Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Dominica, not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, during his second voyage in 1493. It is an island country in the Caribbean Sea that lies in the chain of islands known as the Lesser Antilles. Its closest neighbours are the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante to the north and Martinuque to the south.
The original settlers of Dominica were the Caribs, who partly because of their violent nature and partly due to the difficult terrain of the island, managed to keep their island free from European colonists for a very long time. The first French missionaries landed on the island in 1642 and slowly thereafter the French foothold was established. Eventually in 1727 approximately 30 French families settled on the island of Dominica, and the influence of the French continued to grow. The British apprehended the island from the French in the Seven Years War and converted it to a separate colony in 1770. In 1778 it was taken back by the French only to be reclaimed by the British in 1782. The constant changing of hands led the native Caribs to name the island “Waitukubuli” or the “land of many battles”. In 1967 Dominica was established as a self-governing state and gained its independence from the British in 1978. Currently Dominica is the only country where the Caribs still exist and are able to make significant contributions to the cultural heritage of Dominica.
The terrain of Dominica is made up of a tropical rainforest which makes it a heaven for a very large variety of flora and fauna. It is home to 365 rivers and numerous waterfalls as well as nine active volcanoes. It is also home to one of the largest Boiling Lakes on the planet. Dominica is considered to be one of the most favoured diving sites and the best whale watching destination in the Caribbean.
The economy of Dominica is largely based on agriculture but recently major efforts have been put into diversifying into tourism and offshore services. Export of bananas is a major contributor to its Gross Development Product, making a contribution of about 80%.
Capital City: Rouseau
Government: Parliamentary democracy.
Currency: Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD)
Total area: 290 sq mi (751 sq km)