Aerial view of Montserrat
Author: NASA Expedition 21 Crew (public domain)

Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean. It covers 102 sq km (39 sq mi) and has a population of about 5,000 people (2011 estimate). The island measures 16 km (10 mi) across and 11 km (7 mi) wide. It is one of the Leeward Islands, which is part of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. Its capital is Plymouth although Brades function as the de facto capital since 1998.

Montserrat is a British overseas territory where English is used as the official language and Queen Elizabeth II is the monarch. The people of Montserrat are ethnically West African, Mulatto Creoles, British and Irish. Since 2002, they enjoy the citizenship of the United Kingdom.

Montserrat is four hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-4). The East Caribbean dollar is the official currency here. The phone IDD code here is +1-664. The electricity here is 230V/60Hz using North American plug.

Today Montserrat is a territory in mend. This is due to the eruption of Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano which began in 1995, and continues to this day. It wrecked havoc on the island, causing much devastation to the capital at Plymouth, forcing the government to relocate temporarily to Brades while a new town is being constructed at Little Bay. Meanwhile, many of the residents of Plymouth have fled abroad, to the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Plymouth volcano devastation, Montserrat Author: Wailunip (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 Generic)

The modern history of Montserrat goes back to the arrival of Christopher Columbus there in 1493. He named the island Santa María de Montserrat, after the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrat, the Benedictine abbey in Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain.

Montserrat came under English control in 1632 when Irish settlers moved there. The island was briefly captured by France in 1782, but returned to British rule following the Treaty of Paris.

The economy of Montserrat was originally based on the growing of sugar cane. When the price of sugar fell in the mid 19th century, lime trees were introduced to replace it. The island remains outside mainstream attention for much of the 20th century, until the final decades, when devastation fell on Montserrat, due to Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and the Soufriere Hills volcanic eruptions since 1995.

Visiting Montserrat
Presently the Gerald Airport (MNI) is the main airport serving Montserrat. It receives daily flights from Antigua. When in Montserrat, the most practical way to move about is to rent a car. There is only one main road that takes you along the coast, and only two petrol stations to refuel.