Last Updated: Tuesday, 06 October 2015, 08:57 GMT

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Montserrat : Overview

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 2007
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Montserrat : Overview, 2007, available at: [accessed 6 October 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Montserrat is one of the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. It is located in the Caribbean Sea southwest of Antigua and northwest of Guadeloupe. The island, is mountainous with a total area of 102 sq km and is subject to volcanic activity.


Main languages: English

Main religions: Christianity (Anglican)

The majority of the population of Montserrat is of African origin.


The original inhabitants of Montserrat were the indigenous Kalinago-Taino (Carib-Arawaks).

The territory was named 'Santa María de Montserrat'. by Columbus in 1493 after a namesake mountain in Catalonia, Spain.

Kalinago resistance kept most colonizers away for nearly 150 years until 1632 when Montserrat came under English control and a group of Irish fleeing anti-Catholic attitudes in Saint Kitts and Nevis were forcibly settled on the island.

As in the rest of the Caribbean thousands of Africans in chains were shipped in over the next two centuries to provide forced labour in a plantation economy based on sugar, rum, arrowroot and Sea Island cotton.

Montserrat later changed hands a few times until finally coming under British control in 1783. During the American War of Independence in 1782 Montserrat was briefly captured by France but was returned the following year to Britain under the Treaty of Versailles. From 1871 until 1956 Montserrat was administered as a part of the Leeward Islands group and in 1958 became a member of the short-lived Federation of the West Indies.

Following the dissolution of the federation in 1962, the residents voted to remain a dependency of Great Britain. The people of Montserrat were accorded full residency rights in the United Kingdom in 1998, and in 2002 were granted citizenship.


Montserrat is a British overseas territory. The monarch is represented by the Governor who administers the territory assisted by executive and legislative councils.

The main economic activity is farming and the climate and terrain has attracted a number of Canadian, British and US expatriates.

Current state of minorities and indigenous peoples

No minority or indigenous issues have been identified.

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