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Sadly, Montserrat--long known as the "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean"--has not yet recovered from the devastating natural disasters that have hit the island since 1989. First, Hurricane Hugo damaged or destroyed 90% of the island's buildings in 1989, causing as much as $300 million in financial losses. The island's tourism, a primary source of income, has never recovered; the storm also caused the apparent extinction of the indigenous bat "species Chiroderma improvisum." The island's capital, Plymouth, and the nearby airport were destroyed during the Soufriere Hills volcanic eruption of 1995; a resulting flow of lava caused further damage in 2010. More than one-half of the island's population (of about 13,000) were forced to leave Montserrat and most have never returned. (The estimated population in 2008 was less than 6000). The town of Brades has served as the temporary capital until the new seat of government in Little Bay is completed. Montserrat's recovery continues, however.
... most of Montserrat remains lush and green. A new airport at Gerald's in the north (renamed the John A. Osborne Airport in 2008) was opened officially by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal in February 2005. Docking facilities are in place at Little Bay, where the new capital is being constructed.
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