Looming large in the distance at 2829m, I stand tall over a small village. About 1,000 people live in the fertile plane that surrounds my peak, though the vineyards and fields that grow corn, beans and fruits are tattooed with smaller peaks and lava flows of varying age. I may appear quiet at the moment, but I most recently erupted in 1995 destroying much of the arable land and sending villagers fleeing for shelter elsewhere. The remote village is surrounded by sheer faces of what was believed to be a larger peak of 3,500m that crumbled into the ocean thousands of years ago. Far below the crater, there are villages and small cities around the island with a population totaling almost 40,000 inhabitants.
The 40,000 of my island, named for a particularly violent eruption in 1680, make up only about one fifth of the nation’s population. I am the fourth largest of the nine inhabited islands at 476km², the largest island at 991km² and the smallest, my closest neighbor, at 64km². The entire nation totals a hair over 4,000km². An old folktale says that the small chain of islands were the leftover flecks brushed off of god’s hands after creation, but my presence and persistent eruptions are clear evidence of volcanic hot spots. Unlike many other island nations, I was discovered and colonized before being populated. Until the early 1450’s, I was only known to migrating birds and nesting sea turtles.
Upon being discovered and colonized, the location of my country was found more lucrative than the few natural resources, largely salt and a few tropical crops- sugar cane, bananas and maize. A neighboring island is home to the first European outpost established in the tropics, recently named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Until the outlaw of slavery, my country saw many Africans brought to plantations and sold to ships to travel the rest of the way across the Atlantic. Do you know where I am?
This contest ended Feb 29, 2011
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