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Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean and belongs to the Lesser Antilles. It is part of the West Indies and an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.

Geography and Geology

The island lies southwest of Antigua, southeast of Nevis and northwest of Guadeloupe. It is of volcanic origin and essentially consists of three volcanic massifs: the Silver Hills in the north, the Centre Hills in the middle and the Soufrière Hills in the south. Montserrat has a tropical climate with temperatures between 23 and 30 degrees Celsius and no rainy or dry periods. About 290 meters off the north coast lies the tiny (less than 1000 square meters) rock island Little Redonda.

Volcanism

Only the Soufrière Hills volcano is still active on Montserrat. There were no eruptions in historical times; geoscientists date the last eruption before Europeans settled on the island to the 16th century. After a break of 400 years, shoals of earthquakes announced the latest phase of activity in 1992. In 1995, a volcanic eruption devastated a large part of the island.

Due to the volcanic eruption, two thirds of the island is a restricted area. A navigation on the coastal waters is risky, since no current nautical charts are available. A strong smell of hydrogen sulphide can be perceived in a wide area at sea (April 2005). The volcano is still considered so active that the current threat is reported several times a day via maritime radio.

The restricted area on the island was partially lifted in 2005. Guided tours of the island are offered (mid-2005). Ships can call at the northern bay, only in the southern part of the island landing is forbidden. Cruise ships approach the south coast up to 500 m per day.

The volcano has been active again since 8 January 2007. The southern part of the island has been closed again since then.

Politics

  • St. Peter (red), St. Georges (green) and St. Anthony (blue)
  • Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory based on the 2010 Constitution. It is a member of CARICOM and OECS and is one of the sponsors of the University of the West Indies.
  • The Prime Minister of the island is the Prime Minister of Montserrat.

The defence of the island is the task of the British Armed Forces. Montserrat maintains with the Royal Montserrat Defence Force, founded in 1899, a volunteer force of about twenty soldiers, which mainly performs ceremonial tasks.

The first two municipalities are affected by the restricted zones established following the eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano and are now de jure. The entire population is concentrated in the Parish of Saint Peter in the north-west of the island, where the temporary seat of government of Brades is also located. Originally there was a fourth Parish St. Patrick (today eastern part of St. Anthony).

Infrastructure

It’s left-hand traffic. After the destruction of W. H. Bramble Airport by the eruption of the Soufrière Hills in 1997, Montserrat could only be reached by ship or helicopter until the newly built John A. Osborne Airport in the north of the island was opened on July 11, 2005, at a cost of approximately US$ 18.5 million.