Dominica, often called the “The Nature Isle” is one of the geologically youngest islands in the Caribbean chain and still evolving with continuous geothermal activity.
Dominica’s first inhabitants, the Ortoroids, arrived from South America around 3100 B.C., and remained on the island until around 400 B.C. Next came the Arawaks, who settled in about 400 A.D. By 1400, the Kalinago people or “Caribs,” moved aggressively up the Caribbean from South America, eliminating the Arawaks from the region, including Dominica.
Columbus renamed the island Dominica in 1493 when he landed. The Caribs successfully resisted efforts of Spanish colonization, but the British and French followed in the 1600s battling each other and the Caribs, to claim the Island. The Caribs gradually lost control of the island, fleeing back to South America.
However, today approximately 2,000 Caribs remain, most living in the Kalinago Territory.
On November 3, 1978, the island gained independence from Great Britain. This era of freedom and independence brought many challenges. Economic and political struggles, among others, shaped this society. However, by the mid-1980s, Dominica had settled down as a stable and peaceful country. The success of the banana trade, the island’s major export, brought economic buoyancy to the island. Unfortunately, by 1992, Dominica’s banana exports declined sharply with the loss of its preferential access to the UK market.
Today, the Government of Dominica is investing heavily in tourism to drive economic development focusing on the island’s unsurpassed nature and the popularity of diving, hiking (the Waitukubuli National Trail is a unique crisscross island hiking experience) and its unrivaled health and wellness benefits. Dominica remains one of the few accessible places where it is still possible to explore virgin rainforest and mountains and to be truly at one with nature.
FIONA SAWERS is a Partner at Move to Dominica, a relocation specialist, Editor of 100+ Things To Do in Dominica and a volunteer at St Luke’s Primary School, Pointe Michel.