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The Leeward Islands are a member state in the East Caribbean Federation. They are on the inner ring of the Lesser Antilles, at the far north of the island chain. It shares maritime borders with Guadeloupe in the south, Antigua and Barbuda in the east, and the Virgin Islands in the east. St. Martin and the Leeward Netherlands Antilles are located between the borders of the individual Leeward Islands. The island nation covers an area of 454 sq km. Its capital is located at Basseterre, on the island of St. Kitts.
Prior to Doomsday, many of the British oversea territories were experiencing periods of change. Anguilla, long associated with St. Kitts and Nevis, had recently been allowed to become a fully separate colony, apart from the two larger islands. Montserrat was experience a strong economic boom, associated with the opening of the legendary Montserrat AIR recording studio. The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, meanwhile, had gained independence only days before, on 19 September 1983, and was in the process of transitioning into a fully independent government.
As in the rest of the Caribbean, Doomsday ushered in mass economic chaos for the British islands. Anguilla, highly dependent on a British-supplied budget and imports, fell into complete chaos. To make matters worse, the Anguillan economy was based off of offshore financial services. Alone and facing crisis, Chief Minister Ronald Webster instituted a broad state of emergency, including severe food and energy rationing.
St. Kitts and Nevis were caught completely unawares, having just taken on independence from the United Kingdom. Calls went up immediately to seek re-admission as an overseas territory. The British government, however, was ominously silent, and the idea was abandoned. The government urged calm, and an emergency session of Parliament was called to best determine how to steer the fledgling nation through the greatest of crises.
Montserrat, though experiencing an rash of good fortune, could not stave off Doomsday. The collapse of Northern Hemisphere culture dried up business for the Montserrat AIR recording studio, taking with it all of the business associated with it. Chief Minister Daniel Osbourne met with local leaders in an emergency session, where strict rationing was implemented.
Trade And Co-Dependence
Without support from Britain and without a firm agricultural base, Anguilla and Montserrat were desperate for foreign aid. They sought the assistance of their nearest British neighbour, St. Kitts and Nevis. With a more firm agricultural basis, the island federation provided relief aid to the two islands, helping them to subsist. Anguilla, in particular, was almost entirely dependent on imports from St. Kitts.
By agreement, the island on Montserrat began to develop a large portion of their land for agriculture, stretching from the northwest to the south. Irrigation, soil replenishment, and fertilization helped to create a larger arable region. The same techniques were put into place on St. Kitts and Nevis, on a smaller scale, in order to widen the food base. Anguilla was excluded from the effort, mostly due to the fact that its soil was far too arid and sparse to support agriculture.
As situations stabilized around the globe, reports began to trickle in about the wider Caribbean. By mid-May of 1984, the majority of governments in the region had been contacted. Cordial relationships were established with the British islands in the south, as well as the nearby Virgin Islands. A few chains of supplies were established. Contact with the closer French and Dutch island governments were notably frostier, but still polite.
In early 1985, after two years of complete dependence on St. Kitts and Nevis, the provisional government of Anguilla held a referendum on joining the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. The vote was closely contested, for an Anguillan referendum, but eventually it produced a 'yes' result, at a ratio of 62% for and 38% against. Over the next few months, Anguilla was integrated into St. Kitts, which was renamed to St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla.
Montserrat, though indebted to the new federation, held on to its independence for longer than Anguilla. The closing of the Montserrat AIR studio, however, proved to be a big enough economic blow that, seeing the fortunes of Anguillans improve within months of integration, the people of Montserrat desired unfettered access to the growing berth of resource and capital the federation possessed. In a landslide referendum, Montserratians approved joining with St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. To avoid becoming unnecessarily long, the name of the federation was changed to the Leeward Islands.
The Anguillan Project
In the spring of 1986, a number of financial and scientific leaders came together in Basseterre to discuss an ambitious plan; the transformation of the island of Anguilla. The growing population of the Leeward Islands was a problem, due to the amount of land required for agricultural subsistence, a strong priority of the islands. Though they exchanged modest trade with the British islands to the south, Doomsday had shaken confidence in foreign reliance for many islanders, and they sought to remove themselves from it as much as possible.
As Anguilla had soil utterly unsuitable for agriculture, it was proposed that the island be aggressively pushed as a place of residence. If most infrastructural and building development was focused into the small island, it would become a more appealing place for citizens to relocate within the federation, while more land could be devoted to livestock rearing and crop growing on the more arable islands.
Cautious at first, leading business leaders began to fund exploratory business in the city, basing a small number of factories on the small island and relocating corporate headquarters. The resultant shift in service industries and population was modest, but a promising result. They soon found themselves in private audience with members of government, discussing the implications of their findings.
The East Caribbean Federation
In 1989, following the hurricane that destroyed a large portion of Montserrat's infrastructure, the people of the Leeward Islands petitioned to join the East Caribbean Federation. Strength in numbers proved to be a popular ideal among the islanders, and strains of Pan-Caribbean fervour began to emergence in the Leewards.
Though it was a given that the East Caribbean federation would benefit greatly by the inclusion of the Leeward Islands. What was widely debated, however, was the manner in which the islands would be included. The splitting of the islands into individual states was discussed and debated. The smaller Leewards, Anguilla and Montserrat, were particularly against the proposal, benefiting as they did from the economy of the larger islands.
Eventually, it was decided that separating the islands would be intractable to the economies of the smaller islands, and the member states of the East Caribbean Federation voted to integrate the Leeward Islands as a single, unified member. They were officially inducted into the Federation on 1 December 1989.
The Leeward Islands, incorporated into the growing Eastern Caribbean Federation, benefited from the currency and customs union, as well as the cultural osmosis resulting from the emerging Angolphone bloc in the Caribbean. Nevis, in particular, became a primarily agricultural island, with a sparse population of farming communities. These communities, however, were well supported by the government, with a fair portion of government funds being funnelled into infrastructure and building projects for farm-towns.
Supplied by the crop from Nevis, Anguilla began to boom. By 1992, the population of Valley, Anguilla's prime city, was up to five thousand, nearly five times its population in 1983. Fishing business was growing slowly, with quota strictly regulated by the government. Manufacturing, meanwhile, was experience a great amount of growth, with a wide array of domestic products like canned food, books, and cigarettes being produced on the island.
In 2002, the ruling Island Conservative Party was supplanted, losing their minority government to the previously underestimated Social Democratic Party, who claimed a strong majority. Martin Schuler, the leader of the SDP, was appointed as Prime Minister. A great supporter of the so-called 'Anguilla' project, he threw government support behind it, as well as advocating a number of infrastructure projects designed to generate jobs and industry across the islands.
In 1995, the volcano at Soufriere Hill, Montserrat erupted suddenly, coming out of its previously dormant state. Though there had been slight warnings from time to time, the scale of the destruction took everyone by surprise. Dozens of residents died in the initial incident, and about half of the population moved to other islands in the Leewards. The rest relocated to the north-west of Montserrat, the only habitable part left on the island. The volcano is currently being monitored, even as salvage and reclaimation operations are being conducted in the exclusion zone.
As a result of this and economics, by 2012, the city of Valley had around 17,000 residents, making it the second largest city in the Leeward Islands, smaller than only Basseterre.
The Leeward Islands are a parliamentary republic and a member state in the East Caribbean Federation. Their parliament holds twenty seats, each representing approximately five thousand citizens. There are four political parties that hold seats in the Leeward Parliament: the Social Democratic Party, a socialist-leaning left-of-centre party; the Island Conservative Party, a right-of-centre organization; the Leeward Workers' Party, a centrist pro-union party; and the Leeward Christian Party, an ultra-right party based off of Christian principles.
The government is currently formed by the Social Democratic Party, which holds twelve seats in parliament. The official opposition is a coalition of the ICP and the LWP, who hold four and three seats, respectively. The LCP holds only one seat, and has declined to join the opposition coalition. The government is lead by Prime Minister Martin Schuler, while the opposition is led by Nicole Williams.
The economy of the Leeward Islands is strong and robust. Relative to its size, its agricultural and fishing sector is very large. It provides base-level domestic subsistence, with enough left over for significant export capacity, primarily to other ECF nations. It trades primarily in coconuts, cereal crops, and fruit orchids, as well as a number of coastal fish and crab.
The manufacturing sector, focused on Anguilla, is very profitable. It mostly focuses on technical equipment, creating components and assembled products for scientific and medical purposes. A good deal of energy scientists are based in Anguilla, and clean energy infrastructure projects have contributed a good number of jobs to the islands in recent years.
As a member state of the East Caribbean Federation, the Leeward Islands have no formal military of their own. They have access to the forces of the East Caribbean Federation navy for their defence, with the nearest military installation being a naval base on the island of Antigua.