389 sq km (150 sq miles).
264.6 per sq km.
Head of state:
Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Frederick Ballantyne since 2002.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves since 2001.
220/240 volts AC, 50Hz (except Petit St Vincent and Palm Island which use 110 volts AC, 60Hz and American-style plugs with two flat pins). British-style plugs with three square pins are used everywhere else.
Scattered across the Caribbean Sea like so many emeralds, St Vincent & the Grenadines is a glorious-looking archipelago. The country’s name makes it sound like an old soul band, and aptly there’s something timeless about the place. Lush mountain peaks, white sands, secluded coves, volcanic landscapes and spectacular coral reefs all go towards making this one of the region’s most diverse spots. For hikers, sailors and those who just fancy kicking back in wave-lapped sunshine for a week or two, it’s some proposition.
The country, which found Hollywood fame when it was used as a setting for the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is made up of 32 islands and cays. St Vincent itself is by far the largest, and has a laid-back capital city, Kingstown, to show for it. Colonial architecture, botanical gardens and a fish market are among the attractions. The latter hints at the dishes that dominate the archipelago’s food scene – fresh seafood, usually washed down with a cold Hairoun beer, is a speciality. Elsewhere on St Vincent there’s some fantastic walking to be had, most notably the trail that leads up to La Soufrière volcano.
The smaller islands that make up the Grenadines offer an even quieter pace of life. Among the most appealing spots are Bequia, which has good claim to that overused adage “the Caribbean as it used to be,” and Mustique, a long-established A-list bolthole that has welcomed the likes of Mick Jagger, Kate Moss and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The best way to experience the outlying islands is to hop between them by boat, and the country as a whole has near-legendary status in the yachting community. The most obvious focal point on a sailing trip is the stupendously scenic Tobago Cays, which is made up of five uninhabited islands and offers excellent potential for divers and snorkelers.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of crime including murder, robbery and assault.
You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Be vigilant at all times. Take care when walking alone off the busy main roads and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark.
Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late night street parties, especially during the festival season.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables and travel documents in a safety deposit box or hotel safe. You should check that the hotel safe is securely fixed before using it to store your items.
Driving is on the left. To drive on the island you must get a local temporary driving licence. The car hire companies will usually assist with this process. You must present a valid UK driving licence.
Take care when driving on the roads as there can be potholes and speed bumps. Observe the speed limits. You should take extra care on minor roads and in rural areas where there are narrow roads and blind corners. Pedestrians often walk on the roads and indicators are not always used.
Take extra care when driving at night as some roads are unlit. Road signs and hazards may not be easily visible.
Don’t stop if you’re flagged down by pedestrians. Keep car doors locked when driving.
In the event of an accident, call the police and don’t move the vehicle.
Taxis aren’t metered. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations. Agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. You can often pay in US dollars as well as EC dollars.
Public transport is available and cheaper. Minibus drivers may drive above the speed limit.