English and Irish colonists from St. Kitts first settled on Montserrat in 1632; the first African slaves arrived three decades later. The British and French fought for possession of the island for most of the 18th century, but it finally was confirmed as a British possession in 1783. The island's sugar plantation economy was converted to small farm landholdings in the mid-19th century. Much of this island was devastated and two-thirds of the population fled abroad because of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano that began on 18 July 1995. Montserrat has endured volcanic activity since, with the last eruption occurring in July 2003.



Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Puerto Rico

Geographic coordinates

16 45 N, 62 12 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 102 sq km
land: 102 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

about 0.6 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


40 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical; little daily or seasonal temperature variation


volcanic island, mostly mountainous, with small coastal lowland


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Soufriere Hills volcano pre-eruption height was 915 m; current lava dome is subject to periodic build up and collapse; estimated dome height was 1050 m in 2015

Natural resources


Land use

agricultural land: 30%
arable land 20%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 10%
forest: 25%
other: 45% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

volcanic eruptions; severe hurricanes (June to November)
volcanism: Soufriere Hills volcano (elev. 915 m), has erupted continuously since 1995; a massive eruption in 1997 destroyed most of the capital, Plymouth, and resulted in approximately half of the island becoming uninhabitable

Environment - current issues

land erosion occurs on slopes that have been cleared for cultivation

Geography - note

the island is entirely volcanic in origin and comprised of three major volcanic centers of differing ages

People and Society


note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned (July 2016 est.)


noun: Montserratian(s)
adjective: Montserratian

Ethnic groups

African/black 88.4%, mixed 3.7%, hispanic/Spanish 3%, caucasian/white 2.7%, East Indian/Indian 1.5%, other 0.7% (2011 est.)




Protestant 67.1% (includes Anglican 21.8%, Methodist 17%, Pentecostal 14.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 10.5%, and Church of God 3.7%), Roman Catholic 11.6%, Rastafarian 1.4%, other 6.5%, none 2.6%, unspecified 10.8% (2001 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 16.27% (male 442/female 415)
15-24 years: 22.08% (male 605/female 558)
25-54 years: 47.66% (male 1,202/female 1,308)
55-64 years: 7.88% (male 188/female 227)
65 years and over: 6.11% (male 193/female 129) (2016 est.)

Median age

total: 32.6 years
male: 32.1 years
female: 33.1 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.48% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

11 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

6.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

only the northern half of the island is populated, the southern portion is uninhabitable due to volcanic activity


urban population: 9% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.65% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.83 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.6 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 12.7 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.4 years
male: 75.8 years
female: 72.9 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.31 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Drinking water source

urban: 99% of population
rural: 99% of population
total: 99% of population
urban: 1% of population
rural: 1% of population
total: 1% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 82.9% of population
rural: 82.9% of population
total: 82.9% of population
urban: 17.1% of population
rural: 17.1% of population
total: 17.1% of population (2007 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Education expenditures

5.1% of GDP (2009)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 17 years (2007)


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Montserrat
etymology: island named by explorer Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 after the Benedictine abbey Santa Maria de Montserrat, near Barcelona, Spain

Dependency status

overseas territory of the UK

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Legislative Council); self-governing overseas territory of the UK


name: Plymouth; note - Plymouth was abandoned in 1997 because of volcanic activity; interim government buildings have been built at Brades Estate in the Carr's Bay/Little Bay vicinity at the northwest end of Montserrat
geographic coordinates: 16 42 N, 62 13 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

3 parishes; Saint Anthony, Saint Georges, Saint Peter


none (overseas territory of the UK)

National holiday

birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)


previous 1960; latest effective 1 September 2010; amended 2011 (2016)

Legal system

English common law


see United Kingdom


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Elizabeth CARRIERE (since 5 August 2015)
head of government: Premier Donaldson ROMERO (since 12 September 2014); note - effective with the new Constitution Order of October 2010, the office of premier replaced the office of chief minister
cabinet: Executive Council consists of the governor, the premier, 3 other ministers, the attorney general, and the finance secretary
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party usually becomes premier

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislative Council (11 seats; 9 members directly elected in a single constituency by absolute majority vote in two rounds to serve 5-year terms and 2 ex-officio members - the attorney general and financial secretary)
elections: last held on 11 September 2014 (next to be held by 2019)
election results: percent of vote by party - PDM 50%, MCAP 35.4%, other 14.6%; seats by party - PDM 7, MCAP 2

Judicial branch

highest court(s): the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is the itinerant superior court of record for the 9-member Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to include Montserrat; the ECSC - with its headquarters on St. Lucia - is headed by the chief justice and is comprised of the Court of Appeal with 3 justices and the High Court with 16 judges; sittings of the Court of Appeal and High Court rotate among the 9 member states; 1 judge of the Supreme Court is a resident of Montserrat and presides over the High Court; note - Montserrat is also a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice
judge selection and term of office: chief justice of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court appointed by the Her Majesty, Queen ELIZABETH II; other justices and judges appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, and independent body of judicial officials; Court of Appeal justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 65; High Court judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 62
subordinate courts: magistrate's court

Political parties and leaders

Movement for Change and Prosperity or MCAP [Reuben MEADE]
People's Democratic Movement or PDM [Shirley OSBORNE]

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation

Caricom, CDB, Interpol (subbureau), OECS, UPU

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Flag description

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Montserratian coat of arms centered in the outer half of the flag; the arms feature a woman in green dress, Erin, the female personification of Ireland, standing beside a yellow harp and embracing a large dark cross with her right arm; Erin and the harp are symbols of Ireland reflecting the territory's Irish ancestry; blue represents awareness, trustworthiness, determination, and righteousness

National anthem

note: as a territory of the UK, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)


Economy - overview

Severe volcanic activity, which began in July 1995, has put a damper on this small, open economy. A catastrophic eruption in June 1997 closed the airport and seaports, causing further economic and social dislocation. Two-thirds of the 12,000 inhabitants f

Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcanic activity and on public sector construction activity. Half of the island remains uninhabitable. In January 2013, the EU announced the disbursement of a $55.2 million aid p

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$43.78 million (2006 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)


GDP - real growth rate

3.5% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$8,500 (2006 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 88.7%
government consumption: 50.2%
investment in fixed capital: 20.3%
investment in inventories: -0.1%
exports of goods and services: 19.9%
imports of goods and services: -79% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.6%
industry: 21.8%
services: 76.6% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers; livestock products


tourism, rum, textiles, electronic appliances

Industrial production growth rate

2% (2016 est.)

Labor force

4,521 (2012)

Unemployment rate

6% (1998 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $37.04 million
expenditures: $37.04 million (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.5% (2016 est.)
-1.1% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

10.99% (31 December 2010)
6.5% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

8.2% (31 December 2016 est.)
7.82% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$18.91 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$17.64 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$97.44 million (31 December 2015 est.)
$88.59 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$5.185 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$5.185 million (31 December 2014 est.)


$3.4 million (2016 est.)
$3 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

electronic components, plastic bags, apparel; hot peppers, limes, live plants; cattle


$31.75 million (2016 est.)
$30.76 million (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and transportation equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured goods, fuels, lubricants

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$51.47 million (31 December 2015 est.)
$45.1 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external

$8.9 million (1997)

Exchange rates

East Caribbean dollars (XCD) per US dollar -
2.7 (2016 est.)
2.7 (2015 est.)
2.7 (2014 est.)
2.7 (2013 est.)
2.7 (2012 est.)


Electricity - production

23 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

21.39 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

5,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

570 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

416.4 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

88,010 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 3,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 57 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 5,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 95 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern and fully digitalized
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity exceeds 150 per 100 persons
international: country code - 1-664; landing point for the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) optic submarine cable with links to 13 other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad (2015)

Broadcast media

Radio Montserrat, a public radio broadcaster, transmits on 1 station and has a repeater transmission to a second station; repeater transmissions from the GEM Radio Network of Trinidad and Tobago provide another 2 radio stations; cable and satellite TV ava (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 2,860
percent of population: 54.6% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3 (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

VP-M (2016)


1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2013)


note: volcanic eruptions that began in 1995 destroyed most of the 227 km road system; a new road infrastructure has been built on the north end of the island (2008)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Little Bay, Plymouth


Military branches

no regular military forces; Royal Montserrat Police Force (2011)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Illicit drugs

transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe