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Like many of the Caribbean islands, the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus first sailed by Montserrat in 1493. However, he did not settle on this island or even set foot. However, before Columbus and his fellow Spanish settlers arrived, the islands were inhabited by the Saladoid Amerindians, Arawaks and Caribs tribes which were indigenous Amerindian tribes. These tribes named the island Alliouagana, "Land of the prickly bush" because there was an abundance of natural aloe on this island. These indians lived in tents, hunted wild game caught fish and planted root crops. While Arawaks were generally peaceful, the Caribs were known for violence and brawn. Regardless, Columbus named Montserrat after “Santa Maria de Montserrat” which a beautiful big mountain near Barcelona, Spain.
In 1632, the English gained control of the island over the Spanish. Irish Catholics came from St. Kitts fleeing religious persecution. Also, when the English had defeated the Irish, they forced them to the island of Montserrat to serve as indentured servants. Thus the population was a mix of British, Irish and West African.
As with majority of other Caribbean islands, Montserrat was reliant on plantation economy for its sugar production beginning in the 17 th century. This economy was reliant on African slaves from the 1600s to 1834. In 1834-1840, slavery was abolished on this island (a grand event that is celebrated today by "Carnival") which very much changed the structure of Montserrat's economy.
In 1871 to 1958, Monserrat was part of the Leeward Islands, run by the English. To this day, the English retain control of the island. A cool fun Brit pop fact is that the producer of the Beatles, George Martin, lived on the island in 1970s, attracting recording artists from all over the world to relax and record on the island’s lush grounds.
However recently Montserrat has not been its usual island paradise. In 1989, the locals of Montserrat had to buckle down under the power of Hurricane Hugo, which devastated the economy, ruined local homes and businesses, and slowed the tourism trade. Then in 1997,27th of June, there was a huge eruption of Montserrat’s volcano, which completely annihilated the capital, Plymouth, forced majority of the population to evacuate and closed all its airports. Even today, the southern section of the island is forbidden territory. More than 2/3 of the island’s past population left the island after this eruption. Montserrat is still in the process of rebuilding and recovering from this tragedy.