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Commonwealth of Dominica
Flag of Dominica Coat of Arms
Flag of Dominica
(In Detail)
Coat of Arms
(In Detail)
National motto: Après le Bondie, C'est la Ter (French patois)
English translation: After God is the Earth
Location of Dominica
Official language English
Capital Roseau
President Nicholas Liverpool
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 172nd
754 km²

 - Total (2002)
 - Density

Ranked 183rd


Currency East Caribbean Dollar
Time zone UTC -4


From UK

November 3, 1978

National anthem Isle of Beauty, Isle of Splendour
Internet TLD .dm
Calling Code 1-767

The Commonwealth of Dominica, popularly known as Dominica, is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea. It should not be confused with the Dominican Republic, another Caribbean nation.

The name is pronounced "do-min-EE-ka" (IPA: /ˌdɒ.mɪnˈiː.kə/) with the emphasis on the third syllable. In Latin the name means "Sunday."

Dominica is nicknamed "The Nature Isle of the Caribbean" due to its seemingly unspoiled natural beauty. Because it lies between two overseas départements (territories) of France: Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south, it is also called "French Dominica." Its pre-Columbian name, Wai'tu kubuli, means "Tall is her body."

Dominica is a lush island of mountainous rainforests, home of many rare plant, animal and bird species. The isle of Dominica is one of the youngest islands in the Lesser Antilles, and it is still being formed by volcanic activity. Dominica's economy is heavily dependent on both tourism and agriculture.



Main article: History of Dominica

Dominica was first sighted by Europeans, including Christopher Columbus, in 1493. They encountered the indigenous peoples known as the Caribs, but soon left the island after being defeated by the Caribs. In 1627 the British also tried and failed to capture Dominica. In 1635 the French claimed the island and sent missionaries, but were unable to wrench Dominica from the Caribs. They abandoned the island, along with the island of Saint Vincent, in the 1660s.

For the next hundred years Dominica remained isolated, and even more Caribs settled there after being driven from surrounding islands as European powers entered the region. France formally ceded possession of Dominica to Britain in 1763. Britain then set up a government and made the island a colony in 1805. The emancipation of African slaves occurred throughout the British Empire in 1834, and by 1838 Dominica became the first British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature. In 1896 Britain re-took governmental control of Dominica and turned it into a crown colony. Half a century later, from 1958 to 1962, Dominica became a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation. In 1978 Dominica finally became an independent nation. Dominica's fortunes improved in 1980 when its 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.


Main article: Politics of Dominica

Dominica is a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth of Nations. The President is head of state, while executive power rests with the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister. The unicameral parliament consists of the 30-member House of Assembly, which consists of twenty-one directly elected members and nine Senators, who may either be appointed by the President or elected by the other members of the House.

Unlike other former British colonies in the region, Dominica was never a Commonwealth realm with the British monarch as head of state, as it instead became a republic on independence.

Dominica is a full and participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).


Main article: Parishes of Dominica

Dominica is divided into ten parishes, each named after a saint.


Map of Dominica
Map of Dominica

Main article: Geography of Dominica

Dominica is an island nation and borderless country in the Caribbean Sea. The size of the country is about 751 square kilometers (290 square miles). The capital is Roseau.

Dominica is largely covered by rainforest and is home to the world's second-largest boiling lake. Dominica also has many waterfalls, springs and rivers. Some plants and animals thought to be extinct on surrounding islands can still be found in Dominica's forests. The volcanic nature of the island and the lack of sandy beaches have made Dominica a popular scuba diving spot.

The Commonwealth of Dominica is engaged in a long-running dispute with Venezuela over Venezuela's territorial claims to the sea surrounding Isla Aves (Bird Island), a tiny islet located 110 km (70 miles) west of the island of Dominica.


The Dominican economy is dependent on both tourism and agriculture. Forty percent of Dominican workers are in the agricultural sector, and Dominica's primary agricultural exports include bananas, vegetables, citrus, copra, coconut oil, and essential oils such as bay oil. The country's industries, other than tourism, include soap, furniture, cement blocks, and shoes. Dominica is further benefited by the presence of an offshore medical school, Ross University, in the northern town of Portsmouth. About 900 students live and study in Portsmouth.

The Dominican economy has high poverty (30%), high unemployment (23%), and a low per capita GDP (US$5,400). The Dominican economy has been hurt by problems in the banana industry. The entire economy suffers when weather conditions damage the banana crop, or when the price of bananas falls. The European Union has phased out preferred access of bananas to its markets, causing banana demand to fall. In response, the Dominican government privatized the banana industry. Also, the government has attempted to diversify the economy and has lifted price controls in an attempt to improve the lagging economy. The government is also trying to develop tourism, especially ecotourism. The lack of a large international airport and lack of sandy beaches decrease opportunities for standard tourism, but the heavily rainforested island could lure those who want unconventional ecotourism experiences. Indeed, it is remarked that of all the islands of the Caribbean, Dominica is the only one Christopher Columbus would still recognise.


Main article: Demographics of Dominica

Almost all of the seventy thousand nationals of Dominica today are descendants of African slaves, brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. However, Dominica is also one of the few islands in the Eastern Caribbean to possess a population of pre-Columbian Carib Indians, about 3,000 of whom live on the island's east coast in their own territory.

The population growth rate of Dominica is very low, due primarily to emigration to more developed Caribbean Islands, the United Kingdom, the United States, or Canada. English is the official language of Dominica and is universally understood; however, because of historic French domination, Antillean Creole "Patwa", a French-based creole language, is also widely spoken. About 80% of the population is Catholic, though in recent years a number of Protestant churches have been established.


Main article: Culture of Dominica

The famed novelist Jean Rhys was born and raised in Dominica. The island is obliquely depicted in her best-known book, Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys's friend, the political activist and writer Phyllis Shand Allfrey, set her 1954 novel, The Orchid House, in Dominica.

See also

External links

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Countries in the Caribbean

Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago

Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Navassa Island | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands

Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Flag of the Caribbean Community
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas¹ | Barbados | Belize | Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Haiti | Jamaica | Montserrat | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago
Associate members: Anguilla | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | British Virgin Islands | Turks and Caicos Islands
Observer status: Aruba | Colombia | Dominican Republic | Mexico | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Venezuela
¹ member of the community but not the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy.
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