Montserrat

Montserrat is a lush, mountainous island in the Caribbean Sea, located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles. It measures approximately 16 km long and 11 km wide, giving 40 km of coastline. Montserrat was given its name by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, after its namesake located in Catalonia, Spain. Montserrat is often referred to as the Emerald Island of the Caribbean, due both to its resemblance to coastal Ireland and to the Irish descent of most of its early European settlers.

Montserrat is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Its official name is the Crown Colony of Montserrat. Its Georgian-era capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and two-thirds of the island's population forced to flee abroad owing to the eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano that began on July 18, 1995. The eruption continues today on a much reduced scale, the damage being confined to the areas around Plymouth including its docking facilities and the former W.H. Bramble Airport. An exclusion zone, open during the day, extends from the south coast of the island north to parts of the Belham Valley and provides visitors with a spectacular view of the volcano and the destruction it has wrought upon the town. A new airport at Geralds in the northern part of the island opened in 2005.

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