Montserrat, Or Monserrat, one of the smallest of the British West India islands, belonging to the Leeward group, nearly equidistant, or about 30 m., from the islands of Nevis, Antigua, and Guadeloupe; lat. of the N. point, 16° 50' N., Ion. 62° 20' W.; area, 47 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 8,693, of whom scarcely more than 150 were white. About two thirds of the island is mountainous and barren, but the remainder, at the base of the mountain slopes, is fruitful and well watered. The soil is of a light volcanic description. The principal crop is sugar, the export of which in 1870 was 3,382,200 lbs.; in 1871, 3,403,800 lbs.; and in 1872, 2,773,800 lbs. The E. side of the island is mostly uncultivated, covered with high mountains producing cedar and other useful and valuable trees; on the W. side the land slopes toward the sea. The climate is healthy. In 1872 the value of the imports from the United Kingdom was £27,677, and of the exports to it £29,736. The trade is mainly with other British West India islands. The chief town is Plymouth, on the S. W. coast; it is small, but neat, and the houses are well built of fine gray stone.
The government is administered by a president, under the governor-in-chief of the Leeward group, assisted by an executive council and a representative assembly. - This island was discovered by Columbus in 1493. In 1632 a party of Irish Roman Catholics from a neighboring island settled on it; and after a French invasion in 1664 it was restored to Britain by the treaty of Breda on July 20, 1667. It was again seized by the French in 1782, and finally made over to England by the treaty of Versailles, Sept. 3, 1783. On March 30, 1872, Montserrat, Antigua, St. Christopher, Nevis, the Virgin Islands, and Dominica were constituted a single colony under one governor-in-chief. Previously the island had a separate government, consisting of a lieutenant governor or president, and a single chamber styled the legislative council.