Montserrat belongs to a group of islands known as the Leeward Islands which are part of the Lesser Antilles island chain. Other islands in the group include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Guadeloupe, St Kitts and Nevis, the British Virgin Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.
The highest point in Montserrat is Chances Peak (914 m) in the Soufriere Hills volcanic complex.
The first recorded name for Montserrat was "Alliouagana" given by the Carib people. It is thought that the name was derived from a prickly bush growing on the island.
Christopher Columbus, said to be born in Italy, but in the service of Spain, was the first European to sight the island of "Montserrat".
Columbus named Montserrat after a monastery near Barcelona in Spain (1493).
The British colonized the island of Montserrat in 1632.
Early European colonists to Montserrat included Irish settlers. Montserrat is known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean which refers to its links with Ireland.
Montserrat was invaded by the French in 1664, 1667 and 1782.
The Treaty of Versailles returned the island of Montserrat to Britain in 1783.
The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act (1807) prohibited the slave trade within the British Empire. (Slaves in the British colonies did not gain their freedom until the 1830s. The 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act began the process leading to emancipation).
Montserrat was a member of the Leewards Island Colony from 1871 to 1956 and a member of the Federation of the West Indies from 1958 to 1962.
In 1989 Hurricane Hugo caused widespread damage on Montserrat.
Much of the island was devastated when the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted in July 1995.
The Chances Peak eruption (Soufriere Hills) in 1995 was the first time the volcano had erupted for three hundred and fifty years.
Volcanic eruptions in Montserrat occurred again in June 1997, July 2001 and July 2003.
As a result of the volcanic activity, Plymouth, the island's capital, became uninhabitable and was abandoned.
Following the volcanic eruptions, many people left Montserrat moving to other Caribbean islands, the USA and the UK.
The Montserrat Volcano Observatory was established after the first eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano in July 1995.
The island of Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory.