The capital of Grenada is St. George’s. This city is the largest city on the island complex that comprises Grenada with just under 37,000 residents.
Grenada is located in the West Indies in the Lesser Antilles island chain and is made up of several islands, with the main island – known as Spice Island – to the south of 8 smaller satellite islands: Caille Island, Diamond Island, Carriacou, Ronde Island, Frigate Island, Large Island, Saline Island, and Petite Martinique. St. George’s is located on the large Spice Island.
Read on to learn more about the city of St. George’s and its unique history and culture.
Where is the Capital of Grenada Located?
Grenada is an island nation composed of one main island (called Spice Island) with 8 smaller satellite islands to the north of it. The capital city of St. George’s is located on the southwestern coast of Spice Island in a U-shaped harbor.
Brief History of St. George’s
The indigenous Island Caribs were the first inhabitants of the islands of Grenada, a warlike people who attacked and raided various other indigenous tribes throughout the West Indies.
Christopher Columbus first spotted and charted Grenada on his third journey to the Americas, but Europeans were unable to settle on Grenada at first because of the Caribs’ violent resistance. It wasn’t until the 1650s when the French successfully colonized the island and signed a peace treaty with the indigenous tribe.
By the late 1600s, many infectious diseases from Europe – mainly smallpox – had all but eradicated the native Carib population, who had forcibly migrated from Grenada to the islands of Dominica and St. Vincent.
After almost a century of war between the French, the Dutch, and the British, Grenada fell under British rule in 1763.
St. George’s was founded by the French in 1650 by the governor of Martinique, Jacques Dyel du Parquet, under the name “La Grenade.” It wasn’t until 1666 when Ft. Royale – a wooden fortification – was built overlooking the harbor, which protected the settlers and their cash crops of tobacco and indigo from sporadic attacks from the native Caribs.
The original capital of Grenada – St. Louis, named after King Louis IX of France – was the site of the original main French settlement and lay across the island on the eastern side of the harbor. However, due to the settlement’s propensity for flooding and disease outbreaks (particularly malaria), the settlement, inhabitants, and government offices were moved west.
This main settlement remained St. Louis until the British the Treaty of Paris dictated that control of Grenada be transferred to Great Britain. Once under British control, the name was changed to St. George’s after both England’s patron saint and King George III.
A fortified town called Ville de Fort Royale – French for Fort Royal Town – was constructed alongside St. George’s and contained defensive weapons the French had moved in pieces to the island to aid against their campaigns against the Caribs.
In the 1880s, St. George became the capital of the British Windward Islands after Barbados ceased to be a British colony.
In 1973, Grenada gained independence from Britain with Eric Gairy being the nation’s first prime minister. Grenada became part of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which it is still a current member.
However, the island was not yet free from strife. A civil war broke out in 1983 as the result of a military coup between the island’s political factions, necessitating US aid.
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan devastated St. George’s and other parts of the island. The hurricane damaged a large percentage of nutmeg trees, upon which Grenada’s economy depends. Reconstruction efforts were funded by several of the world’s nations, which aided in St. George being rebuilt in just a few short years.
Today, Grenada has a thriving tourism industry and was even named one of the 10 of the world’s best yachting destinations.
When did St. George’s Become the Capital of Grenada?
St. George’s was founded by the French in 1650 under the name St. Louis after King Louis IX. The capital city’s original location was too prone to flooding and malaria outbreaks for it to remain, so the settlement, residents, and government offices were moved to the western part of the island with a more predictable climate.
St. George’s is Grenada’s current capital and remains the island nation’s largest city.
Why is St. George’s the Capital of Grenada?
Due to its location along the harbor, St. George’s is in a prime area for Grenada’s capital. The island nation’s main exports that mainly pass through St. George’s port are:
- sugar cane
St. George’s is the original settlement built by the first French colonists to arrive on Grenada’s Spice Island.
Best Places to Visit in St. George’s
As one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the Caribbean, St. George’s has no shortage of interesting and fun places to visit. Below are only a few of the many great places in this unique city.
- St. Margaret’s Falls – this breathtaking waterfall is situated near the island’s center and nestled in the rainforest, but the hike is grueling, so it’s best left for experienced hikers.
- Grenada National Museum – this building dates back to the early 1700s and has an interesting history. Originally built as French barracks, the building was then converted to a prison before becoming the city’s first hotel. Today, it houses a great number of Grenada’s historical artifacts, including remnants from the indigenous tribes who once inhabited the island and the surrounding West Indies.
- St. George’s Cathedral – this brightly colored Roman Catholic cathedral was built in 1818 and is a peaceful place to visit.
- National Cricket Stadium – St. George’s was the host of the Cricket World Cup in 2007
- Fort George – this historic fort dates back to 1818, when the French colonists built it in defense of attacks from the native Carib population on the island. The best-preserved buildings are used by the city’s police, but Fort George is still available for tour.