And So, Part 2

On April 20, 2016 · 7 Comments

I found such a wealth of information about the six national names split by the conjunction "AND" that I had to divide them into two articles. The first article covered Antigua and Barbuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. This one will finish the remaining nations, continuing in alphabetical order. Once again I wanted to focus extra attention on the junior partner, the unfortunate geography at the trailing end of each arrangement.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Bequia by Ian Mackenzie on Flickr (cc)

Another conjoined arrangement, another Caribbean nation, this one found far down the chain of the Windward Islands. The native Caribs protected Saint Vincent fiercely and blocked colonization until the Eighteenth Century. Meanwhile they accepted escaped African slaves who sought refuge from nearby islands such as Barbados, Saint Lucia and Grenada. Their intermingled descendants, the Black Caribs, bedevil European colonists for decades. French, British and Black Caribs all fought for control. Revolts by Black Caribs remained common and frequent even after Britain gained the upper hand. It was a mess. The French shifted their focus to Martinique instead.

Speaking of messes, the Grenadines didn’t fall entirely within Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Grenadines needed to be tagged onto a larger entity because they wouldn’t be viable as nation on their own. They were too small and spread across a long string of ocean. It might have made sense to collect all of the Grenadines together — and the British made attempts over the years — although it just never happened. Thus, when independence came in 1979, the upper two-thirds of the Grenadines became an integral part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the remainder joined Grenada to the south. Someone living on the island of Carriacou in the Grenadines, for example, lived in Grenada, not Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Fortunately Grenada didn’t call itself Grenada and the Grenadines because that would have created even more confusion.

The Grenadines portion of the nation retained a smaller population with only about ten thousands residents, or ten percent of the overall national population. About half of those live on the island of Bequia (map). The remainder were spread amongst four other populated islands and two privately-owned resort islands.

São Tomé and Príncipe

Nobody lived on the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe when Portuguese navigators stumbled upon them in the Gulf of Guinea off the western coast of Africa. Portugal thought those unclaimed, uninhabited islands would make an ideal offshore base for commercial relationships with the continent. They colonized both islands during the Sixteenth Century and it became a cornerstone of their slave trade. The nation has remained a relatively stable democracy much of the time since gaining independence in 1975. It was also one of the smallest African nations with only a couple of hundred thousand citizens.

Príncipe (map) was much smaller than São Tomé and it had only about five thousand residents. The name came from the Portuguese word for Prince, specifically Prince Afonso, son of King John II, named for his grandfather King Afonso V. He was the heir apparent to the Portuguese throne although he didn’t live long enough to become its king. Prince Afonso died in a horse riding accident in 1491, still in his teens.

Trinidad and Tobago

Great Courland Bay after the storm
Great Courland Bay after the storm by Celeste Layne on Flickr (cc)

It seemed odd that FOUR of the nations included on the list had been Caribbean colonies of the British Empire: Antigua and Barbuda; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and finally Trinidad and Tobago, rounding out the set. Clearly the British found it convenient to cluster island possessions into groups so they could be governed more efficiently.

Trinidad and Tobago took a different twist. Both islands had been well established with their own distinctive histories, just off the northern coast Venezuela. Trinidad had roots as a Spanish colony before Britain seized the island in the late Eighteenth Century. Tobago, on the other hand, traded hands almost more times than could be counted. Colonies on Tobago were established, captured, destroyed, rebuilt, and recaptured with alarming frequency, by several different European powers including Spain, England, France and the Netherlands. There was also another player, one I never knew about, the Courlanders. Often it was the Dutch and Courlanders who tussled over Tobago.

The Courlanders came from the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, an area now found in Latvia (map). They seemed like an unlikely power, and yet the Courlanders maintained a great merchant fleet that sailed around the world. The Duchy traded extensively in the New World too. Tobago was their attempt to establish a formal colony in the Caribbean. They tried numerous times and ultimately failed along a section of the island that bears its name, Great Courland Bay (map).

Tobago eventually got grafted to Trinidad only because of economic reasons. The British Empire site explained:

The 1880s was to confirm that the old plantocracy was indeed in trouble. The price of sugar had continued to drop… 1884 shocked the economy of the island when its largest employer and landowner ceased trading… The British sought to ameliorate the situation by administratively joining Tobago to the larger island of Trinidad to its south. This southwards move was intended to ensure that Britain avoided taking on debt and expensive provisions for Tobago and transferring the liability to the colony of Trinidad.

That arrangement remained in place when independence was granted in 1962, and it remains Trinidad and Tobago today.

On April 20, 2016 · 7 Comments

7 Responses to “And So, Part 2”

  1. KCJeff says:

    Great article! You named 4 of it’s former colonies – but what about the parent company? – The United Kingdom of Great Britain AND Northern Ireland.

    Although not country’s we have 2 here in Anglo-America; Newfoundland and Labrador & Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

  2. Tor Lillqvist says:

    No mention of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? What does the left-hand-side of the ‘and’ refer to (and conversely, what does the ‘united’ refer to)?

    • Calgully says:

      As I understand it, Britain is the island on which England, Wales and Scotland sits and I believe Great Britain includes that plus assorted offshore islands like the IOM, Channel Islands, Orkney and Shetland etc. But the Nation is more than that – it includes the Northern part of the island or Ireland – hence the AND.

    • Steve Spivey says:

      Great Britain refers to the island that contains England, Scotland, and Wales. Despite the Welsh and Scots refusing to refer to themselves as “British”.

    • January First-of-May says:

      IIRC, Britain is England plus Wales, and Great Britain includes Scotland. But I’ve also heard the “Britain is the island, Great Britain includes the assorted other islands” version; not sure which is correct. (EDIT: apparently neither – the “Great” is for better distinction from the French region of Brittany, which has the same etymology.)
      Ironically, the Welsh (and, to a letter extent, Scots) have a much better claim to the term “British” than the English do (the land was already named “Britannia”, for a local Celtic tribe, well before the Anglo-Saxons and company invaded in the 5th century).

      As for the United Kingdom part, for a while (most of the 18th century) there were (legally) separate kingdoms of Great Britain and of Ireland, which just happened to always have the same ruler. So when the kingdoms were officially joined in the early 1800s, the resulting nation was named the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Ireland). Then the “Ireland” part was amended to “Northern Ireland” when the rest of Ireland went away to its own country.

      • Rhodent says:

        Here’s the breakdown as I understand it:

        In 1155, the reigning King of England was named Lord of Ireland by the Pope, although it was several centuries before the King of England actually controlled the entire island. In 1542, the Irish parliament declared the reigning King of England to be the King of Ireland as well, although it would still be a few decades before the King of England/Ireland exercised full control over the island.

        In 1606, the King of Scotland became the King of England (and thus also the King of Ireland) as he was first in line to the throne after the death of the previous monarch.

        In 1707, the parliaments of the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland both passed acts which merged the two into a single country which was variously called the Kingdom of Great Britain, United Kingdom of Great Britain, or United Kingdom, although apparently its official name was simply Great Britain. Ireland was still a separate country at this point.

        In 1800, the parliaments of the (United?) Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland both passed acts which merged the two into a single country whose official name was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

        In 1916 Ireland declared independence, which the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland recognized in 1922. At this point the latter became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

        As for what, precisely, “Great Britain” refers to: “Great Britain” is generally understood to be the name of the island on which the majority of England, Scotland, and Wales are located. But within the context of the country’s name, it would seem to refer to the land which had been part of either the Kingdom of England or the Kingdom of Scotland prior to 1707, which would include many (but not all) of the smaller islands around the island of Great Britain.

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