Montserrat

Environment:

Montserrat is a Caribbean island, southeast of Puerto Rico. It is volcanic, mostly mountainous, with a small coastal lowland. The highest point is actually a lava dome in English’s Crater, part of the Soufriere Hills volcano complex, which has erupted continuously since 1995. A massive eruption in 1997 destroyed most of the former capital of Plymouth, and resulted in approximately half of the island becoming uninhabitable, now referred to as the Exclusion Zone. The main environmental issue is land erosion on slopes that have been cleared for cultivation.

There is a Montserrat Volcano Observatory, which is available to visitors. Since volcanic activity has devastated most of the southern forests, the Centre Hills Project aims to help the people of Montserrat conserve the last remaining habitat for numerous threatened species, such as the Montserrat oriole. The Montserrat Reef Project is a new artificial reef, designed as an educational snorkel trail to highlight marine life. There are two dive shops available on the island, Green Monkey Inn & Dive Shop and Scuba Montserrat Dive Shop.

According to the Montserrat Tourist Board, there is a Mount Pleasant Eco Lodge & Camp Site available. Gingerbread Hill seems to be the preferred lodging for both volcano specialists and dxpeditions. Green Haven cottage borders the rainforest, near Central Hills. The Essence Guesthouse is a European-style bed and breakfast, like home away from home in Montserrat.

Protected Areas:

  • Bransby Point Other Area
  • Carr’s Bay Battery Other Area
  • Cassava Ghaut (a) Other Area
  • Cassava Ghaut (b) Other Area
  • Dry Ghaut Other Area
  • Dry Ghaut (b) Other Area
  • Fox’s Bay Bird Sanctuary Private Reserve
  • Galway’s Estate Other Area
  • Galways Soufriere Other Area
  • Great Alps Falls Other Area
  • Lawyers River Other Area
  • Lime Kiln Beach (a) Other Area
  • Lime Kiln Beach (b) Other Area
  • Montserrat National Park National Park
  • Mountain lands Other Area
  • Silver Hills Faunal Reserve
  • St George’s Hill Other Area
  • Woodlands Beach Other Area

Culture:

Christopher Columbus claimed Montserrat on his second voyage in 1493. The island fell under English control in 1632, when anti-Catholic violence in Nevis forced a group of Irish to settle on Montserrat. Slavery was abolished in Montserrat in 1834. In the 1970s and 80s, a popular recording studio was operated on the island by The Beatles producer George Martin, until it was wiped out by Hurricane Hugo. In the 1990s, the Soufrière Hills volcano buried the former capital Plymouth, but a new one is being planned for Little Bay. The people of Montserrat were granted residency rights in the United Kingdom in 1998, and full British citizenship in 2002. There is an unusual story about the uninhabitable island of Redonda, between Montserrat and Nevis; it has a hotly contested history as a “micronation”, known as the Kingdom of Redonda.

Since 1970, the Montserrat National Trust is the leading NGO dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the island’s unique heritage and environment. The same Sir George Martin who operated the former Montserrat Air Studios built the new multimillion dollar Montserrat Cultural Centre in Little Bay as a gift to Montserratians, in 2006. Both SVG Air and Montserrat Airways fly into Montserrat from nearby Antigua. According to the Montserrat Tourist Board, there is also regular ferry service to Montserrat from Antigua.

References:

  • On the economics and social typology of volcano tourism with special reference to Montserrat by N Petford, J Fletcher & Y Morakabati, 2010
  • Sustainable Tourism Development in Montserrat by J Lema, J Agrusa & AP Handel, 2009
  • Glimpses into the Unmentionable: Montserrat, Tourism and Anthropological Readings of ‘Subordinate Exotic’ and ‘Comic Exotic’ Travel Writing by J Skinner, 2008
  • Tourism in Montserrat: The challenge of a volcanic crisis by G Cassell & E Cassell, 2005
  • Voyeurs, voyagers and disaster tourism from Mount Chance, Montserrat by J Skinner & D Macleod, 2003
  • Can Volcano-based Eco-Tourism Save Montserrat? A Post-Colonial Development Proposal by LM Pulsipher, 2000
  • Alternative tourism in Montserrat by DB Weaver, 1995
  • Dependence and underdevelopment: tourism in the past plantation society of Montserrat, West Indies by PJ De Vries, 1978
  • From plantation to tourism: Social and economic change in Montserrat, West Indies by P De Vries, 1972