DOMINICA

Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-eek-a) sits midway along the Eastern Caribbean archipelago, just a few miles from Martinique to the south and Guadeloupe to the north. Its location is 15 degrees North latitude and 61 degrees West longitude. 

The island's official name is the Commonwealth of Dominica, which is mostly referenced in official communiqué and to distinguish the island from its northerly Caribbean sister, the Dominican Republic. The indigenous Carib Indians named the island Waitukubuli which means "tall is her body" in the Carib language.

The island is sparsely populated with around 70,000 people inhabiting its 289.5 square miles. A significant portion of the population lives in and around the capital city, Roseau. Dominica is an arcadia of unspoiled nature. Tropical forest coats two thirds of the island, which nourishes 1,200 plant species. Rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls abound, fed by the islands high annual rainfall. Its volcanic physique points to extensive geothermal activity above and below sea level.  Morne Trois Pitons National Park was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Caribbean.

The island is one of only a couple in the Caribbean still with populations of the pre-Columbian Carib Indians. About 80% of the population is Roman Catholic.  English is the official language, spoken with a melodic French lilt, but a large portion of the population speaks Kwèyòl (Creole), with a few northern villages speaking Kokoy.

Dominica's rich culture comes from its mix of English, French, African, and Carib peoples. This is evident in our food, music, dance, language, and hospitality. English is the official language; however, because of historic French domination, the most widely spoken dialect is a French patois.

HISTORY

The island's indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Caribs in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493. Spanish ships frequently landed on Dominica during the 16th century, but fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged Spain's efforts at settlement.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained; rival expeditions of British and French foresters were harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.

Largely due to Dominica's position between Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a French settlement was established and grew.

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