Flag of Montserrat

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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.


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

Geographic coordinates:

16 45 N, 62 12 W


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

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Chances Peak (in the Soufriere Hills volcanic complex) 914 m

Natural hazards:

severe hurricanes (June to November); volcanic eruptions (Soufriere Hills volcano has erupted continuously since 1995)

Environment - current issues:

land erosion occurs on slopes that have been cleared for cultivation

Geography - note:

the island is entirely volcanic in origin and contains seven active volcanoes


note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:

black, white


Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist, other Christian denominations



Dependency status:

overseas territory of the UK

Legal system:

English common law and statutory law

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 airports and seaports, causing further economic and social dislocation. Two-thirds of the 12,000 inhabitants fled the island. Some began to return in 1998, but lack of housing limited the number. The agriculture sector continued to be affected by the lack of suitable land for farming and the destruction of crops. Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcano and on public sector construction activity. The UK has launched a three-year $122.8 million aid program to help reconstruct the economy. Half of the island is expected to remain uninhabitable for another decade.

Agriculture - products:

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


tourism, rum, textiles, electronic appliances

Exports - commodities:

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

Exports - partners:

US, Antigua and Barbuda

Imports - commodities:

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

Imports - partners:

US, UK, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, Canada

Economic aid - recipient:

Country Policy Plan (2001) is a three-year program for spending $122.8 million in British budgetary assistance (2002 est.)


East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

70 (1994)


total: 227 km
paved: NA km
note: volcanic eruptions beginning in 1995 destroyed most of the road system (2003)
unpaved: NA km

Ports and harbors:

Plymouth (abandoned), Little Bay (anchorages and ferry landing), Carr's Bay

Merchant marine:



1 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Military - note:

defence is the responsibility of the UK