Dominica

Commonwealth of Dominica
Flag of Dominica Coat of arms of Dominica
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Après le Bondie, C'est la Ter (French creole)
English translation: After God is the Earth
Anthem: Isle of Beauty, Isle of Splendour
Location of Dominica
Capital Roseau
Largest city Roseau
Official language English
Government Parliamentary democracy
 - President Nicholas Liverpool
 - Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
Independence From United Kingdom 
 - Date November 3, 1978 
Area
 - Total 751 km² (184th)
290 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1.6
Population
 - August 2006 estimate 68,902 (201st1)
 - 2001 census 69,625
 - Density 105/km² (95th)
272/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $468 million (177th)
 - Per capita $6,520 (91st)
HDI  (2004) 0.793 (medium) (68th)
Currency East Caribbean Dollar (XCD)
Time zone (UTC–4)
 - Summer (DST) (UTC–4)
Internet TLD .dm
Calling code +1-767
1Rank based on 2005 UN estimate.

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 IPA: /ˌdɒmɪˈnikə/. In Latin the name means "Sunday", which was the day of its discovery by Columbus.

The official name is Commonwealth of Dominica. Dominica's pre-Columbian name was Wai'tu kubuli, which means "Tall is her body" The indigenous people of the island, the Caribs, have a territory which resembles the Indian reserves of Canada. Because the island went through a period of French occupation, and lies between two French overseas departments (Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south), the island is sometimes called "French Dominica". It also has the nickname "The Nature Isle of the Caribbean" due to its seemingly unspoiled natural beauty.

The isle of Dominica is one of the youngest islands in the Lesser Antilles, and it is still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity. It is a lush island of mountainous rainforests, home of many rare plant, animal and bird species. There are xeric areas in some of the western coastal regions but heavy rainfall can be expected inland. The Sisserou parrot is featured on the Dominica flag. Dominica's economy is heavily dependent on both tourism and agriculture.

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History

The indigenous peoples known as the Caribs arrived on this island by special boats which they are still making at their own territory on the island. Christopher Columbus arrived this island on Sunday November 3 1493. He and his crew members soon left the island after being defeated by the Caribs. In 1627 England 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 the United Kingdom in 1763. The United Kingdom 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, the United Kingdom 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.

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Politics

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 of Assembly.

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). Dominica is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US-military (as covered under Article 98).

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Geography

Map of Dominica
Map of Dominica

Dominica is an island nation and borderless country in the Caribbean Sea, the southernmost of the Leeward Islands. The size of the country is about 291 square miles (754 km²). 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. Dominica is home to several protected areas, including Cabrits National Park. The local people like to say that Dominica has 365 rivers.

It is said that when his royal sponsors asked Christopher Columbus to describe this island in the "New World," he crumbled a piece of parchment roughly and threw it on the table. This, Columbus explained, is what Dominica looks like—completely covered with mountains with nary a flat spot.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park is a tropical forest blends with scenic volcanic features.[1] It was recognized as a World Heritage Site on Tuesday, April 4th of 1995. It is the one and only in the Caribbean region.

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 70 miles (110 km) west of the island of Dominica.

The only two major cities are Roseau and Portsmouth.

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Weather

It has two seasons, wet and dry. The temperature is above 20 degrees Celsius most of the time. It is also in the hurricane region. In the late 1970s, Dominica was hit by a strong hurricane.

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Demographics

Almost all of the 70,000 nationals of Dominica today are descendants of African slaves, brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. After many years of brutal treatment by the Spanish, French and English, Dominica is the only Eastern Caribbean island that still has a population of pre-Columbian native Caribs. There are only about 3,000 Caribs remaining. They live in eight villages on the East Coast of Dominica. This special Carib Territory was granted by the English Queen in 1903.[2]. There are also about 1,000 medical students from US and Canada who are studying at Ross University school of medicine in Portsmouth.

The population growth rate of Dominica is very low, due primarily to emigration to other 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 "Patois", a French-based creole language, is the mother tongue of 80% of the Dominican people. Dominica is therefore a member of the Francophonie organization. About 80% of the population is Catholic, though in recent years a number of Protestant churches have been established.

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Culture

Dominica's East coast territory of the Kalinago(tribe)
Dominica's East coast territory of the Kalinago(tribe)

Dominica is home to a wide range of people. Historically occupied by several native tribes, only a Carib tribe remained by the time European settlers reached the island. French and British settlers each claimed the island, and imported slaves from Africa. The remaining Caribs live on a 3,700 acre territory at the east coast side of the island. They elect their own chief. This mix of cultures is important to 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 (ISBN 0-8135-2332-X), in Dominica.

The dialect of Dominica also includes Cocoy and Creole - French-based patois. Other than English, the majority of people speak Creole which came from the French plantation owners from the neighbouring French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Cocoy is primarily a mix of cockney English imported by English settler and with an infusion of African lingual. It is mainly spoken in the north-eastern villages of Marigot and Wesley. [3]

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Media and communication

Currently, there is no daily newspaper. There is a national TV station and a few radio stations, such as: QFM, Dominica Broadcasting Services, Kairi FM, etc.

Before 2004, there was only one telecommunication company called Cable and Wireless (Caribbean). Shortly after that, AT&T and a UK based company called Orange started to offer service to the island.

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Economy

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 tobacco, 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 Devry owned medical school - Ross University , in the northern town of Portsmouth. Over 1,000 students maily from USA and Canada live and study in Portsmouth.

Market day on each weekend in Roseau
Market day on each weekend in Roseau

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 or sandy beaches limit opportunities for standard tourism, but the island's heavily rainforested landscape and beautifully preserved environment could lure those looking for unparalleled ecotourism experiences. Indeed, it is remarked that of all the islands of the Caribbean, Dominica is the only one Christopher Columbus might still recognise.

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Agriculture

Banana used to be the major economy on the island. Between 1988–1999, banana production declined 63% and a 62% decline in export value. It is mainly due to the performance of the banana industry. [4]

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Tourism

Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Dominica's tourism is underdeveloped. It does not have any world famous chains of hotels.

Dominica has a few famous tourist spots, they are Indian River in Portsmouth, Emerald Pool, Trafalga Fall, Scott's head where the Atlantic ocean meets with the Caribbean ocean, world's second largest Boiling Lake which is inside of Morne Trois Pitons National Park - Dominica's World Heritage site. This island country also have many excellent diving spots due to its unspoiled seabed.

In 2004, due to its unchanged natural beauty, Dominica was chosen to be one of the major filming location for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Hampstead Beach, Indian River and Vielle Casse which is situated on the island’s northern tip, were among the few places which were selected for filming. The production ended on May 26th of 2005. The cast, crew and their island hosts had a "Dominica Survivor Party".

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Transportation

There are two small airports on the island, the main one is called Melville Hall Airport, it is about one hour away from Portsmouth; the second one is called Canefield which is about 15 minutes away from Roseau. Neither of them is big enough for regular size big airplanes, But Melvill Hall is currently being expanded. Currently, American Airlines, LIAT airline, Caribbean star are the three major airlines. There is no night time service, because the airports do not have night lights.

There is no highway on the island. Before the road was built between Portsmouth and Roseau, people had to take boats which took several hours from one way to the other. Now, it takes about one hour drive from Portsmouth to Roseau. Mini bus services form the major public transport system. It costs about 1 EC to go anywhere in Portsmouth area, about 8 EC from Portsmouth to Roseau (2006).

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Education

Education is free for Dominican people. However, Dominica does not have a national college. Some Dominicans get scholarships from the Cuban government to attend the medical school in Cuba. Others go to the University of the West Indies or to schools in UK, USA or other countries for higher education. Ross University, a medical school, is located at Portsmouth. In 2006, another medical school called All Saints University of Medicine opened in temporary facilities in Loubiere, with a permanent campus being constructed in Grand Bay.

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Nature

The Sisserou parrot is Dominica's national bird and is indigenous to its mountain forests.

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See also

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Gallery

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External links

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Government

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News and media

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Tourism

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Organizations and directories


 
Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Flag of the Caribbean Community
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas¹ | Barbados | Belize | Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Haiti¹ | Jamaica | Montserrat² | 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 CARICOM (Caribbean) Single Market and Economy.
² territory of the United Kingdom awaiting British instruments of entrustment to join the CSME
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