St Vincent is generally stated to have been discovered on St Vincent's day, the 22nd of January 1498 by Columbus. Its Carib inhabitants, however, remained undisturbed for many years. In 1627 Charles I granted the island to the earl of Carlisle; in 1672 it was re-granted to Lord Willoughby, having been previously (1660) declared neutral. In 1722 a further grant of the island was made to the duke of Montague, and now for the first time a serious effort at colonization was made, but the French insisted on the maintenance of neutrality, and this was confirmed by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapehle (1748). In 1762, however, General Monckton captured the island; the treaty of Paris in 1763 confirmed the British possession, and settlement proceeded in spite of the refusal of the Caribs to admit British sovereignty. Recourse was had to arms, and in 1773 a treaty was concluded with them, when they were granted lands in the north of the island as a reserve. In 1779 the island was surrendered to the French, but it was restored to Britain by the treaty of Versailles (1783). In 1795 the Caribs rose, assisted by the French, and were only put down after considerable fighting by Sir Ralph Abercromby in 1796, after which the majority of them were deported.
The emancipation of slaves in the island took place in 1838. The ensuing labour shortage resulted in the importation of Portuguese labourers from 1846. These were joined by East Indian 'coolies' in 1861.
A Crown Colony government was installed in 1877, a Legislative Council created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage granted in 1951. During this period, the British made several unsuccessful attempts to affiliate St. Vincent with other Windward Islands in order to govern the region through a unified administration. The most notable was the West Indies Federation, which collapsed in 1962.
St Vincent suffered hurricanes, volcanic activity and earthquakes throughout its history.
St Vincent and the Grenadines became independent in 1979.