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Dominica (dŏmĭnēˈkə), officially Commonwealth of Dominica, republic (2015 est. pop. 73,000) consisting of the island of Dominica (290 sq mi/750 sq km), located in the Windward Islands, West Indies. Roseau is the capital and chief port. The island, of volcanic origin, is mountainous and forested, with a wide variety of flora and fauna and an extensive national park system. Dominica is subject to frequent destructive hurricanes and also to volcanic eruptions. The population is largely of African or mixed European and African descent. More than three quarters of the inhabitants are Roman Catholics, the balance mainly Protestants. English is the official language, but a French patois is also widely spoken.

Bananas are the chief commercial crop and export. Citrus, coconuts, and coconut oil are also exported, and mangoes and root crops are raised. Industry is generally limited to food processing and the manufacture of soap and other coconut-based products. Tourism is a growing industry, but Dominica remains one of the poorer Caribbean nations. The main trading partners are Great Britain, the United States, and China.


Dominica is a parliamentary democracy governed under the constitution of 1978. The head of state is the president, who is elected by the House Assembly and serves a five-year term. The head of government is the prime minister. The members of the thirty-seat unicameral legislature, the House of Assembly serve five-year terms; twenty-one are popularly elected and nine are appointed. Administratively, Dominica is divided into ten parishes.


The island was sighted by Columbus in 1493. English and French attempts at settlement were thwarted by the Caribs, who had taken it earlier from the Arawaks. An Anglo-French treaty of 1748 left Dominica in Carib hands, but both powers continued to covet it. In the 18th cent. Africans were brought in as slaves to work plantations. The island definitively passed to the British in 1815. Hostilities between the British and the Caribs led to the slaughter of large numbers of Caribs. Today, however, there are around 3,000 Caribs who occupy a reservation on the eastern side of the island.

Dominica has been a fully independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1978. In 1981 there were two failed coup attempts. In 1980, Eugenia Charles and the Dominica Freedom party came to power; Charles, who survived two coup attempts in 1981, remained prime minister until she retired in 1995. Edison James, founder of the opposition United Workers' party (DUWP), succeeded her after a win at the polls. He remained prime minister until early 2000, when Rosie Douglas led the Labor party (LPD) to a narrow victory over James and the DUWP. Douglas died in 2000 and was succeeded by Pierre Charles, who died in 2003. Roosevelt Skerrit succeeded Charles as prime minister. Labor was returned to power, again by a narrow margin, in 2005, but won large majorities in 2009, 2014, and 2019. The island was devastated by Hurricane Maria in Sept., 2017.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a volcanic island in the Lesser Antilles islands of the West Indies. A possession of Great Britain. Area, 751 sq km. Population, 74,000 (1969). A mountainous island; its summit, the Diablotin volcano, is 1,586 m. It lies in the trade-wind belt and has a tropical moist climate, with about 2,000 mm of precipitation a year. The average monthly temperature is from 25° to 27°C. On the slopes are tropical rain forests; on the coast are plantations, primarily for citrus fruits and bananas. The main city is Roseau.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Commonwealth of Dominica

Capital city: Roseau

Internet country code: .dm

Flag description: Green, with a centered cross of three equal bands - the vertical part is yellow (hoist side), black, and white and the horizontal part is yellow (top), black, and white; superimposed in the center of the cross is a red disk bearing a sisserou parrot encircled by 10 green five-pointed stars edged in yellow; the 10 stars represent the 10 administrative divisions (parishes)

National anthem: “Isle of beauty, isle of splendour” (first line)

National bird: Sisserou parrot

Geographical description: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about one-half of the way from Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago

Total area: 290 sq. mi. (754 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; moderated by northeast trade winds; heavy rainfall

Nationality: noun: Dominican(s); adjective: Dominican

Population: 72,386 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: African 86.8%, mixed African and European 8.9%, Carib Amerindian 2.9%, white 0.8%, other 0.7%

Languages spoken: English (official), French patois

Religions: Roman Catholic 61.4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 6%, Pentecostal 5.6%, Baptist 4.1%, Methodist 3.7%, Church of God 1.2%, Jehovah’s Witness 1.2%, other Chris­tian 7.7%, Rastafarian 1.3%, Other (including Muslim and Baha’i) or unspecified 1.6%, none 6.1%

Legal Holidays:

Boxing DayDec 26
ChristmasDec 25
Community Day of ServiceNov 4
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Emancipation DayAug 5
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Independence DayNov 3
Labor DayMay 2, 2011; May 7, 2012; May 6, 2013; May 5, 2014; May 4, 2015; May 2, 2016; May 1, 2017; May 7, 2018; May 6, 2019; May 4, 2020; May 3, 2021; May 2, 2022; May 1, 2023
New Year's DayJan 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in the E Caribbean, comprising a volcanic island in the Windward Islands group; a former British colony; became independent as a member of the Commonwealth in 1978. Official language: English. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: East Caribbean dollar. Capital: Roseau. Pop.: 79 000 (2003 est.). Area: 751 sq. km (290 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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