The Commonwealth of Dominica is an island nation and borderless country in the Caribbean. It is a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth. Dominica is known as the Nature Island of the Caribbean. 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.
The name is pronounced "do-min-EE-ka" (IPA: ) with the emphasis on the third syllable. It should not be confused with the Dominican Republic ("do-MIN-i-kun"), another Caribbean nation.
Main article: History of Dominica
The island was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans, due chiefly to the fierce resistance of the native Caribs. France ceded possession to Great Britain in 1763, which made the island a colony in 1805. It was a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation in 1958 to 1962. It became an independent nation in 1978. 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.
Main article: Politics of Dominica
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.
Dominica is a full & participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Main article: Parishes of Dominica
Main article: Geography of Dominica
Commonly referred to as "The Nature Island", Dominica is largely covered by lush rainforest, and is home to the world's second-largest boiling lake .
The capital is Roseau.
Essential to the Dominican economy is its dependence on Ross University. Through business deals, exclusivity rights and the everyday structures required to run a University, Dominica enjoys the steady influx of medical students from the United States. These students are charged rent and living expenses far exceeding the local value charged to natives.
The Dominican economy is dependent on agriculture, especially the banana industry. 40% of Dominican workers are in the agricultural sector, and Dominica's primary exports (bananas, soap, bay oil , vegetables, grapefruit, and oranges) are mainly agricultural. The country has some industries (soap, coconut oil, tourism, copra, furniture, cement blocks , and shoes), and 32% of the workforce is in the industrial sector.
The Dominican economy has high poverty(30%), unemployment(23%), and a low per capita GDP ($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 EU has phased out preferred access of bananas to its market, causing banana demand to fall. In response, the government has privatized the banana industry. Also, the Dominican government has attempted to diversify the economy and lifted price controls in attempt to improve the lagging economy. The government has plans to build a refinery and is encouraging the growth of an offshore financial sector . The government is also trying to develop tourism, especially ecotourism. A lack of an international airport and beaches make opportunities for standard tourism lacking, but the heavily rainforested island could lure those who want unconventional ecotourism experiences.
Main article: Demographics of Dominica
Almost all Dominicans are descendants of African slaves brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. Dominica is the only island in the eastern Caribbean to retain some of its pre-Columbian population--the Carib Indians--about 3,000 of whom live on the island's east coast.
The population growth rate is very low, due primarily to emigration to more prosperous Caribbean Islands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. English is the official language and universally understood; however, because of historic French domination, Antillean Creole, a French patois, is also widely spoken. About 80% of the population is Catholic. In recent years, a number of Protestant churches have been established.
The famed novelist Jean Rhys was born and raised in Dominica. The island is obliquely depicted in her most well-known book, Wide Sargasso Sea.
Main article: Culture of Dominica
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46