- This territory is part of the Altverse universe
Overseas Territory of Mariana
Anthem: Marcha Real
Map of Bequia|
Map of Bequia
and largest city
|Recognised regional languages||English|
|Helene of Mariana|
• President of Marigalante
|18 km2 (6.9 sq mi)|
• 2015 estimate
|Drives on the||right|
|Calling code||+1 627|
|ISO 3166 code||MA|
Bequia (/ˈbɛkwiː/ or /ˈbɛkweɪ/) is an overseas territory of Mariana. The territory is comprised of the island of Bequia, (Isle Cuatro), and the uninhabited Little Nevis and Piegon Islands. Bequia has an area of 19.87 km², and a population of around 4300. Isabel (Puerto Isabel) is the main city in the territory. Bequia means "island of the clouds" in the ancient Arawak. The native population are primarily a mixture of people of African, Marianan and Island Carib descent.
Caribs and Arawaks used the island for fishing and farming. Bequia was likely visited by Spanish and Portuguese explorers. It was claimed for Spain in 1620. Sugar and whaling were important industries in the 17th-19th centuries, now supplanted by tourism.
In 1621 an expedition from Marigalante came to colonize Bequia, with 15 settlers from Marigalante and 20 slaves. In July 1623 the government took control over the island, with Juan Antonio Luna (1572-1624) appointed the first governor. Puerto Isabel was settled around this time.
Former militaryman Antonio de Belalcázar (1575-1639) was named governor, and he oversaw the development of Puerto Isabel and construction of the docks on Isabel Bay. The governor was later revealed (in the 1920s) to have been in collusion with pirates, giving them refuge on the island in exchange for money, which some subsequent governors would also do. Belalcázar died in 1639, some say while at his outhouse shitting.
In 1715, the pirate Basque Jack (Jose Lazcano) set up base in Bequia, where, aided by locals he was able to raid numerous ships, drawing the ire of the Dutch, British and Marianans. Famously in 1718 he captured a ship carrying the payroll for Bequia and Marigalante, was arrested that year, escaped from jail and would later be hanged in 1719. The famous pirate Edward Teach was also said to have a base in Bequia. Indeed in November 1717 the governor in Marigalante ordered a boat to chase after said pirate, but was unable to locate him.
The early 18th century saw the development of a sugar industry and the production of related products including molasses and rum. Other major produce included coffee, indigo and arrowroot.
During the Seven Years' War it was taken over by France, but was occupied by the British until 1779, where it was won back by Spain. From the 1770s, the authorities began enticing indigent Anglo-Americans to come to Bequia for farming; one such farmer was the father of prominent Anglo-American patriot Alexander Hamilton.
In 1820 slavery became officially banned in Spain, but due to political ambitions in Europe, did not apply to the colonies, where the only slaves were present.Slavery was formally ended in 1853 by the new Marianan crown.
In 1906, the right to vote was extended to Marianan citizens of the colonies, but unlike Marigalante no colonial legislature was implemented, though in 1910 Bequians were allowed to elect their own governor to represent the island, a unique move. James Cosgrove (1858-1926) was elected the first governor.
Bequians were subject to being conscripted following Mariana's entry in World War I in 1915, but no troops ever fought in the war. Sixteen Bequians served as reservist soldiers during the war years, with the unit disbanding in 1918.
Following World War II, the government under the Prime Minister passed laws that abolished the colonies and established overseas territories in their stead in 1951. Bequia created a parliament that year, and the first elections were held on 15 November that year, where Fernando Rojas Holliday (1900-1997) became the first President of the Parliament, in essence head of government. Rojas Holliday largely won his votes as he was a main benefactor to the church and was backed by the wealthy, but he did very little to advance the lives of the majority of (mostly poor) Bequians. He would head a government after the 1955 and 1959 elections, but each time his conservative block won with less votes.
The 1963 elections saw the appearance of political parties, with the Christian Democratic Union and Social Democratic Party both contesting. The SDP took a majority of the votes and Heriberto Marcels (1907-1971) replaced Holliday. Tourism infrastructure was developed under the Marcels government, as well as helping to improve the lives of most locals through the first social welfare laws, passed in 1964-66. Marcels would continue after the 1967 election, but his rampant spending led to the local government nearly bankrupt in 1970. 1971 saw the CDU take power, and under Eusebio Horton (1922-2005) cut back on unnecessary spending, increased income and property taxes by 0,5 percent, and to attract more tourism declared the island a duty-free port for goods. Horton served for four terms until 1987, the longest ever for a president.
In 2015, the SDP was elected into power, with Clarisa Harrow (1962-) being the first female president.
In 2017 Bequia announced they would send a group of doctors to assist hurricane victims in Marigalante and Desiry.
Municipalities in Bequia
Bequia consists of one village, Port Elisabeth, and nine localities. Of note is the locality of Diamond, that with 8 inhabitants in the least populous settlement in the Kingdom of Mariana.
|Hacienda El Parque||54|
Bequia Friendship Airport serves as the island's airport. With a runway length of 3,609 feet (1,100 metres), Bequia can be reached by plane with daily connections from Bridgetown, Barbados and Kingstown, Saint Vincent. Ferries carry passengers to and from other islands in the Grenadines, Saint Vincent, Marigalante and elsewhere.
Bequia is an overseas territory of Mariana, and thus not integrally a part of Mariana proper. It is not a member of the European Union, being classified under "overseas countries and territories", for which special provisions apply. Through membership in the EU-OCT Association it receives a number of benefits from the EU.
Bequians, interestingly, are EU citizens; no "Bequian citizenship" exists, and being Marianan entails being an EU citizen as well.
Since 1951, a Bequian Parliament has existed as the island's legislature. The parliament consists of ten seats. Unlike in Marigalante, there are no Bequian political parties, with politicians as members of Marianan political parties. prior to the mid-1960s political parties did not exist, with only a broad Christian conservative group and a social leftist one. Marianan-educated politicians brought Marianan parties to Bequia in the 1960s. The CDU, SDP and FLP are the largest parties, with either the SDP or CDU heading governments. The newest party to come to Bequia is the Socialist Left Party, which has never received more than one seat.
The current government is composed of 5 SDP, 3 CDU, 1 FLP and 1 SLP.
As opposed to Marigalante, there is little support for or discussion regarding changes to Bequia's status, and during discussions in Marigalante the major parties stated they support the status quo.
Tourism forms a significant portion of the Bequian economy. The modern tourism industry began to kick off in the post-WWII period, primarily from 1963. Most Galantians are in some way tied to the tourism industry through work, either directly or indirectly.
Bequia is one of the few places in the world where limited whaling is still allowed by the International Whaling Commission. Locals have been able to catch up to four whales per year using traditional methods, but there has been considerable opposition to Bequia's whaling, considering the locals who fish are not indigenous. As of 2016 there is a moratorium on whaling.
In the early colonial days, Spanish reales were the commonly-used currency, with the coins being able to be cut into halves, quarters, eighths to suit local needs. Once the Spanish colonies became independent and the coinage began to be scarce, Mexican reales, United States dollars and French caribbean francs all widely circulated.
In 1885 the government founded the Currency Board for the Colonies, in charge of overseeing financial matters in Bequia and Marigalante. The first colonial lira banknotes were issued in 1889, replacing the Mexican real at 2 lira per real. First coins for overseas territories were minted in 1921, but only a few thousand were issued each year in 1921-22, and no more than 800 for 1923-25. A larger coinage series was minted from 1929-1937, and from 1948 to 1956.
Unlike in Mariana, the lira was not redenominated, thus needing 1000 colonial lira for one Marianan lira; thus the highest not in use became 10000 lira.
The CBC was reorganized in 1951 as the Currency Board for the Overseas Territories. In a 2001 referendum, 72% of voters were in favor of adopting the euro, to better facilitate trade with its direct neighbor, Guadeloupe and other Caribbean islands.
Bequia's culture is a colorful mixture of English Caribbean and Spanish Marianan culture. Spanish is commonly used as the official language, but many locals speak English or an English patois. Many people still have English family names, and in the past it was not uncommon to see English first names for people.
- 12 April: Basque Jack Day
- 9 July: Independence Day
- 15 November: Bequia Day
Bequia has a primary school, Juan Luna Primary School, and a secondary school, Eusebio Horton College.
|Kingdom of Mariana|
|Government||Monarchy (Queen Helene) • Prime Minister • Congress of Deputies (House • Senate)|
Judiciary (Supreme Court • Constitutional Court • Judicial Courts • Regional Courts • Municipal Courts)
|Marigalante||Settlements (Capesterre • Grand Anse • Grand-Bourg • Little Anse • Marigot • St. Louis • Terre de Haut Town) • Government (President • Parliament of Marigalante)|
|Settlements (Diamond • Fernando's Hideaway • Friendship • La Pompe • Paget Farm • Park Estate • Port Elisabeth • Saint Hilary • Spring Estate) • Government (President of the Parliament • Bequian Parliament • Pink House) • Education (Martin Paget Primary School • Eustatius Horton College)|
|Settlements (Beausejour • Headley • Mowalt • South Side) • Government (Mayor of Desiry • Municipal government) • Education (Justus Pinckney Primary School • Princess Marianne College)|