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Like many other Caribbean islands, Dominica was inhabited by Tainos, Arawak people, who arrived from the Orinoco River region of Venezuela and Colombia. The Tainos lived on the island peacefully until the arrival of the Caribs in the 14th century.
Though the Spanish were the first Europeans to see the island, they were not able to settle there because of the Carib warriors. This did not stop the French from claiming the land in 1635, sending the first visitors to the island around 1650. The French did not settle there until 1715, when they fled from Martinique and established French colony. The colony remained until 1763, when the island was taken by Britain in the Treaty of Paris, after the Seven Years' War. France recaptured the island in 1778, but it was returned to Britain in the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
After the abolition of slavery in the British colonies in 1834, tensions grew between the newly freed people and the wealthy British colonists. Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation along with other British colonies, Antigua, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla in 1871. It later became part of the West Indies Federation along with the Windward Islands in 1958. When it dissolved, Dominica became an associated state in 1967, and in 1978, it became the independent Commonwealth of Dominica. After independence, Dominica continued to struggle economically, and a serious hurricane in 1979 hindered the country's growth over its first decade. The economy later recovered, but more troubles came in the 2000s, when two consecutive prime ministers died in office.
Dominica is located between Guadeloupe and Martinique, and not far from Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
- Roseau (capital)
- Scott's Head
The Caribbean island of Dominica is part of the Windward Islands, with the Caribbean Sea to the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. With plenty of coastline, Dominica's beaches are covered in soft sands. The terrain of the island is rugged and mountainous with lush rainforests. The island was formed by volcanic activity, and contains volcanic slopes forming a ridge across the middle of the island, with deep gorges on either side.
The highest point on the island is Morne Diablotins, which stands 1,447 meters (4,747 feet) above sea level, while another significant peak is Morne Trois Pitons. Another notable volcanic feature of Dominica is the collapsed caldera in the south near Scott's Head, which is partially below sea level. Another effect of the tectonic activity are the hot springs and Boiling Lake, the second largest of its kind, which is situated in a crater and into which flows a waterfall. The largest crater lake is Boeri.
There are 365 rivers in Dominica, though only about 83 are considered substantial. The largest of Dominica's rivers include Layou, the Roseau, and the Toulaman.
The natural attractions of Dominica include its many beaches, as well as its forests. Morne Trois Pitons National Park, situated in the rainforests, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, in which the Boiling Lake and other important Dominican lakes are located. Another protected region in Dominica is Cabrits National Park. Avid hikers should check out Waitukubuli National Trail, which extends 184 kilometers (115 miles) from Scott's Head to Cabrits through rainforests and mountains.
The waters around Dominica are home to diverse wildlife and coral, great for snorkeling and scuba diving. In the south at Champagne, the submarine volcanic activity creates bubbles that resemble champagne.
The capital, Roseau, contains a natural port in the southwest. The city is home to a historic French Quarter, which features colonial architecture, as well as the Gothic Roseau Cathedral, a museum and other attractions. There are also markets and a variety of restaurants to try in Roseau. In the south, the village of Scott's Head is located at the edge of an ancient submarine volcano, and is a great spot for scuba diving.
The main airports in Dominica are Melville Hall and Canefield, with most flights going into the former. Service is available from Puerto Rico, Antigua, Barbados, and several other Caribbean destinations. The other way of entering Dominica is by boat, with ferries from Martinique and Guadeloupe and frequent cruise ships stopping by the port at Roseau.
The primary way of getting around the island is by car, though the roads are narrow and winding and can be dangerous, but this option will allow the most freedom and flexibility. There are buses and taxis, which are fairly inexpensive, but as the road conditions are not great, the bus is not always a comfortable option.
Last Updated : April 08, 2014