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Saint Vincent & the Grenadines - Enviornment

Saint Vincent & the Grenadines Environment

St Vincent, the northernmost island, is the country's commercial and political center, accounting for 90% of both the land area and population. The volcanic island is lush and green, its deep valleys cultivated with bananas, coconuts and arrowroot. The northern third of the island is dominated by a mountainous interior peaking at La Soufriè, a 4000ft (1200m) active volcano. Nearly year-round, the sharp peaks of northern St Vincent are shrouded by clouds formed by cool southwesterly tradewinds blowing moisture in from the Atlantic. Little of this rain gets past the mountains, keeping the southern two-thirds of the island much drier than the north. The Grenadines range from rocky volcanic headlands to tiny cays that barely break the surface of the water. The largest, Bequia, is only 7 sq miles (18 sq km); the smallest, the Tobago Cays, are a few acres each. Many are dry and scrub-covered, and few have any fresh water other than rainfall.

Most of the interior of St Vincent is tropical rainforest. The lowlands are thick with coconut trees and banana estates. The Mesopotamia Valley, northeast of Kingstown, has some of the island's most fertile farmland and luxuriant landscapes.

The national bird is the endangered St Vincent parrot, a multicolored Amazon parrot bird about 18in (45cm) long that lives in St Vincent's rainforests, as do numerous other tropical birds. The forest also provides a habitat for opossum (locally called manicou) and agouti, a short-haired rabbit-like rodent. St Vincent's three snake species, all harmless, include the Congo snake, which coils itself around tree branches.

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