Montserrat is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State, represented locally by a governor.
Both Montserrat’s British and Irish connections are reflected in its flag. On a blue field, the Union Jack is featured in the upper hoist quadrant and the Montserratian coat of arms centred in the outer half of the flag. The island arms, dating from 1909 are represented by a shield depicting a woman in green holding a cross and a golden harp. The figure is a personification of Ireland, and the cross she embraces, the people’s love of Christ and Catholicism.
At the time of Columbus’ arrival on Montserrat in 1493, it was populated by Arawaks and Caribs. The island’s main European settlers turned out to be not Iberian, but Irish, after Irish refugees fleeing anti-Catholic sentiment in St. Kitts settled in Montserrat and the island fell under British control in 1632. In 1782, Montserrat was briefly taken by France, but returned to England under the Treaty of Versailles. Much of Montserrat was devastated and two-thirds of the population fled abroad because of the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano that began on 18 July 1995. Montserrat has endured volcanic activity since. The island is entirely volcanic in origin and comprised of three major volcanic centres of differing ages.
Area: 102 sq. km.
Capital: Plymouth (abandoned in 1997 due to volcanic activity; interim government buildings have been built at Brades Estate, in the Carr's Bay/ Little Bay vicinity at the northwest end of the island)
Population: 9,439 (an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the commencement of volcanic activity in July 1995
Language: English (official); Caribbean Creole
Currency: Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar (US$1=EC$2.70, rate fixed since 1976) Legal system: based on English common law.
Montserrat is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based in Saint Lucia, one judge of the Supreme Court is a resident of the island and presides over the High Court)