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Montserrat flag
Montserrat coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : A people of excellence, molded by nature, nurtured by God

( English : "An excellent people, formed by nature, nourished by God")

Official language English
Capital de jure : Plymouth
de facto : Brades (planned: Little Bay )
Seat of government Brades
Form of government British overseas territory
Head of state Queen Elizabeth II

represented by
Governor Andrew Pearce
Head of government Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell
surface 102 km²
population 4649 (2018)
Population density 46 inhabitants per km²
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • $ 62.1 million
currency East Caribbean Dollar (XCD)
National anthem God Save the Queen
Time zone UTC − 4
ISO 3166 MS , MSR, 500
Internet TLD .ms
Telephone code +1 (664) see NANP
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Topographic map
Topographic map
Montserrat, with the Soufriere Hills volcano in the background
Montserrat, with the Soufriere Hills volcano in the background

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 . Its name goes back to Christopher Columbus , who sighted the island on his second trip to America in 1493 and named it after the monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat in Catalonia .

Geography and geology

The island is 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 Center Hills in the middle and the Soufrière Hills in the south. The volcanic complexes get younger from north to south. The Silver Hills were active 2.6 to 1.2 million years ago, the Center Hills 950,000 to 450,000 years ago and the Soufrière Hills volcano, which is still active today, was formed around 175,000 years ago. The remains of the old volcanic centers Silver Hills and Center Hills still characterize the interior landscape of the islands as steep hills up to 741 meters (Katy Hill). The flanks of the ancient volcanic domes are covered by soft volcanic sediment deposits ( ash , tuff , pumice , deposits of debris and mud flows ).

The two volcanic massifs Center Hills and Soufrière Hills are separated by the Belham Valley. The Belham Valley is the surface image of a northwest-southeast trending fault that continues submarine in the directions of Guadeloupe and Redonda . Much of the rainwater that runs off from the mountains is channeled into the sea via the Belham Valley. Since the beginning of the last eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano in 1995, the Belham Valley has been replenished with more than 12 meters of sediment from lahars and pyroclastic currents .

Montserrat has a tropical climate with temperatures between 23 and 30 ° C. Precipitation falls throughout the year, which is broken down into the rainy season (July to November) and the dry season (February to April). 70 percent of the annual groundwater renewal takes place between July and December. The west side of the island and the Center Hills have a rainy microclimate and therefore lush rainforest vegetation. In contrast, the northern Silver Hills and the east coast of the island are characterized by an arid microclimate and mostly overgrown by dry thorn bushes.

About 290 meters off the north coast lies the tiny rocky island of Little Redonda ( measuring less than 1000 square meters) (not to be confused with the island of Redonda, which is located about 21 kilometers northwest of Antigua and Barbuda ).


Geoscientists date the last eruption on Montserrat to the 16th century, thus before the colonization of the island by Europeans. The first historically documented eruption is therefore also the island's youngest phase of activity: after a 370-year break, swarms of earthquakes announced the imminent eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano from 1992 onwards. The volcano has been active since 1995 and devastated a large part of the island including the capital Plymouth in the course of the eruption . The activity of the volcano initially followed a cyclical pattern of two to three years of high eruption activity ( volcanic eruptions , pyroclastic flows and the build-up of a lava dome ) alternating with three to four year periods of volcanic inactivity on the surface, but persistent soil deformation due to renewed pressure build-up in the interior of the earth. A partial cathedral collapse in 2010 marks the last eruptive activity (as of June 2020). However, geodetic measurements show a further increase in pressure in the magma chambers .

Due to the volcanic eruption, two thirds of the island and a radius of ten nautical miles around the southern part of the island are designated as a restricted area. Navigating the coastal waters is risky because there are no current sea charts. When volcanic activity permits, guided tours of the island's restricted area are offered. Further information about the volcano, its monitoring and the current danger situation can be obtained from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) (visits possible).


Montserrat has 4649 inhabitants (as of 2018). At the time of the 2011 census, Look Out was the largest settlement with 670 inhabitants. 88.4 percent of the population are of black African descent , followed by mixed race with 3.7 and Hispanics with three percent (all data as of 2011).

Population development

year 1921 1946 1960 1970 1980 1991 1998 2001 2005 2008 2011
date Apr 9 Apr 7 Apr 7 12th of May 12th of May 12th of May 12th of May
population 12,120 14,333 1) 13,378 12,155 11,685 11,314 2,850 2) 4,491 9,341 6,409 3) 4,922
1) For 1946, 13,313 are also given
2) After the Soufrière Hills erupted in 1995
3) After the Soufrière Hills grew again in 2007


Montserrat has been populated for around 7,000 years. From 400 BC Arawak immigrated to the region , who made up the majority of the population until the European conquest. In the 15th century they were conquered by the warring Caribs . However, the Arawak culture remained dominant. In 2016, the first petroglyphs were discovered on the island, the age of which experts estimate to be 1,000 to 1,500 years. Further investigations should determine the time of origin more precisely and clarify the possible meaning of the signs.

Christopher Columbus was the first European to sight the island on November 3rd, 1493 and took it under the name of Santa Maria de Montserrat , after the famous Montserrat monastery in the mountains of the same name in Catalonia ( Spain ), for the Spanish crown. However, the island of Montserrat was never settled by the Spaniards.

The English took advantage of the Spanish lack of interest and founded a first settlement in 1632. The tensions between Catholics and Anglicans in the motherland which culminated in the English Civil War had reached the Caribbean. The Irish residents of the neighboring island of St. Kitts were relocated to Montserrat. Irish immigrants from other British colonies in America were added later. Even today, a large part of the inhabitants of European descent are of Irish descent.

1674 formed Montserrat together with Antigua , St. Kitts and Nevis a confederation of English island colonies with a common House of Representatives under the governor Wiliam Stapleton.

The settlers grew tobacco , sugar cane and cotton . West African slaves were introduced to work in the fields . Their descendants form the majority of the population today. In 1838 slavery was abolished.

From 1871 to 1956 Montserrat was part of the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands , and in 1958 it became a member of the West Indian Federation . After the dissolution of the federation in 1962, the islanders voted to become a British crown colony again. The territory has been on the UN list of sovereign territories without self-government since 1946 .

In September 1989, the island was hit with full force by Hurricane Hugo and severely destroyed.

Much of the island was devastated by a series of Soufrière Hills volcano eruptions that began on July 18, 1995. The only airport in Montserrat was also affected . 75 percent of the population fled the island. The capital Plymouth was officially abandoned in 1997 because of the volcanic eruptions. A transitional government seat was established in Brades on the northwestern end of the island.

In February 2005, the terminal of the new John A. Osborne Airport on the northern half of the island was inaugurated by Princess Anne ; on July 11, 2005, the airport was officially opened. A new capital is under construction in Little Bay .

17th of September

September 17th is a "fateful day" for the residents of Montserrat, combined with three catastrophic events:

  • On September 17, 1965, a Boeing 707 of the US airline Pan Am crashed on Chances Peak on its way from Martinique to Antigua. 30 people were killed.
  • On September 17, 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit the island with full force, killing 10 residents and destroying 90 percent of the homes on Montserrat. The damage he caused amounted to at least US $ 260 million.
  • On September 17, 1996, the first truly destructive explosion in the recent eruption series of the Soufrière Hills volcano occurred. When the cathedral collapsed, large quantities of pumice and rocks were erupted.


Montserrat is a British overseas territory based on the constitution of 2010. It is a member of CARICOM and the OECS and is one of the sponsors of the University of the West Indies .

The head of government of the island is the premier of Montserrat .

The defense of the island is the responsibility of the British armed forces . With the Royal Montserrat Defense Force, founded in 1899, Montserrat maintains a volunteer force of around 20 soldiers who mainly perform ceremonial tasks.

Administrative division

St. Peter (red), St. Georges (green), St. Anthony (turquoise)

Montserrat consists of three administrative parishes :

Parish location main place Area
Population census
Apr 9, 1946 May 5, 2011
St. Peter Northwest ... 38.0 4,411 4,922
St. Georges east ... 28.3 3,882 0
St. Anthony south Plymouth 35.7 6,040 0
Montserrat Plymouth 102.0 14,333 4,922

The communities in the east and south are in the restricted zones that were established after the eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano, and only exist de jure . The entire population is concentrated in the Parish of Saint Peter in the northwest of the island, where the provisional seat of government Brades is also located.

Originally there was a fourth Parish St. Patrick (now the eastern part of St. Anthony).


The Montserrat economy was hit hard by the 2005 volcanic eruptions. The nominal gross domestic product, at about 73 million in 1994 US dollars had been lying, fell to 2001 to less than half that value. In 2018, GDP was nominally around $ 62 million. Public administration generates around a third of the total added value.


There is left-hand traffic . After the destruction of WH Bramble Airport by the Soufrière Hills eruption in 1997, Montserrat could only be reached by ship or helicopter until the newly built John A. Osborne Airport in northern Germany on July 11, 2005 for around US $ 18.5 million Island was opened.



In the 1980s, the " Air Studios " of the former Beatles producer George Martin , who lived temporarily on Montserrat , were located on Montserrat . A number of well-known musicians recorded famous albums in the studios. B. Dire Straits , The Police , Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark , Paul McCartney or Phil Collins . Many of these artists took part in the “ Music for Montserrat ” charity concert for the benefit of the island on September 15, 1997 in London's Royal Albert Hall .

The musician Arrow (actually Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell), born in Montserrat in 1954 , recorded the song Hot Hot Hot in 1983 , which became the secret national anthem of Montserrat.

Ian Anderson , front man of the band Jethro Tull , processed events in Montserrat in the song of the same name on his third solo album ("Secret language of birds").


The poet and playwright EA Markham (1939-2008) was born in Harris on Montserrat, and since 1956 he has lived mainly in England. He toured the Anglophone Caribbean with the Caribbean Theater Workshop from 1970 to 1971.


Montserrat is an independent member of FIFA and CONCACAF and takes part in their competitions with its own team . As a rule, Montserrat loses very high and is traditionally one of the last positions in the FIFA world rankings . A portrait of football on Montserrat is offered by the documentary “ The Other Final ”, which reports on the international match against Bhutan , the second bottom of the FIFA world rankings, which took place in 2002 parallel to the World Cup final . Montserrat lost the game in Bhutan 4-0.


  • Howard A. Fergus: Montserrat - History of a Caribbean Colony . Macmillan, London 1994, ISBN 0-333-61217-5 (English).

Web links

Commons : Montserrat  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Montserrat  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: Montserrat  - travel guide

Individual evidence

  1. ^ National Motto for Montserrat Selected. Government of Montserrat as of October 16, 2013, archived from the original on December 1, 2017 ; accessed on November 30, 2017 (English).
  2. a b Gross value added by economic activity in current prices annual 1977 to 2018. ( Excel Spreadsheet ; 23 kB) In: Statistics Department of Montserrat, accessed April 15, 2020 .
  3. CL Harford, MS Pringle, RSJ Sparks, SR Young: The volcanic evolution of Montserrat using 40 Ar / 39 Ar geochronology . In: Geological Society, London, Memoirs . tape 21 , no. 1 , 2002, ISSN  0435-4052 , p. 93–113 , doi : 10.1144 / GSL.MEM.2002.021.01.05 (English).
  4. ^ E. Shalev, CL Kenedi, P. Malin, V. Voight, V. Miller: Three-dimensional seismic velocity tomography of Montserrat from the SEA-CALIPSO offshore / onshore experiment: SEA-CALIPSO TOMOGRAPHY . In: Geophysical Research Letters . tape 37 , no. October 19 , 2010, doi : 10.1029 / 2010GL042498 (English).
  5. Stefanie Hautmann, Antonio G. Camacho, Joachim Gottsmann, Henry M. Odbert, R. Tappy Syers: The shallow structure beneath Montserrat (West Indies) from new Bouguer gravity data . In: Geophysical Research Letters . tape 40 , no. 19 , October 16, 2013, p. 5113-5118 , doi : 10.1002 / grl.51003 (English).
  6. Nathalie Feuillet, Frédérique Leclerc, Paul Tapponnier, François Beauducel, Georges Boudon: Active faulting induced by slip partitioning in Montserrat and link with volcanic activity: New insights from the 2009 GWADASEIS marine cruise data . In: Geophysical Research Letters . tape 37 , no. October 19 , 2010, doi : 10.1029 / 2010GL042556 (English).
  7. a b Brioch Hemmings, Fiona Whitaker, Joachim God man, Andrew Hughes: Hydrogeology of Montserrat review and new insights . In: Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies . tape 3 , March 2015, ISSN  2214-5818 , p. 1–30 , doi : 10.1016 / j.ejrh.2014.08.008 (English).
  8. United Kingdom Overseas Territories Online Herbarium - Montserrat. In: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, accessed June 10, 2020 .
  9. BP Kokelaar: setting, chronology and consequences of the eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat (1995-1999) . In: Geological Society, London, Memoirs . tape 21 , no. 1 , 2002, ISSN  0435-4052 , p. 1–43 , doi : 10.1144 / GSL.MEM.2002.021.01.02 (English).
  10. ^ Henry M. Odbert, Graham A. Ryan, Glen S. Mattioli, Stefanie Hautmann, Joachim Gottsmann: Chapter 11 Volcano geodesy at the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat: a review . In: Geological Society, London, Memoirs . tape 39 , no. 1 , 2014, ISSN  0435-4052 , p. 195-217 , doi : 10.1144 / M39.11 (English).
  11. MVO Scientific Report for Volcanic Activity between 1 October 2019 and 31 March 2020. (PDF; 7.75 MB) In: Montserrat Volcano Observatory, May 26, 2020, accessed June 10, 2020 .
  12. Statistics Department Montserrat (Ed.): Intercensal Population Count and Labor Force Survey 2018 - Key Findings Report . Government of Montserrat - Statistics Department, June 12, 2019, Executive Summary - Main Findings: Population and Demographic Characteristics, p. 4 (English, [PDF; 1.8 MB ; accessed on May 26, 2020]).
  13. a b Statistics Department Montserrat (ed.): Census 2011 - Montserrat at a Glance . Government of Montserrat - Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, Brades, Montserrat 2012, p. 9 , Table 2: Usual Resident Population by Enumeration District and Sex ( available online on the Montserrat government website [PDF; 1,3 MB ; accessed on May 26, 2020]).
  14. Statistics Department Montserrat (ed.): Census 2011 - Montserrat at a Glance . Government of Montserrat - Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, Brades, Montserrat 2012, p. 15 , Figure 3: Usual Resident Population by Ethnicity (English, accessible online on the Montserrat government website [PDF; 1,3 MB ; accessed on May 26, 2020]).
  15. Ryan Schuessler: Hikers on Caribbean island of Montserrat find ancient stone carvings. In: The Guardian . Guardian News & Media Ltd., June 3, 2016, accessed November 30, 2017.
  16. Hermann Wellenreuther : Decline and Rise - History of North America from the beginning of settlement to the end of the 17th century (=  history of North America in an Atlantic perspective from the beginning to the present . Volume 1 ). 1st edition. LIT Verlag, Münster 2000, ISBN 3-8258-4447-1 , p. 401 .
  17. ^ Princess Royal arrives in Montserrat. In: Caribbean Net News. Caribbean News Now, February 22, 2005, accessed November 30, 2017 .
  18. Airport data Montserrat-Gerald's Airport in the Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on April 21, 2020.
  19. Montserrat's September 17 Anniversary of Disasters. In: The Montserrat Reporter. Montserrat Printing & Publishing Inc., September 18, 2015, accessed November 30, 2017 .
  20. Aircraft accident data and report of the Pan-Am accident on September 17, 1965 in the Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on November 30, 2017.
  21. ^ The Montserrat Constitution Order 2010 . Statutory Instruments 2010 No. 2474 - Caribbean and North Atlantic Territories. October 2010 (English, online on the website of the Constitution & Commissions Secretariat [PDF; 223 kB ; accessed on November 30, 2017]).
  22. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Ed.): The Overseas Territories - Security, Success and Sustainability . The Stationery Office (TSO), London 2012, ISBN 978-0-10-183742-2 , 1: Defense, Security and Safety of the Territories and their People, pp. 23 , col. 2 (English, online [PDF; 5.2 MB ; accessed on November 30, 2017]).
  23. ^ Statistical Office of the United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ed.): Demographic Yearbook / Annuaire Démographique 1955 . United Nations , New York 1955, 5. Population by major civil divisions: each census, 1945–1954 / Population par principales divisions administratives aux différents recensements effectués de 1945 à 1954, p. 155 , col. 2 , America North (continued) - Amérique du Nord (suite): Montserrat (English, French, online [PDF; 47.6 MB ; accessed on November 30, 2017]).
  25. ^ Contribution of Gross Domestic Product by Economic Activity in Current Prices in Percentage. ( Excel Spreadsheet ; 22 kB) In: Statistics Department of Montserrat, accessed April 15, 2020 .

Coordinates: 16 ° 45 ′  N , 62 ° 12 ′  W