The Commonwealth of Dominica, popularly known as Dominica, is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea. It should not be confused with the Dominican Republic, another Caribbean nation.
The name is pronounced "do-min-EE-ka" with the emphasis on the third syllable. In Latin the name means "Sunday."
Dominica is nicknamed "The Nature Isle of the Caribbean" due to its seemingly unspoiled natural beauty. Because it lies between two overseas départements (territories) of France: Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south, it is also called "French Dominica." Its pre-Columbian name, Wai'tu kubuli, means "Tall is her body."
Dominica is a lush island of mountainous rainforests, home of many rare plant, animal and bird species. The isle of Dominica is one of the youngest islands in the Lesser Antilles, and it is still being formed by volcanic activity. Dominica's economy is heavily dependent on both tourism and agriculture.
Dominica was first sighted by Europeans, including Christopher Columbus, in 1493. They encountered the indigenous peoples known as the Caribs, but soon left the island after being defeated by the Caribs. In 1627 the British also tried and failed to capture Dominica. In 1635 the French claimed the island and sent missionaries, but were unable to wrench Dominica from the Caribs. They abandoned the island, along with the island of Saint Vincent, in the 1660s.
For the next hundred years 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 Britain in 1763. Britain then set up a government and made the island a colony in 1805. The emancipation of African slaves occurred throughout the British Empire in 1834, and by 1838 Dominica became the first British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature. In 1896 Britain re-took governmental control of Dominica and turned it into a crown colony. Half a century later, from 1958 to 1962, Dominica became a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation. In 1978 Dominica finally became an independent nation. Dominica's fortunes improved in 1980 when its 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.
Dominica is an island nation and borderless country in the Caribbean Sea. The size of the country is about 751 square kilometers (290 square miles). The capital is Roseau.
Dominica is largely covered by rainforest and is home to the world's second-largest boiling lake. Dominica also has many waterfalls, springs and rivers. Some plants and animals thought to be extinct on surrounding islands can still be found in Dominica's forests. The volcanic nature of the island and the lack of sandy beaches have made Dominica a popular scuba diving spot.