|Official Country Name:||Montserrat|
|Region (Map name):||Caribbean|
Montserrat, a Caribbean island southeast of Puerto Rico, is in the process of rebuilding after volcanic eruptions began in 1995 and culminated in a catastrophic eruption in 1997. The Soufriere Hills volcano destroyed the southern half of the island, wiping out the airport and seaport and prompting as much as two-thirds of the population to flee to neighboring islands. The capital, Plymouth, was evacuated and, after being blanketed by volcanic ash, remains abandoned. Reconstruction efforts began in 1998, and slowly residents are returning to the area of the island called the "Safe North." The population in 2001 was approximately 7,600 and growing. The official language is English, and the estimated literacy rate is 97 percent. Montserrat is a British dependency, and the chief of state is the British Monarch, who appoints a local Governor. Heading the government is a Chief Minister, who presides over a unicameral, 11-seat Legislative Council. Rice milling, electronic component assembly, and tourism were once the island's economic mainstays, but they were largely wiped out by the volcano. The economy is beginning to bounce back thanks to millions of dollars in British aid. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest economic growth areas is construction.
As a British dependency, Montserrat enjoys the same press freedoms. There is currently no daily newspaper. Before the volcanic crisis, the island boasted a number of weekly newspapers but currently only The Montserrat Reporter remains. Founded in 1985, the The Montserrat Reporter began as an instrument of the National Development Party but is considered politically independent today. It appears every Friday, and its circulation is approximately 750. It is available online.
There are three radio stations on the island, one AM and two FM, serving 7,000 radios. A single television station broadcasts to 3,000 televisions. There are 17 Internet service providers.
e-Mail correspondence, Merrick Andrews, Montserrat Reporter journalist, .
"Media," Media Courier (1999). Available from http://www.mediacourier.net .
"Montserrat," CIA World Fact Book (2001). Available from http://www.cia.gov .
The Montserrat Reporter, (2002.) Home Page. Available from http://www.montserratreporter.org/ .
Jenny B. Davis