Saint Vincent and the Grenadines celebrates Independence Day on 27 October, looking back to the day in 1979 when the country gained full autonomy from the UK.
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The islands were long inhabited by Amerindian tribes, but they were first sighted by Europeans when Columbus sailed by in 1498. The Caribs continued to live on the islands and fiercely resisted all settlement attempts, which were few and feeble anyway for centuries.
Long disputed among Spain, France, and Britain, Britain gained rights to the islands in the Treaty of Versailles in 1783 and soon began settling them. An economy based on sugar plantations, slave labour, and the slave trade emerged during the 1800s. In the mid-1800s, slavery was abolished.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was a part of the UK’s Federation of the West Indies for a time, but that entity was dissolved in 1962. In 1969, it gained limited self-government, meaning only over its internal affairs. Finally, on 27 October 1979, full independence was granted by the UK after a referendum indicated this as the islanders’ wishes.