Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a 340 sq. km. (130 sq. mi.) state made up of a main island, Saint Vincent as well as 32 smaller islands, the Grenadines, the largest of which are Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, and Union. Some of the smaller islands are privately owned.
St. Vincent was granted associate statehood status in 1969, giving it complete control over its internal affairs. Following a referendum in 1979, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is ranked 87th in the 2005 human development index of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which places the country in the “medium human development” band (UN, 2005).
After experiencing a high GDP growth average during 1995-2000, the economy contracted in 2001 due to the effects of September 11th attack and the global economic slowdown, and started rebounding in 2002. Growth was largely driven by construction in the tourism sector. On the other hand, the agricultural sector contracted in the face of continued uncertainty surrounding the EU banana regime and adverse weather conditions. Total disbursed outstanding public debt grew at an average annual rate of 8.6% between 1999 and 2005 and at the end of December 2005 had almost reached the EC$1 billion mark.
GDP is made of agriculture (10.5%), industry (25.2%), manufacturing (5.3%) and services, including tourism (64.3%). The country has become the main supplier of arrowroot flour to Canada and the US. Fisheries and manufacturing production have also expanded. In 2003, GDP per capita was estimated at USD 3,309.