Dominica officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean Sea, south-southeast of Guadeloupe and northwest of Martinique. Its size is 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) and the highest point in the country is Morne Diablotins, which has an elevation of 1,447 metres (4,747 ft). The Commonwealth of Dominica had a population of 71,293 at the 2011 Census. The capital is Roseau which is located on the leeward side of the island.
Dominica has been nicknamed the "Nature Isle of the Caribbean" for its unspoiled natural beauty. It is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles, still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity, as evidenced by the world's second-largest hot spring, Boiling Lake. The island features lush 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 (also known as the Imperial Amazon), the island's national bird, is featured on the national flag. Dominica's economy is heavily dependent on both tourism and agriculture.
Christopher Columbus named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it, a Sunday (dominica in Latin), 3 November 1493. In the hundred years after Columbus's landing, 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 Great Britain in 1763. Great Britain then established a small colony on the island in 1805.
The emancipation of African slaves occurred throughout the British Empire in 1834, and, in 1838, Dominica became the first British Caribbean colony to have a legislature controlled by an African majority. In 1896, the United Kingdom reassumed governmental control of Dominica, turning it into a Crown colony. Half a century later, from 1958 to 1962, Dominica became a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation. On 3 November 1978, Dominica became an independent nation.
Geography of Dominica
Dominica is an island in the Caribbean Sea, located about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe (to the north) and Martinique (to the south). Its coordinates are 15 25 N, 61 20 W. It is known as "The Nature Island of the Caribbean" due to its spectacular, lush, and varied flora and fauna, which is protected by an extensive natural park system. It is the fourth largest island in the Caribbean with a population of people mainly from African descent.
The lowest point in the country is at sea level along the coast, and the highest is Morne Diablotins (1,447 m or 4,747 ft). The extreme southwestern coast of the island includes a large collapsed submarine caldera. Portions of the exposed rim of this caldera form the southwestern tip of the island at Scott's Head. Natural resources include farming, hydropower and timber.
Geographically, Dominica is distinctive in many ways. The country has one of the most rugged landscapes in the Caribbean, covered by a largely unexploited, multi-layered rain forest. It is also among the Earth's most rain-drenched lands, and the water runoff forms cascading rivers and natural pools. The island, home to rare species of wildlife, is considered by many as a beautiful, unspoiled tropical preserve. According to a popular West Indian belief, Dominica is the only New World territory that Columbus would still recognize.
Dominica is the largest and most northerly of the Windward Islands. The island faces the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west. Its nearest neighbors are the French islands of Guadeloupe, some 48 kilometres (30 mi) north, and Martinique, about 40 kilometres (25 mi) south. Oblong-shaped and slightly smaller than New York City, Dominica is 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) in area, 47 kilometres (29 mi) in length, and 29 kilometres (18 mi) in width. Roseau, the nation's capital and major port, is favorably situated on the sheltered, southwestern coast.
The island's climate is tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds and heavy rainfall.
Dominica has a Tropical rainforest climate and some areas bordering on a Tropical monsoon climate with characteristically warm temperatures and heavy rainfall. Excessive heat and humidity are tempered somewhat by a steady flow of the northeast trade winds, which periodically develop into hurricanes during the Northern hemisphere's summer. The steep interior slopes also alter temperatures and winds. Because of the moderating effects of the surrounding ocean temperature ranges are slight. Average daytime temperatures generally vary from 26 °C (78.8 °F) in January to 32 °C (89.6 °F) in June. Diurnal ranges are usually no greater than 3 °C (5.4 °F) in most places, but temperatures dipping to 13 °C (55.4 °F) on the highest peaks are not uncommon.
Most of the island's ample supply of water is brought by the trade winds. Although amounts vary with the location, rain is possible throughout the year, with the greatest monthly totals recorded from June through October. Average yearly rainfall along the windward east coast frequently exceeds 5,000 mm (196.9 in), and exposed mountainsides receive up to 9,000 mm (354.3 in), among the highest accumulations in the Caribbean and the world. Totals on the leeward west coast, however, are only about 1,800 mm (70.9 in) per year. Humidities are closely tied to rainfall patterns, with the highest values occurring on windward slopes and the lowest in sheltered areas. Relative humidity readings between 70 percent and 90 percent have been recorded in Roseau.