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Dominica

Map Courtesy CIA World Factbook

The Commonwealth of Dominica which geographically lies between two overseas departments or "territories" of France: Guadeloupe to the North, and Martinique to the South, Dominica is sometimes referred to as "French Dominica" or by the nickname "The Nature Isle of the Caribbean" due to its seemingly unspoiled natural beauty in comparison to other isles in the region.

Dominica is a lush island of mountainous rainforests and plenty of rare exotic plants, animals and bird species. The isle of Dominica is one of the youngest islands in the Lesser Antillies, and is actually still being formed by naturally occurring geothermal and volcano-related activity. Dominica is currently heavily dependent on it's tourism industry.

The name is pronounced "do-min-EE-ka" with the emphasis on the third syllable, the name in Latin, means Sunday. It should not be confused with the Dominican Republic ("do-MIN-i-kun"), another Caribbean nation.

First sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the Spanish first encounter Dominica's community of pre-Columbian peoples indigenous to the region known as the Caribs and leave the island after being defeated. In 1627 the British also try and fail at capturing Dominica. Soon after in 1635 the French claim the island and send in missionaries, but are also unable to occupy Dominica from the Carib Indians as they are known, and end up abandoning the island along with the island of Saint Vincent in the 1660s.

For the next one-hundred years Dominica remains isolated and yet more Caribs from other islands settle in Dominica after being driven from surrounding islands and cornered in Dominica by European powers entering into the region. France formally cedes possession of Dominica to Britain in 1763, which then made the island a colony in 1805 and a government is finally setup by the British. The Emancipation of African slaves occures through-out the British Empire in 1834 and by 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony at the time to have a Black-controlled legislature. In 1896 Britain re-takes government control of Dominica, and turns it into a crown colony. Half a century later Dominica became a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation in 1958 to 1962. In 1978 Dominica became an independent nation. In 1980, Dominica's fortunes improved when a corrupt and tyrannical administration was replaced by that of Mary Eugenia Charles, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, who remained in office for 15 years.

 

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