in place at Little Bay, where a new capital is being constructed out of reach of any further volcanic activity.
The people of Montserrat were granted full residency rights in the United Kingdom in 1998, and citizenship was granted in 2002.


Cricket is a popular sport in Montserrat. Players from Montserrat are in fact eligible to play for the West Indies cricket team. Jim Allen was the first to play for West Indies and he represented the World Series Cricket West Indians. No other player from Montserrat had gone on to represent West Indies until Lionel Baker made his One Day International debut against Pakistan in November 2008.

Montserrat has its own FIFA Affiliated Football Team, and has twice competed in the World Cup qualifiers. A field for the team was built near the airport by FIFA. The Montserrat team are currently tied for 199th place in the FIFA world rankings with eight other teams, including American Samoa and Guam. In 2002, the team competed in a friendly with the second-lowest-ranked team in FIFA at that time, Bhutan, in The Other Final- the same day as the final of the 2002 World Cup. Bhutan won 4-0 

the map of MontserratGeography

The island of Montserrat is located approximately 480 km (300 miles) east-southeast of Puerto Rico and 48 km (30 miles) southwest of Antigua. It comprises only 104 km² (40 square miles) and is increasing gradually owing to volcanic deposits on the southeast coast of the island; it is 16 km (10 miles) long and 11 km (7 miles) wide, with dramatic rock faced cliffs rising 15 to 30 m (50-100 feet) above the sea and smooth bottomed sandy beaches scattered among coves on the west side of the island. Montserrat has been a quiet haven of extraordinary scenic beauty.

Montserrat has two islets: Little Redonda and Virgin, and Statue Rock.

The Soufrière Hills or Montserrat volcano is an active complex stratovolcano with many lava domes forming its summit on the island. After a long period of dormancy it became active in 1995, and eruptions have continued up to the present. The last eruption was in December 2008. 

Montserrat Flag and Coat of Arm

Montserrat flagIt is a Blue Ensign with the Union Flag in the canton and the Coat of arms of Montserrat in the fly.
Symbolism of arms
The arms feature Erin, the female personifcation of Ireland, and the golden harp, another symbol of Ireland. This reflects the colony's Irish ancestry.
The Governor of Montserrat maintains a separate flag. The Governor's flag consists of a Union Flag defaced with the coat of arms.

Montserrat coat of arm

The Coat of Arms of Montserrat

was first adopted in 1909. The Arms consist of a shield featuring a lady in green representing Erin, the female personification of Ireland, based on the mythology of Ériu. The lady is holding a golden harp, a symbol of Ireland that features in Ireland's coat of arms. The cross symbolises Christianity.

The Arms pay tribute to the Irish ancestry of Montserrat, as much of the population is descended from the Irish settlers exiled to the island by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.
The Arms feature on the Flag of Montserrat, and on the defaced Union Flag used by the Governor of Montserrat. 

 Things to do in Montserrat


Volcano Viewing
Possible from safe vantage points including Jack Boy Hill, and the the MVO. Another recommended vantage point for viewing Plymouth and surrounding areas is from Garibaldi Hill although this requires a four-wheel drive vehicle or a steep climb to appreciate the view from the summit.

Plymouth - A Modern-day Pompeii
Abandoned in 1997, Montserrat's capital Plymouth has been compared to a modern day Pompeii. Buried deep in ash and volcanic debris including boulders up to the size of the houses that once stood there, the once thriving business and commercial centre of the island now resembles a dust-covered lunar landscape through which deep canyons have been gouged. Plymouth lies within the volcanic exclusion zone and access is not possible.

Nevertheless, the devastation of Plymouth can be safely viewed from Richmond Hill (when this are is opened). Or for a different perspective on the volcano and the devastation it has wrought to the southern end of  Montserrat, schedule a round the island boat tour. These tours begin from the port in Little Bay and head south, first to Plymouth, then round the southern tip of Montserrat to the Tar River Delta and north to the remnants of WH Bramble Airport. From the sea, you can clearly see the path taken by the pyroclastic flows and mudflows with the Soufrière Hills Volcano in the background. Tours generally last two hours and are subject to weather and volcanic conditions. 

Jack Boy Hill
In the north east of the island is a viewing facility at Jack Boy Hill, which also provides an excellent vantage point for volcano viewing. This facility overlooks the destroyed WH Bramble Airport, the old estate house, the site of destroyed eastern villages, now covered by volcanic pyroclastic flows and of course the volcano. The facility includes a viewing platform, picnic areas, a viewing telescope, a mini trail and landscaped grounds.

Montserrat Volcano Observatory
The Soufrière Hills Volcano is constantly monitored by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) in Flemmings. As well as monitoring the volcanic activity, the MVO provides information on the volcano to the general public. The MVO Interpretation Centre (recently established) is opened Monday to Thursday from 10:15am to 3:00pm. There are poster displays explaining the techniques used in monitoring seismic (earthquake) activity, gas emissions, ground deformation and environmental impacts; and dramatic video shows including a synopsis of the activity and examples of the recent events on the volcano, along with touch screen kiosks and volcanic artefacts on display. Further information on the MVO, along with up-to-date activity reports on the Soufrière Hills Volcano and explanations of volcanic phenomena.
Day Trips from Antigua
A number of tour operators based in Antigua operate day trips to Montserrat that include volcano viewing, a tour of the island, lunch and transportation.

This information from:

visit them for more on what to do in montserrat. 

Caribbean Hotels and Resorts

Anguilla | Antigua and Barbuda | Aruba | Bahamas | Barbados | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands |cozumel Mexico

Curacao | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Guadeloupe | Jamaica | Martinique | Montserrat | Puerto Rico

Saint Barthélemy | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Martin | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago

Turks and Caicos Islands | U. S Virgin Islands | Riu Hotels | sandals hotels and villas

Other Related Links

Home | Caribbean Directory  | Ocho Rios / Jamaica Tour | Caribbean Weather | Jamaica Airport Transfer

List Your Property with Caribbean Travel