Located in the Caribbean region between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, between Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica is known as the “Nature Island of the Caribbean” due to its extensive park system protecting a lush and spectacular environment. It is a treasure house of natural wonders, including a wide variety of plant and animal species, waterfalls, volcanic mountain peaks and the second largest boiling lake in the world.
Dominica was the last island in the region to be colonized by Europeans. Though, like many other islands in the area, it was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the indigenous Carib people fiercely resisted European domination for many years, including successive attempts by the English and French to conquer the island. There is still an enclave of some 3000 Caribs on Dominica today—the last remaining population of the group in the Caribbean region.
Eventually the English did obtain control of the island. A few years following the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, Dominica became the first sovereign state in the Caribbean to have a legislature made up of former slaves. Dominica gained full political independence in 1978.
Approximately three quarters of the population are Roman Catholic; most of the remainder adhere to various Protestant traditions.
English is the official language, but Dominican Creole French is most widely spoken. A New Testament was published in that language in 1999. A small number of people speak Cocoy, a mix of Cockney English imported by English settlers with African linguistic influences.