Resilient People Brave Powerful Forces of Nature
Part of the Leewards Island chain, volcanic activity is so prevalent on Montserrat that its capital city, Plymouth, was destroyed by lava after a series of devastating eruptions in the 1990s. Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1493, but it did not become a colony until the English settled it in 1632. An enormous slave market resulted in a population that to this day is of predominantly African descent. Montserrat is home to several critically endangered species of wildlife.
Catastrophic eruptions closed Montserrat's airport and seaport, leading to economic isolation and decline. But in 2004, a new airport was opened in 2005. The population is struggling to regain its once-thriving tourist economy, which is being made possible by foreign aid and investment. Thanks to rebuilt telecommunications infrastructure, the country's telephone system is modern and reliable, with 100 percent teledensity when both fixed-line and mobile subscriptions are included.