Welcome to "Isle of Spice" Grenada

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Nutmeg ice cream. Nutmeg cheesecake. Nutmeg sprinkled over rum punch. There's even a nutmeg rub that's supposed to cure the common cold. Grenadians are nothing if not resourceful with the spice. And that's understandable: They grow one-third of the world's nutmeg.

But although you'll see (and smell) plenty of the glossy brown nuts in Grenada, there's more to this country than spices. St. George's, the capital city, is one of the prettiest ports in the region. Pastel-colored houses with red-tiled roofs perch on green slopes overlooking the bay, which includes a lagoon that's actually the collapsed crater of an extinct volcano. Then there's the intensely blue lake atop the rain forest in Grand Etang Park.

All of the islands that make up this nation have the languid charm of the Caribbean as it used to be. Although resort developers have discovered Grenada, only a small stretch of beach is given over to them. The rest of Grenada feels very local rather than touristy. Grenada was badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, but most hotels and services -- including the new Melville Street Cruise Port Terminal -- are now functioning.

Carriacou and Petite Martinique -- the other two islands sometimes visited by travelers -- are especially enticing for those who find even the leisurely pace of Grenada too hectic. A windjammer-type cruise or a yacht trip through the area is a good option: These are some of the finest sailing waters in the world.

Area: 133 sq mi (344 sq km)

Population (2005 est.): 89,502 (growth rate 0.2%); birth rate: 22.3/1000; infant mortality rate: 14.6/1000; life expectancy: 64.5; density per sq mi: 674

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): St. George's, 4,300

Monetary unit: East Caribbean dollar

Language: English (official), French patois

Ethnicity/race: black 82%, mixed black and European 13%, European and East Indian 5%, and trace of Arawak/Carib Amerindian

Religions: Roman Catholic 53%, Anglican 13.8%, other Protestant 33.2%

Literacy rate: 90% (1970 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2002 est.): $440 million; per capita $5,000. Real growth rate: 2.5%. Inflation: 2.8% (2001 est.). Unemployment: 12.5% (2000). Arable land: 6%. Agriculture: bananas, cocoa, nutmeg, mace, citrus, avocados, root crops, sugarcane, corn, vegetables. Labor force: 42,300 (1996); services 62%, agriculture 24%, industry 14% (1999 est.). Industries: food and beverages, textiles, light assembly operations, tourism, construction. Natural resources: timber, tropical fruit, deepwater harbors. Exports: $46 million (2002 est.): bananas, cocoa, nutmeg, fruit and vegetables, clothing, mace. Imports: $208 million (2002 est.): food, manufactured goods, machinery, chemicals, fuel. Major trading partners: Germany, U.S., Bangladesh, Netherlands, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, France, Trinidad and Tobago, UK.

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