PHYSICAL FEATURES: St. Vincent, like most of the Caribbean islands, is mountainous. A large mountain range running from north to south dominates the center of the island. This range forms a backbone from which are branched subsidiary ranges. The island has very little flat land. However, along the coastal edges one can find a few stretches of undulating land. The secondary mountain ranges extended all the way down to the Caribbean Sea on the west and to the Atlantic Ocean on the east. It is not uncommon to gaze up from the water at a perpendicular cliff face, the blunt end of a vigorous mountain range which has been checked only by the water.
A stream of fresh water runs in almost every valley. None of these streams, however, is navigable. The largest body of fresh water on the island is the crater lake of the volcano, La Soufrieré. The mountain rises steeply to a height of about four thousand feet, terminating in a gaping crater one mile wide. The water of the crater lies one thousand feet below the rim of the depression, thus forming the scenic view of a lake inside a mountain.
CLIMATE: St. Vincent is a tropical island, being only 13 ½° north of the equator. The mountains and valleys of the interior are covered with dense tropical forest of green-heart, gru-gru, and a host of other trees. The island has an average annual rainfall of about one hundred inches. This average rainfall is evenly experienced throughout the whole island. The temperature ranges from about 79° to 88° F. Because of the cooling influence of the northeast trade winds, the weather never becomes unbearably hot. The nights are rather cool during the month of December, while July and August are the hottest months.
POPULATION: The population of the island is mixed being made up of several races. There are Negroes who are in the majority. Their fore-parents were brought from Africa as slaves. There is a small percentage of East Indians who are descended from Indians who came to the island as indentured servants during the days of English colonization. There are also a few whites, the descendants of the early colonizers. Very few of the original people, the Caribs, remain. As a matter of fact, a pure Carib is hardly to be found on the island. The Caribs and Negroes intermarried, so that although there are people with distinct Carib features, yet they possess Negro genes. There are some people, also, who have come about as the result of a mixture of the different races.
The people of St. Vincent live mainly along the coast. However, there are some inland villages. The largest and capital city is Kingstown, situated on the southwestern coast. It is also the chief port having a large, spacious harbor. In former times ships were loaded and unloaded by lighters, but today they dock alongside a modern deepwater pier.
POLITICS: The island is self-governed. Today it is spoken of as a state in association with Britain. However, at the time when our first missionary arrived, it was considered simply as a colony of Britain. In those days there was a governing body comprised of local men who were elected by the people to serve for a certain term. However, there was also an administrator who was an appointee of the British government. This administrator was directly responsible to the British government for the affairs of the island. He was usually a foreigner. Today, the island is governed by a premier and ministers of the various areas of government. There is also a governor who must be sanctioned by the British government. This new arrangement bears a striking similarity to the old.
RELIGION: There are four major religious denominations on the island. The Church of England probably ranks first with the largest nominal membership. The Methodist and Catholic churches vie for second place, while the fourth largest group is the Spiritual Baptist. This group appeals to the uneducated and often illiterate people. Nevertheless, it is found in almost every village and town. Besides these larger groups, there are several other small denominations such as the Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, and others.
LANGUAGE: The island is English speaking. English is taught in all the schools and is also the language of commerce. However, in all the towns and villages one hears a local dialect rooted mainly in the English language. The people understand correct English, but there are many who cannot speak grammatical English. There are others who, though they both understand and speak polished English, still prefer to revert to the local dialect.