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Dominica

DOMINICA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS DOMINICANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Commonwealth of Dominica

Dominica

CAPITAL: Roseau

FLAG: On a green background appears a cross composed of yellow, black, and white stripes; in the center is a red disk with 10 yellow-bordered green stars surrounding a parrot.

ANTHEM: Isle of Beauty, Isle of Splendor.

MONETARY UNIT: The East Caribbean dollar (ec$) of 100 cents is the national currency. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 25, and 1 dollar, and notes of 5, 10, 20, and 100 East Caribbean dollars. ec$1 = us0.37037 (or us$1 = ec$2.7; as of 2004).

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is being introduced, but imperial measures remain in common use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; CARICOM Day, 2 July; Bank Holiday, 1st Monday in August; National Days, 34 November; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Carnival, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Whitmonday.

TIME: 8 am = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Although usually classified as one of the Windward Islands, Dominica, located between Guadeloupe to the n and Martinique to the s, marks the midpoint of the Lesser Antilles. To the e lies the Atlantic Ocean, to the w the Caribbean Sea. The island has an area of 754 sq km (291 sq mi) and is 47 km (29 mi) long by 26 km (16 mi) wide, with a coastline of 148 km (92 mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Dominica is slightly more than four times the size of Washington, D.C.

Dominica's capital city, Roseau, is located on the southwest coast of the island.

TOPOGRAPHY

The most rugged island of the Lesser Antilles, Dominica is a mass of peaks, ridges, and ravines. Several mountains are over 1,200 m (4,000 ft), of which the highest is Morne Diablatins, with an altitude of 1,447 m (4,747 ft). The whole land mass is of recent volcanic formation, and the mountain peaks are cones of volcanoes with lava craters and small lakes of boiling water. The largest of these is Boiling Lake near Roseau, which is the second-largest thermally active lake in the world. The coastal rim of the island is a thin strip limited by the mountainsides, which extend directly down to the shore.

CLIMATE

The climate of Dominica is mildly tropical; in the winter months the temperature averages 25°c (77°f); in the summer, 28°c (82°f). The spring months are the driest; the heaviest rains fall during late summer. The average yearly rainfall ranges from about 191 cm (75 in) on the drier Caribbean coast to 508 cm (200 in) in mountainous inland areas. Destructive hurricanes coming in from the Atlantic Ocean can be expected during the late summer months.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Since few plantations could be established on Dominica's rugged terrain, the island is still covered with forests, some of which have never been cut except by the destructive winds of a hurricane. On one 4-hectare (10-acre) plot in the rain forest, as many as 60 species of trees may be identified. Some of the most common are chataignier, gommier, carapite, breadfruit, white cedar, and laurier.

There are no large wild animals, but the agouti and manicou can be found. Some 135 species of birds inhabit Dominica. The coastal waters abound in fish.

ENVIRONMENT

As a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) formed in 1981, Dominica shares environmental problems common to the area's island countries. Water shortages are among the most significant. Other areas of concern are pollution from chemicals used in farming and untreated sewage. The nation's forests are endangered by the expansion of farming activities. Hurricanes are the most destructive natural threat to the environment.

Pollution of the nation's coastal waters threatens the tourist trade in the area. Two extensive areas have been set aside as nature reserves. The southern reserve, which constitutes Morne Trois Pitons National Park, is a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers an area of 6,500 hectares (16,100 acres). In it are the nesting places of the red-necked and imperial parrots, both endangered species of Dominica.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 1 type of mammal, 4 species of birds, 4 types of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians, 11 species of fish, and 11 species of plants. The tundra peregrine falcon and the green sea and hawksbill turtles are classified as endangered.

POPULATION

The population of Dominica in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 70,000, which placed it at number 184 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 8% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 28% of the population under 15 years of age. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.8%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 78,000. The population density was 93 per sq km (242 per sq mi), one of the lowest in the West Indies.

The UN estimated that 71% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.67%. The capital city, Roseau, had a population of 27,000 in that year.

AIDS was the leading cause of death among people ages 1544 in the Eastern Caribbean region.

MIGRATION

There are no restrictions on foreign travel, emigration, or repatriation. In 2005 the net migration rate was estimated as -11.6 migrants per 1,000 population. The number of migrants living in Dominica in 2000 was 4,000, close to 5% of the total population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.

ETHNIC GROUPS

The vast majority of Dominicans are descendants of African slaves brought to the island in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of the population are of mixed descent and a small minority are of European origin. Dominica is the only island of the Caribbean on which descendants of the native Carib population still make up a community of significant size. Isolation and the establishment of a 1,500-hectare (3,700-acre) reserve have enabled the Caribs, who number about 3,000 people, to preserve their identity.

LANGUAGES

English is the official language of Dominica. Nearly all Dominicans also speak a French patois, based on a mixture of African and French grammar and consisting mostly of French words, with some English and Spanish borrowings. Some islanders speak French as their first language.

RELIGIONS

About 61% of the population are Roman Catholic. Evangelical churches have a membership that accounts for about 18% of the population. About 6% of the people are Seventh-Day Adventists and 3.7% are Methodists. Other minority groups include Anglicans, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Baha'is, Rastafarians, Baptists, Nazarenes, and Brethren Christians. About 6% of the population does not claim any religious affiliation.

Religious freedom for all faiths is provided for in the constitution and this right is generally respected in practice. All religious groups must register with the government to receive nonprofit status. Certain Christian holidays are observed as national holidays. The Dominica Christian Council and the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches offer opportunities for interreligious dialogue on religious and social matters.

TRANSPORTATION

A paved road circles the northern two-thirds of the island, connecting the two main towns, Roseau and Portsmouth, with Melville Hall Airport in the northeast. Much of the road system was severely damaged by a 1979 hurricane; reconstruction averages about 16 km (10 mi) a year. There were about 780 km (485 mi) of roadways in 2002, of which 390 km (242 mi) were paved. There are 2,770 passenger cars and 2,830 commercial motor vehicles on the island. A deepwater harbor has been completed near Roseau on Woodbridge Bay, and both Roseau and Portsmouth also receive ships. As of 2005, Dominica's merchant marine consisted of 32 ships of 1,000 GRT or over, for a total of 13,771 GRT. Dominica Air Transport and other small airlines connect the main airport with Martinique, Guadeloupe, Antigua, and Barbados. In 2004 there were two airports, both with paved runways, one is a 760-m (2,500-ft) airstrip at Canefield, about 5 km (3 mi) north of Roseau.

HISTORY

The first island sighted by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World was Dominica at which he arrived Sunday (dies dominica ), 3 November 1493. Carib Indians, whose ancestors originally had come from the Orinoco Basin in South America and, during the 14th century, had driven out the indigenous Arawaks, inhabited the island. The Caribs resisted conquest and the Spaniards soon lost interest in the island, which had no apparent mineral wealth.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica, and French missionaries visited the island seven years later, but strong Indian resistance to further contact prevented either the French or the English from settling there. In 1660, England and France declared Dominica a neutral island and left it to the Caribs. Within 30 years, however, Europeans began to settle on the island, and in 1727 the French took formal possession. Under the Treaty of Paris in 1763, however, France ceded the island to Great Britain, which then developed fortifications for its defense. French colonists established coffee plantations during the nearly forty years they held the island. The British introduced sugar production later, but the large slave plantations that characterized other West Indian islands never developed on Dominica. When Great Britain abolished slavery in the West Indies in 1834, 14,175 Dominican slaves obtained their freedom.

Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a black-controlled legislature in the 19th century, but blacks lost most of their political power when the British government, acceding to the wishes of Dominican planters, diluted the strength of the Legislative Assembly and, in 1896, reduced Dominica to a crown colony. Great Britain governed Dominica as part of the Leeward Islands from 1871 until 1939, and in 1940 transferred governance to the Windward Islands administration. From 1958 to 1962, the island belonged to the Federation of the West Indies. Dominica became an associated state of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1967 and on 3 November 1978 became an independent republic.

In its first years of independence, Dominica had several problems. Hurricanes, especially Hurricane David in 1979, brought great destruction to the island, but the corrupt, tyrannical administration of Premier Patrick John led to numerous severe difficulties. Dominicans ousted John in June 1979, and, after a year of interim rule, Mary Eugenia Charles became prime minister in July 1980.

Charles, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, remained in office for 15 years. (She died at the age of 86 on 6 September 2005.) Her Dominica Freedom Party received parliamentary majorities in 1985 and 1990, partly because of an improved economic picture. Charles fully supported and sent a token force to participate in the US-led intervention of the island of Grenada in October 1983.

In the early 1990s, controversy flared over the practice of granting "economic citizenship" to Asian nationals who invested $35,000 or more in the country. In response, the government implemented stiffer requirements, including licenses, waiting periods, and additional financial outlays.

Prime Minister Charles's DFP lost its majority in the 1995 elections, and Edison James, leader of the United Workers' Party, formed a new government. Under James, Dominica's economy improved, but charges of corruption concerning the continued sale of Dominican citizenship to foreigners, allegedly including gangsters and smugglers, seriously undermined his creditability. In the election held in January 2000, the UWP narrowly won a plurality of votes over the DLP and DFP. In 200004, UWP's Pierre Charles was prime minister.

In 2002, Pierre Charles told the Caribbean Development Bank that Dominica faced economic and financial collapse. Revenue from exports and tourism was down, and Charles cited the effects of globalization as one of the causes of Dominica's economic troubles. Charles died in office at the age of 49 in January 2004. Education Minister Roosevelt Skerrit succeeded him as prime minister. In November 2004, an earthquake damaged buildings on the north side of the island, and Prime Minister Skerrit estimated the damages would rise in the millions of dollars. Skerrit and the governing DLP won the general elections held in May 2005.

GOVERNMENT

Under the independence constitution of 3 November 1978, Dominica has a unicameral parliament, the House of Assembly, with 21 members elected by universal adult suffrage (at age 18) and 9 appointed members (5 named on the advice of the prime minister, 4 on the advice of the leader of the opposition). The term of the Assembly is five years. The prime minister and leader of the opposition nominate the president, though Parliament officially elects the head of state, who in turn appoints the prime minister and cabinet from the majority party in the assembly.

POLITICAL PARTIES

Dominica's major political parties are the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), and the United Workers' Party (UWP). The DFP held power from 1980 to 1995, led by Eugenia Charles, the first woman prime minister in the Caribbean region. (Party leadership was transferred to Brian Alleyne in 1993, but Charles remained prime minister.) The UWP dominated the 1995 elections, winning 11 of the 21 elected seats in the National Assembly. (The DFP and DLP, led by Rosie Douglas, each won 5.) Following the elections, UWP leader Edison James became prime minister. The DLP won 10 of the 21 elected seats in the 2000 election and formed a coalition government with the DFP, then led by Pierre Charles, which captured two seats. In the 2005 general election, the DLP won 52.08% of the vote (12 seats), the UWP won 43.6% of the vote (8 seats), and the DFP won 3.15% of the vote. An independent held the remaining seat in the House of Assembly. Roosevelt Skerrit, who had been chosen prime minister after the death of Pierre Charles in 2004, remained prime minister.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

In contrast to other English-speaking islands in the Caribbean, Dominica has a well-developed local government system. There are 37 village councils, made up of both elected and appointed members. Both Roseau and Portsmouth have town councils, and Canefield has an urban council. There is a Carib Council which governs the Carib territory, set aside for indigenous peoples. There are also 10 parishes, which are administrative divisions for the national government.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

Dominica's judicial process derives from English common law and statutory acts of the House of Assembly. The courts of first instance are the four magistrates' courts; at the second level is the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. The highest court is the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, based in St. Lucia, and one of its six judges must reside in Dominica and preside over the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. In exceptional cases prior to 2003, appeals were carried to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.

On 9 June 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Kingston, Jamaica, to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The court was officially inaugurated in April 2005, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. As of 2005, however, the court's jurisdiction was limited to the CARICOM states of Barbados and Guyana. The CCJ heard its first case in August 2005.

The law provides for public trial before an independent, impartial court. Criminal defendants have the right to legal counsel, and to appeal.

ARMED FORCES

A police force of 300 is in charge of law and order. Dominica, along with Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is a member of the Regional Security System, established in 1985. Defense from foreign attack would come from the United States or United Kingdom.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Dominica became a member of the United Nations on 18 December 1978 and belongs ECLAC and several specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IMF, ILO, UNESCO, WHO, and the World Bank. Dominica is also a member of the WTO, OAS, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Nations, G-77, CARICOM, the ACP Group, the OECS, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). The nation is an observer in the Nonaligned Movement and a member of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL). In environmental cooperation, Dominica is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.

ECONOMY

Bananas and other agriculture dominate Dominica's economy, and nearly one-third of the labor force works in agriculture. This sector, however, is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and to external events that affect commodity prices. With the decline of banana exports, GDP growth began declining and in the late 1980s, average annual GDP growth was 5.5%; in the early 1990s, about 3.5%, and from 1996 to 1999, 2.5%. In 2000, GDP stagnated and in 2001 there was a contraction of about 4.5% as adverse weather, a drop in tourism, and reduced export demand added to the effects of declining banana production. From 1998 to 2000, banana exports fell 24.6%, and then in the global slowdown of 2001, fell another 35.4%.

In response to decreasing European Union (EU) banana trade preferences, the government has diversified the agricultural sector, with the export of small quantities of citrus fruits and vegetables and the introduction of coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, and exotic fruits such as mangos, guavas, and papayas. Dominica also has had some success increasing its manufactured exports, primarily soap. Furthermore, Dominica recently entered the offshore financial services market.

Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, tourism has developed more slowly than on neighboring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica does have the highest mountain peak in the Caribbean. Rain forests, freshwater lakes, over 200 rivers, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive ecotourism destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in the capital. However, development of the tourism industry remains difficult because of the rugged coastline and the absence of an international airport.

The government is promoting industrial development involving agro-processing and light industry, and hopes to build an airport with greater accessibility. After the government began a comprehensive restructuring of the economy in 2003, the 2004 GDP growth rate was reported at 3.5%. The country nearly had a financial crisis in 2003 and 2004, but it has managed to stabilize its debt and fiscal deficits using some difficult reform measures, earning the praise of international financial institutions (IFIs).

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Dominica's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $384.0 million. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $5,500. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at -1%. The average inflation rate in 2001 was 1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 18% of GDP, industry 24%, and services 58%.

It was estimated that in 2002 about 30% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

The labor force in 2002 (the latest year for which data was available) was estimated at 25,000. About 40% of the labor force was employed in agriculture, 32% in industry and commerce, and 28% in services. Unemployment was officially 23% in 2002.

Unions have the right to strike, organize, and engage in collective bargaining. As of 2005, unions represented about 33% of the workforce, with approximately 50% of all government employees belonging to unions as that same year. Essential services are prohibited from striking and this includes the coconut, citrus, and banana industries, as well as the port service that supports them.

The standard work week is 40 hours over 5 days. However, excessive overtime is not prohibited. The minimum wage is set by the government and varies from sector to sector. Last revised in 1989, the average wage was between us$.74 per hour and us$1.11 per hour in 2005 for most workers. These wages are not sufficient to support a family, although most workers earn more than the minimum. The minimum working age is 15 and this is generally observed without government enforcement. Children between the ages of 12 and 14 were permitted to work in certain family businesses such as farming. Occupational safety and health standards for adults and children are generally enforced by the government, and most employers comply with them.

AGRICULTURE

About 26.7% of the total land area is arable. Agricultural production was on the decline even before the 1979 hurricane disaster. The main crop of Dominica is bananas, output of which had fallen to 29,700 tons in 1978. As a result of Hurricane David, production hit a low of 15,700 tons in 1979. Agriculture suffered a further blow from Hurricane Allen in August 1980. However, after outside financial support began to rehabilitate the sector, production rose to 27,800 tons in 1981 and totaled 29,000 tons in 2004.

Agriculture accounts for about 18% of GDP and employs about 40% of the labor force. Agricultural exports amounted to $15.3 million in 2004. Most crops are produced on small farms, the 9,000 owners of which are banded together in about 10 cooperatives; there are also several large farms that produce mostly bananas for export. Coconuts and citrus fruits are grown in commercial quantities. Production for 2004 included coconuts, 11,500 tons; grapefruit, 17,000 tons; lemons and limes, 1,020 tons; and oranges, 7,200 tons. Fruits and vegetables are produced mostly for local consumption.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

There are about 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of pastureland, comprising 2.7% of the total land area. The island does not produce sufficient meat, poultry, or eggs for local consumption. In 2004 there were an estimated 13,400 head of cattle, 9,700 goats, 7,600 sheep, and 5,000 hogs. In 2004, production of meat totaled 1,364 tons; and milk, 6,100 tons.

FISHING

Before Hurricane David in 1979, some 2,000 persons earned a living fishing in coastal waters, producing about 1,000 tons of fish a year and meeting only about one-third of the local demand. The hurricane destroyed almost all of the island's 470 fishing boats; afterward, only about a dozen vessels could be reconstructed for use. In 2003, the catch was 1,103 tons, up from 552 tons in 1991.

FORESTRY

Dominica has the potential for a lumber industry. Some 46,000 hectares (114,000 acres) are classified as forest, representing 61% of the total land area. In 1962, Canadian experts produced a study indicating that over a 40-year period the island could produce a yearly output of 22,000 cu m (800,000 cu ft) of lumber. Before Hurricane David in 1979, annual output had reached about 7,500 cu m (265,000 cu ft). There are some 280 hectares (700 acres) of government land allocated to commercial forestry and about 100 hectares (240 acres) of forestland in private hands. Commercially valuable woods include mahogany, blue and red mahoe, and teak.

MINING

Dominica had no significant or recorded production of minerals in 2003, although small amounts of pumice are exported. What production there is of clay, limestone, volcanic ash, and sand and gravel is primarily for the domestic construction industry.

ENERGY AND POWER

Dominica's energy and power sector is marked by a complete lack of any proven reserves of oil, natural gas, or coal, nor does it possess any refining capacity. As a result, the country is entirely dependent upon imports to meet its consumption of fossil fuels. However, the country does have access to hydropower, which makes up a large portion of the nation's electric power generating capacity and production.

In 2002, Dominica imported an average of 820 barrels per day of refined oil products, the largest of which were gasoline at 470 barrels per day, and distillates, at 250 barrels per day. Liquefied natural gas imports for that year stood at 60 barrels per day, with kerosene and residual fuel oils each at 20 barrels per day.

Dominica's electric power sector is solely managed by a private utility the Dominica Electricity Service (Domlec). According to Domlec's 2002 annual report, the company had an installed capacity of 20,440 kW, of which diesel fueled generation accounted for 12,840 kW and hydropower at 7,600 kW. However, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) for that year placed the country's generating capacity at 19,000 kW, with hydropower and conventional thermal capacity at 8,000 kW and 11,000 kW, respectively. In addition, the company's hydropower capacity can drop sharply during a very dry season. According to Domlec's 2002 annual report, installed hydropower capacity could fall to as much as 32,000 kW. In 2002, the CIA reported that Dominica's output and consumption of electrical power was 68.41 million kWh and 63.62 kWh, respectively, while the EIA placed production and consumption of electrical power at 65 million kWh and 61 million kWh, respectively. Domlec's annual report for 2002 placed total electric power output at 80.1 million kWh.

In April 2004, Commonwealth Development Corporation (London, UK) sold its 72% stake in Domlec to WRB Enterprises (Tampa, Florida).

INDUSTRY

Dominica has only light industry and most of it is connected with the processing of agricultural products. Industrial establishments include a plant for processing coconuts into oil and copra for export, four plants to process limes and other citrus fruits, two bottling plants, two distilleries, four small apparel plants, and four small furniture factories. Dominica exports water to its Caribbean neighbors; shoes, cement blocks, furniture, soap and toiletries are also exported. Home industries produce some leather work, ceramics, and straw products. Wood products, including furniture, are produced from local timber. Portsmouth is the main boatbuilding center.

Since the 1990s, the small manufacturing sector has been expanding at a modest pace, including electronics assembly, rum, candles, and paints. Industry accounted for 24% of GDP in 2004. While services account for 58% of GDP it only hires 28% of the labor force (with comparison to agriculture, which hires 40%)

The Dominican economy has high poverty (30%), high unemployment (23%), and a low per capita GDP (us$5,400). The Dominican economy has been hurt by problems in the banana industry. The entire economy suffers when weather conditions damage the banana crop, or when the price of bananas falls. The European Union has phased out preferred access of bananas to its markets, causing banana demand to fall. In response, the Dominican government privatized the banana industry.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Late in 1980, Dominica created a Council for Science and Technology, under the Ministry of Education. The Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute has been active in more than a half-dozen projects.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Local produce markets exist in all the small villages and towns. About 40% of the work force is employed in agriculture and many foods and manufactured goods have to be imported.

The island has sought to develop preserves of its unique flora and fauna to attract tourists.

The tourism industry has reoriented many artisan jobs, such as in the fishing industry; the Dominica fleet has increased from only 913 vessels in 1994 to more than 1100 in 2000. However tourism overall has been slow to develop because of poor transport and the lack of hotel facilities and good beaches. Commercial activity is concentrated in the morning hours, since tropical rains impede afternoon travel.

FOREIGN TRADE

Dominica is well known for its exports of bananas, which reflect over a quarter of the country's commodity export revenues. Soap and cleaning products account for almost a third of exports (29%). Other exports include vegetables (3.7%), paint (3.1%), and perfume (13.7%). Exports accounted for $41.2 million in 2004 (mainly

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 39.3 127.0 -87.7
Jamaica 9.0 1.6 7.4
United Kingdom 6.2 9.7 -3.5
Antigua and Barbuda 4.0 0.3 3.7
France-Monaco 3.6 3.1 0.5
Guyana 3.3 1.5 1.8
Trinidad and Tobago 2.6 23.2 -20.6
United States 2.5 47.2 -44.7
Barbados 2.0 5.5 -3.5
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1.3 0.4 0.9
Saint Lucia 1.3 3.5 -2.2
() data not available or not significant.

bananas, citrus fruits, soap, and cocoa). The major markets are CARICOM, 61%; the European Union, 18%; and the United States, 3%. On the other hand, imports reached $145 million in 2004, mainly of machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured articles, and cement. The major suppliers are the United States 35%, CARICOM 29%, EU 13% and Japan 5%.

Dominica is a beneficiary of the US Caribbean Basin Initiative, which grants duty-free entry into the United States for many goods. In 2004, exports totaled $41 million, with 3% going to the United States. Dominica also belongs to the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Dominica and the other countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean

Current Account -38.1
   Balance on goods -59.4
     Imports -102.4
     Exports 42.9
   Balance on services 26.0
   Balance on income -18.5
   Current transfers 13.8
Capital Account 20.5
Financial Account 8.9
   Direct investment abroad
   Direct investment in Dominica 11.4
   Portfolio investment assets 0.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities 12.1
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -2.8
   Other investment liabilities -11.8
Net Errors and Omissions 17.0
Reserves and Related Items -8.3
() data not available or not significant.

States (OECS) were scheduled to join the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) in June 2006.

In 2004 Dominica cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of ties with mainland China. China agreed to give aid worth more than $100 million over five years.

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

The increasingly unfavorable balance of trade produces a current account deficit and boosts the foreign debt. Recurrent hurricanes and other natural disasters, such as an earthquake that caused millions in damages in November 2004, have added to the debt burden. Dominica hopes to be able to offset the trade deficit with tourism revenues.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2004 the purchasing power parity of Dominica's exports was $74 million while imports totaled $234 million resulting in a trade deficit of approximately $150 million, increasing yearly.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

The principal national banks are the National Commercial and Development Bank of Dominica and the Dominica Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank. Private commercial banks include Barclays (UK), the Royal Bank of Canada, and the Banque Française Commerciale. Dominica is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, which issues a common currency. Dominica has no stock market, and is considered an offshore tax haven for international companies. It guarantees a 20-year tax exemption. The International Monetary Fund reported that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $39.3 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $204.1 million.

INSURANCE

Representatives of British, Canadian, and US insurance companies do business in Dominica.

PUBLIC FINANCE

Operating revenues come mostly from customs duties, excise taxes, and other taxes and fees for government services. The leading areas of expenditure are education, health, public services, housing, and defense.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2001 Dominica's central government took in revenues of approximately $73.9 million and had expenditures of $84.4 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$10.5 million. Total external debt was $161.5 million.

TAXATION

Taxes levied by the Dominican government include a progressive personal income tax ranging from 040%; a business income tax of 35%; social security taxes; a 3% gross receipts tax on retail sales; and taxes on land transfers and land-value appreciation. There is no capital gains tax except the land-value appreciation tax.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Specific import duties apply to food and ad valorem duties apply to other items. The government levies export duties on principal agricultural products; the charge is heavy on rum and cigarettes but lighter on bananas and coconuts. Under a 1992 Caribbean Community agreement, Dominica eliminated import licensing. Dominica adopted CARICOM's common external tariff, which ranges up to 35%. Additional duties are applied to cigarettes, rum and motor vehicles.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

The amount of foreign investment in Dominica is limited, largely because the island lacks the infrastructure to support an industrialization program. Investment increased in the early 1990s under the Charles government, particularly in agriculture. The marketing of banana production is monopolized by European multinational corporations. Tax holidays and import-duty exemptions are offered as investment incentives. The area near the Canefield airstrip is an industrial estate and export processing zone. The government agency for industrial development has had some success attracting capital investment funds for the island. The introduction of an offshore financial industry may also attract investment, as well as increased tourism. Other investment incentives include repatriation of profits, alien landholding license fees, factory building/industrial estates, and residence/work permits.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows peaked in 1997 at $21 million before falling to $6.1 million in 1998. FDI inflows recovered to $18 million in 1999 and averaged about $13 million a year in 2000 and 2001. By 2003 there was a decent increase in FDI of up to $17 million, but FDI as a percentage of GDP continues to decrease.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Similar to its Eastern Caribbean neighbors, the main priority of Dominica's foreign relations is economic development. Dominica seeks to foster private enterprise.

Dominica's government until recently has been sensitive about market liberalization. In 1986, for example, it created an exportimport agency and announced a land-reform program, both to stimulate agriculture. Under the latter, the government purchased 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of land in prime growing areas and then guaranteed a minimum holding with security of tenure, as well as services and equipment, to small farmers and landless farm workers. As of 1994, the government encouraged agriculture expansion through a diversification program, which was aimed at improving the marketing of products and providing income guarantees for farmers who are in the process of diversifying into new crops. There was still serious concern about the implications of the restructuring of formerly protected European markets.

In August 2002, Dominica negotiated a one-year $4.3 million Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF and immediately the government implemented a 4% Stabilization Levy tax to tackle the financial crisis. Further economic austerity measures were taken while massive protests followed. But by 2003 the government began a comprehensive restructuring of the economy, which included elimination of price controls, privatization of the state banana company, and tax increasesto address Dominica's economic crisis and to meet IMF targets.

The main problem has been that the small island's economy is dependent on agriculture and thus is highly vulnerable to climatic conditions. Development of the tourist industry remains difficult because of the rugged coastline and the lack of an international airport (though the government bought land for the construction of an airport in 1999). There has been much debate over proposals to build an airport capable of handling large jet aircraft because there is concern that an increase in tourist arrivals, as well as the promotion of eco-tourism, would damage the island's finely balanced environment.

Besides tourism, the government has attempted to diversify the economy and inspire confidence in investors and the population. For example, for a time the offshore business sector of Dominica was included on a list of countries deemed to be noncooperative in the fight against money-laundering. The government subsequently tightened up banking rules and set up a financial intelligence unit. Other positive events have been the establishment of diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China in March 2004 and the announcement by Prime Minister Skerrit in June that year that the Stabilization Levy had ended. In early 2005 a boost to the economy was given by the shooting of the feature film Pirates of the Caribbean.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Until the early 1980s, a high rate of unemployment, a markedly high rate of emigration, and very limited resources hindered the development of social service programs in Dominica. A social insurance system covers all workers from 1460 years of age, including apprentices. Under this plan, both workers and employers contribute specific amounts to a government fund, which provides pensions for workers reaching retirement age, compensation for workers who become incapacitated, and survivor benefits. There are also sickness and maternity benefits. The social security system is funded by worker contributions of 3% of earnings (7% self-employed) and a 7% employer payroll tax. Retirement is set at age 60.

Domestic violence is prevalent. A hotline manned by volunteers is available for battered women, and the Welfare Department often helps them find temporary quarters. Apart from the constitution, there is no specific legislation in force to protect women from sex discrimination. Property ownership is given to the "head of household" which is generally male. When a man dies without a will his wife cannot inherit the property. Many women in rural areas face considerably difficulty in meeting basic needs. Children's rights are generally protected, and education is free and compulsory.

Indigenous Carib minorities face minimal discrimination, and most live on a 3,700-acre reservation set aside for them by the government in 1903. Human rights are generally respected in Dominica. However, instances of excessive police force have been reported, and prison conditions are poor.

HEALTH

In 2004 there were an estimated 49 physicians, 415 nurses, and 6 dentists per 100,000 people. The one general hospital on Dominica is in Roseau, the 195-bed Princess Margaret Hospital. There are 7 health centers and 44 clinics scattered across the island. Serious tropical diseases such as yaws and malaria have been eradicated, but owing to the high humidity and rainy conditions, tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases continue to be a problem. Intestinal parasites afflict particularly those in the early years of life. Only 7% of newborns were low birth weight. In 2005, the infant mortality rate was estimated at 14.15 per 1,000 live births. Average life expectancy for that year was 74.65 years. Approximately 99% of the country's children were immunized against measles and the same percentage for DPT, tuberculosis, and polio. There were no cases of polio or measles reported on the island.

HOUSING

Hurricane David in 1979 destroyed the homes of over four-fifths of the population. Under an emergency housing program, construction supplies were brought into the island, and shelters were built for most of the population. Most of all dwellings are detached houses. In 1993, at least 71% were owner occupied. Most houses are built through the private sector, with individuals financing their own homes. Over half of all housing units were wooden, while smaller percentages were either concrete or wood and concrete.

Since the mid-1990s, the nation has participated in a reconstruction program focusing on techniques for hurricane retrofitting. Through the Cooperative Housing Foundation, eligible residents can obtain loans to aid in the upgrade of their homes.

EDUCATION

Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. Technical and vocational studies offer practical training in technical and electrical engineering, auto mechanics, plumbing, general business, construction, and agriculture. Transportation to secondary schools is a problem for students in rural areas.

Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 81% of age-eligible students; 83% for boys and 79% for girls. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 92% of age-eligible students; 86% for boys and 98% for girls. It is estimated that about 91% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 19:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 17:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 28% of primary school enrollment and 32% of secondary enrollment.

Higher educational facilities include a teacher training institute, a technical college, a nursing school, and a local center maintained by the University of the West Indies. In higher-level institutions, there were 34 teaching staff and 484 students in 1993. The adult literacy rate was estimated at about 94% in 2003.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5% of GDP.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

A national library system of about 50,000 volumes includes a Main Library in Roseau and branches in Portsmouth, Grand Bay, and Marigot. There is also a mobile library unit for rural areas. The Roseau Museum highlights the island's cultural and natural history.

MEDIA

In 2002, there were 23,700 mainline telephones in use, with an additional 9,400 cellular phones throughout the country. In 1997 there were 703 radios and 81 television sets per 1,000 population. As of 2004, there were 2 AM and 4 FM radio stations and one (cable) television station. Dominicans also receive TV and radio broadcasts from neighboring islands. In 2002, there were about 12,500 Internet subscribers in the country. Two weekly newspapers are published in Roseau, the Chronicle (circulation in 2002, 2,500) and the government-published Official Gazette (550), among other journals and periodicals.

The constitution provides for the right of free expression, and the government is said to respect free speech and a free press. Independent print and electronic media operate without restrictions by the government authorities.

ORGANIZATIONS

There are many cooperatives and credit unions in Dominica. A chamber of commerce and a small Rotary Club also function. There is a Dominica Employers' Federation in Roseau. The Dominica National Development Corp. promotes both industry and tourism. The Association of Eastern Caribbean Manufacturers is a multinational union based in Djibouti. There are unions, such as the Waterfront and Allied Workers' Union, and professional associations, such as the Dominica Association of Teachers.

The Dominica National Council of Women and the Women's Bureau are umbrella organizations supporting a variety of national women's groups. Youth organizations include the Young Freedom Movement, the Scout Association of Dominica, Girl Guides, and YWCA. Sports associations are active for several different pastimes, including tennis, track and field, and squash.

Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs and Kiwanis International, are also present. There is a national chapter of the Red Cross Society.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Dominica's tourism industry has developed slower than that of neighboring Caribbean islands. However, the growth of ecotourism has helped make tourism a staple in the economy. The principal attraction is the rugged natural beauty of its volcanic peaks, forests, lakes, waterfalls, and over 365 rivers. Day trips to Dominica from Barbados, Guadeloupe, and Martinique have gained increasing popularity. Cricket is the national sport.

Citizens of the United States and Canada may enter the country with proof of citizenship; other foreign visitors must have a valid passport. All tourists must have an onward/return ticket. A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from an infected area.

In 2003, there were 72,948 tourists who visited Dominica, of whom 83% came from the Americas. The US Department of State estimated the average stay in Dominica at us$182 per day.

FAMOUS DOMINICANS

Maria Eugenia Charles (19192005), cofounder of the Dominica Freedom Party, became prime minister in 1980. She served until 1995, and was the first female prime minister in the Caribbean. Edison Chenfil James (b.1943) was prime minister from 1995 until 2000. Pierre Charles (19542004) was prime minister from 20002004. Roosevelt Skerrit (b.1972) succeeded him.

DEPENDENCIES

Dominica has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adventure Guide to Dominica and St Lucia. Edison, N.J.: Hunter, 2004.

Calvert, Peter. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Latin America. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.

Hulme, Peter. Remnants of Conquest: The Island Caribs and Their Visitors, 18771998. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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Dominica

DOMINICA

Commonwealth of Dominica

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Dominica is an island located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean. Its total area is 754 square kilometers (291 square miles), making it the largest of the English-speaking Windward Islands, and it is slightly more than 4 times the size of Washington, D.C. Its coastline measures 148 kilometers (92 miles), and its capital and main urban center, Roseau, is located on the southwest coast.

POPULATION.

Dominica's population was estimated at 71,540 in mid-2000, marking a decline of 1.14 percent from the preceding year and a fall from the official mid-1998 estimate of 73,000. The decline in population, despite relatively high life expectancy and a birth rate of 18.27 per 1,000 population, is mostly due to a high degree of migration, estimated at 22.39 migrants per 1,000 population in 2000. Migration is largely caused by lack of work opportunities, and Dominicans are to be found working in other Caribbean islands (notably the French overseas departments), the United States, and, to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom. At current rates of population decrease, Dominica could have only 65,000 inhabitants by 2010. The death rate is Dominica is 7.3 per 1,000.

The island's mountainous landscape means that its population is mostly clustered along the coast. About 30 percent of Dominicans live in the parish of St. George, in or around Roseau, while the volcanic interior is very sparsely inhabited. Generally, Dominica is not densely populated, and its population is by regional standards evenly distributed between age groups. Islanders aged 14 and under make up 29 percent of the population, while 63 percent are between 15 and 64 years old. The remaining 8 percent includes those 65 and older. Approximately 90 percent of Dominicans are of African descent, and the island is also home to some 2,000 descendants of the indigenous Carib population. A small minority of these Caribs are the last surviving descendants of the Caribbean islands' pre-Columbian peoples and live in a 3,700-acre reservation in the northeast part of the island.

English is the official language of Dominica, and the literacy rate is 94 percent. Nearly 80 percent of the citizens are Roman Catholic, with Protestants making up 15 percent, and the remainder spread among several other Christian and non-Christian faiths.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Dominica is the poorest and least developed of the Windward Islands. Its economy is mainly dependent on agricultural exports, especially bananas. The island's exceptionally mountainous landscape prohibits much cultivation. The island is also vulnerable to hurricanes. Even so, agriculture is the main source of employment and income revenue, and remains much more important to Dominica than to other Caribbean islands. As a result, the threatened removal of preferential access for Dominican banana exports into the European market is potentially disastrous for the island's economy.

Tourism has been slower to develop in Dominica than elsewhere, largely because the island has few white sand beaches (the most popular type of beach) and has no international airport. Since the 1990s, however, it has developed a reputation as an " eco-tourism " destination, capitalizing on its spectacular natural beauty and wealth of plants and wildlife. The government has also sought to increase the numbers of cruise-ship visitors, and this sector of the tourism industry has grown substantially since the mid-1990s. The problem remains of balancing the need for increased tourism with protection of the island's unique and vulnerable eco-system.

Manufacturing is not developed in Dominica, but it is able to take advantage of locally generated hydro-electricity. The most successful venture is a large soap production facility, controlled by the U.S. Colgate-Palmolive corporation, which exports soap manufactured from local coconuts. This, together with other agricultural-processing activities, faces stiff competition from other Caribbean manufacturers. There is relatively little manufacturing aimed at the U.S. export market, as Dominica's limited infrastructure is unsuitable for large volumes of exports.

In an attempt to reduce dependency on banana exports, Dominica's government has tried to establish the island as an offshore financial center, offering tax-exempt status to banks, insurance companies, and other International Business Companies (IBCs). So far, a small number of IBCs have established themselves on the island. Of concern to critics of the system is the availability of "economic citizenship" to investors, which enables foreign residents to acquire a Dominican passport in return for a minimum investment in the island. The U.S. State Department has expressed concerns about money laundering and other illegal activity in connection with this initiative.

Despite attempts to broaden its economic base, Dominica remains critically dependent on agricultural exports and especially on the threatened banana trade. The resulting uncertainty from this trade has fueled migration since the mid-1990s and led to a decline in production and exports. Rural poverty is a large problem, and economic growth has faltered in recent years due to the banana crisis and natural disasters.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Upon gaining independence in 1978, Dominica established a single-chamber parliament under its constitution. The House of Assembly has 21 elected and 9 appointed members. The parliament elects a president, who acts as head of state and elects the prime minister and the cabinet. The country is split into 10 administrative districts, called parishes. Each is named after a Roman Catholic saint.

In the immediate aftermath of independence from the United Kingdom in 1978 Dominica witnessed considerable political turbulence. Stability took hold between 1980 and 1995, when the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), led by Eugenia Charles, won 3 consecutive terms in office. After a victory by the United Workers Party (UWP) in 1995, the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) and DFP formed a coalition government in early 2000. The sudden death of DLP leader and prime minister Rosie Douglas in October that year led to former minister of communications and works, Pierre Charles, taking over the position of prime minister.

The DLP has been traditionally more left-wing in outlook than the conservative DFP, which has favored strong links with the United States and a robust, pro-business approach to government. The coalition government of 2000 was hence a pragmatic response to the popularity of the UWP, which draws much of its support from the island's banana farmers. In reality, there are few major policy differences between the 3 main parties, with all supporting the beleaguered banana industry and encouraging diversification and direct foreign investment. The main political difference between the DLP-DFP coalition government and its UWP predecessor has been the decision to abandon plans for a new airport and hotel development in the northeast on the grounds of cost and environmental impact.

The government has a direct impact on Dominica's economy as a large employer and because it establishes the legal and regulatory framework for foreign investment. It raises revenues through a mixture of income tax , indirect taxes , and fees levied on offshore companies. In July 2000, the government announced that it would replace most existing indirect taxes levied on consumption and imported goods with a single value-added tax (VAT).

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Because of its mountainous landscape and rugged shoreline, Dominica's infrastructure is extremely limited. Its roads, mostly confined to the coast, total 780 kilometers (485 miles), of which 393 kilometers (244 miles) are paved. Most of the island is totally inaccessible by car, and many rural roads are little more than impassable dirt tracks. There are no railways, while the 2 main commercial ports are to be found at Woodridge Bay, near Roseau, and the northwest coast town of Portsmouth. There are also cruise ship facilities at Roseau and at Prince Rupert Bay, near Portsmouth. The island has 2 airports, Melville Hall, in the northeast, and Canefield, north of Roseau. While both have paved runways, neither is able to receive large aircraft. Connections from Europe and North America must be made in Puerto Rico, Antigua, or other larger regional airports.

Telecommunications are also underdeveloped, although cellular phone usage and Internet access are growing, due in part to the development of the offshore financial sector. In 2000, the government announced its intention to liberalize the telecommunications sector by inviting foreign companies to compete in providing services.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

According to estimates in 1999, agriculture still accounts for 21 percent of Dominica's gross domestic product (GDP), and employs 40 percent of the island's workforce. Bananas are the main agricultural product and export, earning US$17 million in 1998. But production and exports have fallen since 1994, due to uncertainty over the industry's long-term future and adverse weather conditions.

Industry accounted for 16 percent of GDP in 1999 and is dominated by a handful of agribusinesses , specializing in soap, dental cream, and beverages. Attempts to build up an export-oriented assembly sector have not led to sustained success.

Services, led by tourism, contributed 63 percent to GDP in 1999. This sector, together with a recently launched financial services sector, is of growing importance to Dominica's economy.

Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Dominica 19,000 (1996) 461 (1996) AM 3; FM 10; shortwave 0 46,000 0 6,000 16 2,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Jamaica 353,000 (1996) 54,640 (1996) AM 10; FM 13; shortwave 0 1.215 M 7 460,000 21 60,000
St. Lucia 37,000 1,600 AM 2; FM 7; shortwave 0 111,000 3 32,000 15 5,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

AGRICULTURE

Unlike many other Caribbean island nations, Dominica was never a suitable site for sugarcane cultivation, as rocky and mountainous terrain made plantation production impossible. Only about one-quarter of the island is cultivatable. Climate, fertility, and topography are favorable for tree crops, however, and Dominica has been a producer of coffee, cocoa, and citrus fruits in its history. Citrus crops are still important, being grown for export to other Caribbean islands, but the biggest share of agricultural production since the 1950s has belonged to bananas. Like St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, Dominica experienced a "banana boom" in the 1980s when it was assured access into the U.K. market. Stable prices brought modest prosperity to many banana-growing communities. During the 1970s and 1980s, banana exports from Dominica tripled in volume, peaking at 70 percent of export earnings. The dangers of this one-crop dependency became evident in 1979 and 1980 when Hurricanes David and Allen destroyed much of the banana crop. Widespread damage due to hurricanes and tropical storms has been experienced again in 1989 (Hurri-cane Hugo) and 1995, when Hurricane Luis destroyed an estimated 95 percent of banana plants. Then in November 1999, Hurricane Lenny caused considerable damage to banana and other agricultural production. Fortunately, bananas are quick to produce fruit after planting and are hence a suitable crop in hurricane-prone areas.

A much greater threat to Dominica's banana industry, however, is the threatened removal of preferential market access into Europe for the island's exports. In 1995, the United States and several Latin American banana-exporting countries complained that the European Union (EU) was breaching international free-trade legislation by offering protected quotas to banana exports from former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. This has brought the future of the EU banana regime into question. If the EU is forced by international pressure to dismantle its existing arrangement with exporters such as Dominica, the island will be forced to compete directly for the European market with large producers from Latin America. Experts agree that Dominica, with its small, family-run banana farms, cannot compete with the large, labor-intensive plantations in countries such as Ecuador or Honduras and will be forced to abandon bananas altogether. As a result, the number of banana farmers has already fallen from 4,366 in 1995 to 2,534 in 1999. One small possibility is that Dominica, together with other Windward island producers, may be able to supply a growing organic and "fair trade" market in Europe.

Given Dominica's topography (layout of land), there are few obvious alternatives to banana cultivation, although some moves to diversify agriculture have already taken place. At the same time, the Dominica Banana Marketing Corporation introduced a recovery plan in 1999 in an attempt to restore confidence among growers and to improve the quality of banana exports. With financial assistance from STABEX grants (money paid by the EU to support agricultural exporters in certain developing countries), the corporation encouraged farmers to replant bananas and to invest in fertilizer and other inputs. As a result, banana production in 1999 increased slightly from the previous year, earning US$11.5 million in the first 9 months of 1999 before the arrival of Hurricane Lenny.

Apart from bananas, Dominica produces a wide range of agricultural produce, both for local consumption (it is self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables) and for export. Some exports are directed to the French overseas territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and there is a thriving network of small traders and inter-island commerce. Coconuts, citrus fruit, and essential oils are the main regional exports.

There is a relatively large fishing industry in Dominica, but it is not modernized and almost exclusively serves the domestic market. A successful experiment in fresh-water prawn farming, supported by Taiwanese aid, has produced substantial amounts of prawns for the domestic and local markets. Japan has provided support for a fish landing and processing plant in Roseau.

INDUSTRY

Dominica's small manufacturing sector is almost entirely dependent on agriculture, and the island has built up a handful of successful industries specializing in soaps and other agricultural byproducts. The largest manufacturer is Dominica Coconut Products, controlled by Colgate-Palmolive, which produces soap from coconuts. The factory has an agreement to sell an estimated 3 million bars of soap each year to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Dominican soap is also exported throughout the region, but has recently encountered intensified competition from other regional producers, especially in the important export markets of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Other manufacturing is largely restricted to cardboard boxes and beverages, while there is a small export-oriented sector producing clothing. Dominica has not yet been able to attract significant numbers of foreign manufacturers, partly because its wage rates are relatively high and partly because its infrastructure is not suited to high-volume manufacturing. Like other islands, it seeks to attract investors with tax concessions and other financial inducements, but several offshore manufacturing plants have closed after their duty -free concessions expired, normally a 10-year span.

There is some mining potential in Dominica, especially in the island's northeast where there are believed to be deposits of copper.

SERVICES

Dominica's tourist industry is in its infancy compared to other Caribbean islands. For many years its rugged terrain, lack of beaches, and underdeveloped infrastructure prevented large-scale tourist development. In recent years, Dominica has successfully marketed itself as the "nature island of the Caribbean," seeking to attract "eco-tourists" interested in landscapes and wildlife. The government realizes that intensive tourism is incompatible with preserving the island's eco-system and in 1997 signed an agreement with Green Globe, the environmental division of the World Travel and Tourism Council, to develop the island as a "model ecotourism destination." The 3-year program provided technical expertise on environmental management as well as helping to market Dominica through specialist travel companies.

At the same time, the government has encouraged a steady increase in Dominica's tourism capacity, with several new hotels being built and considerable investment in cruise ship facilities. The new cruise ship jetty at Prince Rupert Bay, near Portsmouth, has dramatically increased the number of ships calling annually and brought significant tourism-related opportunities to the formerly depressed community of Portsmouth. Annual tourist arrivals are estimated at approximately 200,000, of whom about 75,000 are stay-over visitors. The great majority are cruise ship visitors who spend limited time and money on the island. Tourism receipts in 1998 were estimated at US$15.5 million.

Dominica's tourism industry is mostly small in scale and locally owned, with extensive links to other areas of the economy. Unlike other Caribbean islands, visitors are fed with locally produced food, and Dominica does not unduly extend its import bill by importing foodstuffs for the tourist sector. There is also considerable " trickle down " of tourism revenues, with retailers, restaurateurs, and tourist guides benefiting directly from the industry. On the other hand, critics point out that even restricted tourism can have a damaging impact on the environment, especially at the selected sites of natural beauty visited by large numbers of cruise ship tourists.

If the tourism industry has caused some controversy by threatening to spoil Dominica's fragile ecosystem, some initiatives taken by the government since the 1990s have been even more open to criticism. Like other small Caribbean economies, Dominica has tried to broaden its economic base by building up an offshore financial services sector. So far, a relatively small number of offshore banks and other international business companies (IBCs) have registered in Dominica, but the government is trying to attract more by making registration economical and easy. A Dominica-based IBC can, for instance, be formed over the Internet, and the government has also granted operating licenses to several Internet gambling companies. The ease with which such companies can be formed and the secrecy surrounding their operations have led some critics to allege that Dominica may be facilitating money-laundering and tax evasion.

Even more controversial has been the issuing of "economic citizenship" to foreign nationals. This means that Dominican passports are provided in return for an

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Dominica
Exports Imports
1975 .011 .021
1980 .010 .048
1985 .028 .055
1990 .055 .118
1995 .045 .117
1998 N/A .136
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

agreed minimum investment, which is supposedly used to develop the national economy. The first economic citizens were mostly Taiwanese, but in 1999 it was reported that 300 Russians had bought Dominican passports for US$50,000 each. This has encouraged allegations that the island may be involved in Mafia-style economic activity.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Dominica, although largely self-sufficient in food production, imports approximately twice as much in value as it exports, with imports of US$120.4 million dwarfing exports of US$60.8 million in 1998. Its main export markets are other Caribbean countries, which buy its vegetables, fruit, and soap, and the EU, which imports its bananas. Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries accounted for about 47 percent of Dominica's exports throughout the 1990s, and Europe for 36 percent. The United States imports little from Dominica, but is the main source of the island's imports (an average of 41 percent in the 1990s), notably machinery and manufactured goods. Dominica's other main suppliers are the CARICOM countries and Britain.

MONEY

After steady growth in the 1980s and early 1990s, Dominica's economy slowed in the late 1990s because of the banana crisis, hurricane damage, and a decline in manufacturing output. GDP growth from 1996 averaged 2.8 percent annually, a lower rate than neighboring countries, and in 1999 there was no growth at all, due largely to damage from Hurricane Lenny. As a result, inflation has been low since the mid-1990s.

Dominica's currency, the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), shared with the 7 other members of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), is stable and has been pegged at a rate of EC$2.7 to US$1 for many years. This means that Dominica is not particularly vulnerable to fluctuating exchange rates , although transactions with

Exchange rates: Dominica
East Caribbean dollars (EC$) per US$1
Jan 2001 2.7000
2000 2.7000
1999 2.7000
1998 2.7000
1997 2.7000
1996 2.7000
Note: Dominican currency has been at a fixed rate since 1976.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

Europe have been affected by the low value of the euro. There are plans for ECCB member countries to participate in a regional stock exchange, further integrating the economies of the small islands.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

Dominica is one of the poorer countries of the Eastern Caribbean, but there are not enormous disparities in income. Traditionally a country of small peasant farmers, the island has a small urban middle class, made of professionals and civil servants, and a small urban working class. There are very few extremely wealthy Dominicans, although this may change with the advent of the "economic citizenship" program and the expected in-flux of rich foreigners. The wealthy few are, for the most part, descended from the plantation-owning elite of colonial times, although Dominica was never the source of enormous wealth and so, unlike Barbados for example, there is no "plantocracy." Although there are luxury homes around the capital, there is little ostentatious wealth, and Roseau does not have the facilities to cater to a millionaire lifestyle.

The poorest Dominicans live in remote rural districts, particularly in the north. Unemployment is officially estimated at around 20 percent of the population and, with the decline in the banana industry, is likely to increase. The poorest social stratum includes the descendants of

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Dominica N/A 1,679 2,142 2,862 3,310
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Jamaica 1,819 1,458 1,353 1,651 1,559
St. Lucia N/A 2,076 2,150 3,542 3,907
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Dominica 33 6 11 3 6 8 33
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Jamaica 24 7 3 1 9 8 48
St. Lucia 40 5 11 4 17 11 11
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

the Caribs, who eke out a unstable living from subsistence farming , handicrafts, and boat-building. Social facilities in the countryside are highly limited, and Dominicans have to travel to Roseau for most medical attention. Primary schools are distributed throughout the island, but most higher education takes place in and around the capital. According to UNESCO, there were a total of 152 schools in 1995, with 12,627 pupils attending 64 primary schools. Primary school education is free and compulsory, but families normally have to pay for schoolbooks and uniforms. Basic health care is widely available, but there are fees for doctors, for medicines, and for some hospital treatment. There is little state-organized social security, but church groups and other voluntary agencies are active in supporting homes and nurseries for the elderly.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Working conditions in Dominica are average for the region, although many Dominicans work on small family-run farms without regulation or trade union representation. There are only 2 trade unions of any size or influence, one representing civil servants and the others port and dockside workers. Wages in the small industrial sector are average for the Caribbean, standing at between US$100 and US$250 monthly, while wages in agriculture, where most workers are self-employed small farmers, are lower. Educational attainment can facilitate a career in the financial or associated informatics sector, and it is here that the highest wages, other than those earned by traditional professionals such as lawyers and doctors, can be earned. Physical working conditions in agriculture are arduous, and there is the risk of exposure to insecticides and other chemical inputs. Conditions in the few factories are generally satisfactory.

There is some informal sector activity in Dominica, with some related child labor, especially in agriculture and handicraft manufacturing. Women are well-represented in every area of employment.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1494. Dominica sighted by Columbus.

1763. British take possession of island after a century of conflict with France.

1903. Establishment of Carib Territory in northeast of island.

1950s. First banana exports to Britain.

1978. Independence from the United Kingdom.

1979. Hurricane David devastates Dominica; 37 killed, 60,000 left homeless.

1980. Eugenia Charles wins elections, staying in power until 1995.

1983. Prime Minister Charles supports U.S. invasion of Grenada.

2000. Coalition government formed between Dominica Labour Party and Dominica Freedom Party; premature death of Prime Minister Rosie Douglas.

FUTURE TRENDS

Dominica's immediate economic future depends to a large degree on the outcome of the dispute between the World Trade Organization and the EU over the question of banana exports into Europe. If the EU is forced to abandon its preferential treatment of suppliers such as Dominica, the island will face a dramatic and possibly traumatic period of economic hardship. Even if a reprieve occurs, it will have to accelerate its efforts to create a more diversified economy with less dependency on agriculture in general and bananas in particular. There will undoubtedly be some international aid available for facilitating the diversification process, but few alternative crops will be able to offer the security and regularity of income offered by bananas.

Dominica is hampered by its topography and lack of infrastructure in terms of developing its tourist industry. But a massive influx of tourists would, in any case, damage its eco-tourism credentials and lessen the island's appeal as an exclusive nature destination. In the coming years, Dominica will have to balance the need for tourism revenue against the necessity of restricting visitor numbers in the interest of the environment. It remains to be seen whether Dominica's bid to join the Caribbean's offshore financial centers will be successful, but initial signs are not entirely promising.

The island remains unusually vulnerable, not just to devastating hurricanes, but also to economic decisions and developments beyond its control. Even its small manufacturing sector will have to face increased competition from other regional producers as the Caribbean's trade becomes more and more liberalized. Given these uncertainties, it is unlikely that the island will be able to make major steps in reducing poverty, unemployment, or high levels of migration in the near future.

DEPENDENCIES

Dominica has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Honychurch, Lennox. The Dominica Story. London: Macmillan,1995.

Caribbean Development Bank, Annual Report 1999. Barbados,2000.

Dominica: South America, Central America and the Caribbean 2001. London: Europa Publications, 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile: OECS. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2000.

International Monetary Fund. <http://www.imf.org/external/np>. Accessed June 2001.

Welcome to a Virtual Dominica. <http://www.delphis.dm>. Accessed February 2001.

James Ferguson

CAPITAL:

Roseau.

MONETARY UNIT:

Dominica's currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$). One EC dollar equals 100 cents. There are coins of 10, 20, and 50 cents. Paper money comes in bills of 1, 5, 10, and 20 dollars.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Bananas, soap, bay oil, vegetables, grapefruit, oranges.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, food, chemicals.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$225 million (1998 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$60.8 million (1998). Imports: US$120.4 million (1998).

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Dominica

Dominica

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Commonwealth of Dominica
Region: Puerto Rico & Lesser Antilles
Population: 71,540
Language(s): English, French patois
Literacy Rate: 94%



History & Background

The island of Dominica is part of the Lesser Antilles, located between the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea, with a population of 74,900 people (1996). The island is approximately 754 square kilometers (290 square miles). The capital city of Dominica is Roseau.


Educational SystemOverview

Education is free and is provided by both government and denominational schools. Attendance is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 15 years. The educational system is divided into four main categories: preprimary, primary, secondary, and tertiary and is governed by the Ministry of Education. The system is modeled after the British (levels) and North American (grade) structures. Primary education begins at the age of five and lasts for seven years. Secondary education begins at the age of twelve and lasts for five years. Gross enrollment in 1999 at the preschool and primary level for children aged 5 to 11 was 15,982. Gross enrollment at the secondary level was 7,356 in 1999. Females accounted for 47.1 percent of enrollment in 2000 at the primary level and 57.0 percent of enrollment at the secondary level. The grading system (1997) for both primary and secondary schools is as follows: Excellent (85 percent to 100 percent); Very Good (70 percent to 84 percent); Good (55 percent to 69 percent); Improvement Needed (40 percent to 54 percent); Poor (26 percent to 39 percent); Ungraded (0 percent to 25 percent).

The educational system of Dominica consists of:

  • 83 preprimary schoolsall privately owned, managed, and funded;
  • 63 primary schools53 are government-owned, 5 are government-assisted, and 5 are private;
  • 15 secondary schools6 are government-owned, 8 are government-assisted, and 1 private-grant aided;
  • 1 school for the hearing impaired (governmentfunded);
  • 1 school for the mentally challenged (privately and government-funded); and
  • Clifton Dupigny Community College; Dominica Teachers Training College; and Princess Margaret Hospital School of Nursing.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary and primary education is free and compulsory and is provided in public, assisted, and private (independent) schools. Enrollment of eligible students between the ages of 5 to 11 years was 98 percent in 1999. At the preprimary level, the student-teacher ratio was 18:1. At the primary level, the ratio was 22:1. The highest student-teacher ratio was in the government-assisted schools (25:1), with the lowest being at the private schools (20:1). The student-teacher ratio was lower in rural areas (21:1) than in urban areas (24:1). At the end of grade 6, primary students sit for the Common Entrance Examination (CEE), which determines entrance into secondary education. Transition rates from the primary to the secondary level are among the lowest in the Caribbean, with only 60 percent of the 12- to 16-year-olds enrolled in secondary education. The Junior Secondary Program is available for those students who were not selected by the CEE to enroll in secondary school. This is a three-year program that leads to a select number of students being able to enter formal secondary school. A review of the CEE shows that, at the primary level of education, girls consistently outperform boys in all subjects, leading to a higher level of representation at the secondary level. The overall repetition rate for primary school students in 1998 was 3.3 percent, with males having a slightly higher repetition rate of 3.5 percent. The overall dropout rate at the primary level was 0.16 percent in 1999, again, with males having a higher average rate of 0.25 percent.


Secondary Education

The main objective of the 15 secondary schools is to prepare students for the successful completion of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examination, which determines entry into college. The secondary school system is divided into two cycles: a junior division for students normally between the ages of 12 to 14; and a senior division of secondary education for students older than the age of 14. To enter secondary school, all students are required to pass the CEE exam. The teacher-student ratio at the secondary level in 1999 was 18:1. The overall repetition rate was 9.9 percent in 2000, with males having a higher degree of repetition of 13 percent. The overall dropout rate at the secondary level was 2.8 percent in 1998, with males leaving school at a rate of 3.8 percent.


Higher Education

Secondary students who perform well (passing in five or more of their classes) on the examination(s) qualify for entry into postsecondary institutions. Postsecondary students have four options for enrollment: Clifton Dupigny Community College; The Teacher's Training College; Princess Margaret Hospital School of Nursing; and The University of West Indies.

Clifton Dupigny Community College (CDCC) was created in 1983 and consists of two "branches" or strands of instruction: the Academic Studies Division and the Technical Studies Division. The Academic Studies Division grants levels of certification and offers courses/majors in mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, computer sciences, geography, accounts, economics, sociology, history, Spanish, French, and English composition. Of the 460 students enrolled in 1998, approximately 70 percent were female.

The Technical Studies Division offers full-time, two-year diploma courses as well as one- and two-year certificate courses. Courses are offered in engineering as well as building and technical trades. Females accounted for only 20 percent of enrollment at this level in 1998.

Dominica Teachers Training College (DTTC) is a two-year, full-time program leading to certification accredited by the University of the West Indies. The DTTC offers certification in both primary and secondary education. The DTTC graduates roughly 30 teachers annually.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) is available to students who have successfully completed all levels of their secondary studies and have passed the Caribbean Examination Council exam. On Dominica, UWI offers several part-time distance education courses that lead to certificates in public administration, business administration, and education.


Special Needs Education: The School for the Hearing Impaired and the Alpha Center are the two facilities that provide educational services for special needs students. The main objective of the Alpha Center is to educate students to be able to function independently in society to the highest degree possible. The Alpha Center also runs an early intervention program where young children, with their parents, learn to socialize and are taught rudimentary reading/writing skills.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The educational affairs of Dominica are overseen by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology. The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology is administered by a chief education officer, an assistant chief education officer, and several district education and specialist education officers. The Ministry also houses specialized units such as the Curriculum Development Unit, the Textbook Distribution Unit, the Education Planning Unit, the Measurement and Evaluation Unit, the Learning Support/Secretariat Unit, and the Materials Production Unit.

The total expenditure for education in 2000 was roughly $42 million, with primary education consuming the largest share of resources at 51.7 percent, followed by secondary education at 24.8 percent, postsecondary education at 7.0 percent, and contributions to the University of the West Indies at 5.0 percent. Total annual per-pupil expenditures in 1999 were as follows: preprimary ($60.07); primary ($1,405.45); secondary ($1,542.87); and postsecondary ($4,311.10).


Teaching Profession

To become a certified teacher, candidates must have attained four subject-passes on the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), including both English and mathematics. Teacher training is completed at Dominica Teachers Training College. The teacher-training program and subsequent courses are administered under the auspices of the Faculty of Education of the University of West Indies.

There is a lack of certified teachers particularly at the primary level. In 1999 only 64 percent of the primary teachers were certified. The majority (41 percent) of trained primary school teachers in 1998 were located in the western portion of the island, and 77 percent of the teachers taught at public institutions in 2000. The student-teacher ratio for qualified primary teachers in 1999 varied between 31:1 and 50:1, dependent upon the district. At the secondary level, only 31 percent of the teachers were trained to teach the content appropriate for their individual grade levels. The student-teacher ratio for qualified secondary teachers in 1999 averaged 53:1 yet could be as low as 21:1, based on individual districts. The vast majority of secondary school teachers were employed at either public schools (53 percent) or assisted schools (44 percent).

Women dominate the education profession at both the primary and secondary levels. At the primary level, roughly 80 percent of the staff were women in 2000. And at the secondary level, women accounted for 66 percent of school personnel.


Summary

Arguably, the facet of Dominican education needing the most attention is the area of teacher training. The majority of teachers are not certified. At the secondary level, there is no policy of continuous teacher training. Male teachers, particularly at the primary level, are scarce (representing only 20 percent of all primary teachers). Attrition rates among unqualified and temporary teachers, who form the bulk of the teaching force, are high. It is felt that the needs of Dominica's educational system is as follows: all teachers be certified to teach in their content areas; a continuing education program for all teachers be implemented; and male teachers should be actively recruited.

In an effort to increase professional development opportunities and to offer training to unqualified teachers, the Ministry of Education implemented the Teacher Training Project. This project trained unqualified teachers through select coursework. Also, professional development courses were offered for 50 principals and senior teachers. Though this project is surely a step in the right direction, it needs to be expanded to include supplemental training and professional development opportunities for all teachers.

Most promising and ambitious is the Long Term Education Development Plan. The Education Development Plan offers a philosophical and pedagogical blueprint for the education of Dominica for six years (1999-2005). The primary purpose is to raise student achievement with the premise that education leads to increased national and regional development. The Plan has six major components (Andrew 1999):

  • strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Education, improving the qualifications and professional development of the teaching staff, and strengthening the capacity of institutions through improved management and performance review
  • establishing a Preprimary Council and increasing accessibility to quality preprimary provision through a partnership with the private sector
  • introducing a National Curriculum and National Testing for primary and secondary schools and minimizing grade repetition and achieving Universal Secondary Education by 2003-2005
  • establishing new levels of staffing and employment and conducting a review of small schools so as to consolidate them either through linking or closure where these are ineffective and inefficient
  • improving reaching and learning materials and the provision of free textbooks for core subjects as well as new levels of professional development
  • expanding access to tertiary education and the range of course provision, improving the management of tertiary provision by amalgamating current colleges and raising finances to enhance operations.

Bibliography

Andrew, Max. The Education System of Dominica: An Overview. Roseau: Education Planning Unit, 1999.

Ministry of Education, Science, & Technology. Indicators 2000. Roseau: Education Planning Unit, 2000.


Tim Lintner

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Dominica

Dominica

Official name: Commonwealth of Dominica

Area: 754 square kilometers (291 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Morne Diablotins (1,447 meters/4,748 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Western

Time zone: 8 a.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 26 kilometers (16 miles) from east to west; 47 kilometers (29 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 148 kilometers (92 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Dominica, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, lies at the midpoint of the Lesser Antilles, between the French possessions of Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south. It is often, but not always, considered one of the Windward Islands. With an area of 754 square kilometers (291 square miles), Dominica is slightly more than twice as large as the state of New Hampshire. The lush vegetation and abundant wildlife of the country's rain forests have led Dominica to proclaim itself "The Nature Island of the Caribbean."

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Dominica claims no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

Tempered by sea breezes, Dominica's tropical climate is generally mild and pleasant. Summer temperatures average 28°C (82°F) and may rise as high as 32°C (90°F). Winter temperatures average 25°C (77°F). Dominica has a dry season in the spring and a rainy season in summer, with rainfall especially heavy during the hurricane season in late summer. Average annual rainfall ranges from about 191 centimeters (75 inches) near the coast to over 508 centimeters (200 inches) in the mountains.

Season Months Average temperature: °Celsius (°Fahrenheit
Summer April to September 28°C to32°C (82°F to 90°F).
Winter October to March 25°C (77°F)

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

The rugged, mountainous terrain that covers much of the interior is the island's outstanding physical feature. The Layou River plain at the center of the island bisects the two mountainous regions in the north and south.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Dominica is located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, at the midpoint of the Leeward Islands. Whales and dolphins swim in the waters surrounding Dominica, with humpback whales migrating to the area during the winter months.

Seacoast and Undersea Features

The mountainous terrain of Dominica extends under the sea. The waters surrounding the island are filled with coral reefs that support a diversity of marine life.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Guadeloupe lies to the north of Dominica, across the Dominica Passage; Martinique is south, across the Martinique Passage.

Islands and Archipelagos

Dominica is made up of one island in the

Coastal Features

A thin coastal strip lies between the sea and the mountains. The coast, which is heavily indented on the eastern side of the island, is fringed with coral reefs. Black, gray, and white volcanic sand is found on the beaches. Cape Capuchin marks the northern end of the island, with Prince Rupert Bay not far south. Scotts Head and Grand Bay are at the southern end of the island.

6 INLAND LAKES

Dominica has a number of thermally active lakes, of which the best known is Boiling Lake, in the southeastern part of the island.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

There are many streams and rivers, but none are navigable. The main rivers are Indian, Espagnol, Layou, Roseau, and Queens running west to the Caribbean Sea, and Hodges, Tweed, Clyde, Maclaralin, Grand Bay, Rosalie, and Wanerie running east to the Atlantic.

8 DESERTS

There are no desert areas on Dominica.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

There are no areas of flat or rolling terrain on Dominica.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Deep ridges, ravines, and valleys are etched in the densely wooded mountains. The island's highest peak, Morne Diablotins, is located in the mountains to the north. Its second-highest, Morne Trois Pitonswhich, at 1,387 meters (4,550 feet), is nearly as high as Diablotinsis situated in the south. Other high peaks include Morne au Diable, Morne Brule, Morne Couronne, Morne Anglais, and Morne Plat Pays.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

Scuba enthusiasts explore several underwater caves while diving in the waters surrounding Dominica.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

There are no plateaus on Dominica.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

There are no man-made features affecting the geography of Dominica.

DID YOU KNOW?

Morne Trois Pitons National Park features the scenic Trafalgar Falls (70 meters /200 feet), made up of two waterfalls that flow together into a deep green pool.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Philpott, Don. Dominica. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1996.

Sullivan, Lynne M. Dominica & St Lucia Alive! Edison, NJ: Hunter, 2002.

Web Sites

Commonwealth of Dominica Web Site. http://www.ndc.dominica.dm/ (accessed March 14, 2003)

The Nature Island of Dominica. http://home.freeuk.com/elloughton13/dominica.htm (accessed June 2, 2003).

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Dominica

Dominica (dŏmĬnē´kə), officially Commonwealth of Dominica, republic (2005 est. pop. 69,000) 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. 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.

Government

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.

History

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 and 2014.

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Dominica

Dominica

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Commonwealth of Dominica
Region (Map name): Caribbean
Population: 71,540
Language(s): English, French patois
Literacy rate: 94%

In the fourteenth century, Carib settlers called the island "Waitikubuli," which means "tall is her body." But the name that has stood the test of time is Dominica, granted by Christopher Columbus in 1493 to commemorate the Sunday on which he first sighted its shores.

Dominican media enjoys full freedom of speech. There is no daily newspaper, but the island does support five weeklies, all published in English. The Chronicle publishes on Friday and enjoys a circulation of approximately 3,000. Independent Publishing produces The Independent, which rivals The Chronicle in circulation numbers, and The Mirror, which is billed as a weekend newspaper and appears every Friday. Other weeklies are the Sun, which appears on Monday, and The Tropical Star, published on Wednesday. The Dominica Official Gazette is the island's government-sponsored newspaper. It published weekly from Roseau, the island's capital. The island also has an online news resource, www.newsdominica.com, which posts news and information from local newspapers, including The Chronicle and The Independent, every Friday.

Lying between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, it was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans. In 1763, Great Britain took possession of the island from France, declaring it a colony in 1805. Dominica became independent in 1978, operating as a parliamentary democracy.

The country's head of state is a President, who is elected by its legislature, the thirty-seat House of Assembly. The President then appoints a Prime Minister to head the government. The population is approximately seventy-one thousand, and 94 percent of the population is literate. English is the official language, but French patois is also spoken. The cornerstone of Dominica's economy is agriculture, especially bananas, and profitability often hinges on the weather. After devastating storms in 1994 and 1995, the government has pledged to diversify the economy by encouraging soap production, adventure tourism, and offshore financial services.

There are thirteen radio stations on the island, 10 FM and three AM, and approximately 46,000 radios. There are approximately 6,000 televisions but no local broadcasting station. There are 16 Internet service providers

Bibliography

Benn's Media, Vol. 3, Ed. 147. 1999

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact Book 2001. 2001. Available from http://www.odci.gov/cia.

Country Profile: Domica BBC News. 2002. Available from http://news.bbc.co.uk.

News Dominica. 2002. Available from http://www.newsdominica.com.

Jenny B. Davis

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Dominica

Dominica Independent island nation in the e Caribbean Sea, West Indies; the capital and chief port is Roseau. The largest of the Windward Islands, it was named after dies dominica (Sunday), the day it Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1493. The original inhabitants were Carib, but the present population are mainly the descendants of African slaves. Dominica is mountainous and heavily forested, and the climate is tropical. Britain and France disputed Dominica until Britain asserted full control in 1783. It became a British crown colony in 1805, and was a member of the Federation of the West Indies (1958–62). It achieved complete independence as a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1978. Eugenia Charles was the first woman prime minister (1980–95) in the West Indies. Dominica is one of the poorest Caribbean countries (2000 GDP per capita US$4000). Agriculture dominates the economy. In 1979 and 1980, hurricane damage severely reduced production. Exports: copra, bananas, citrus fruit. Area: 750sq km (290sq mi). Pop. (2000) 87,000. See West Indies map

http://www.avirtualdominica.com

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Dominica

Dominica

Culture Name

Dominican

Alternative Names

Commonwealth of Dominica; Dominique

Orientation

Identification. Sighted on 3 November 1493 during Christopher Columbus's second voyage to the "New World," Dominica was named for the day: dies Dominica, "the Lord's Day" or "Sunday" in Latin. Carib Indians from South America had inhabited the island for almost six hundred years and other Amerindians had been there for as long as three thousand years, but their name for the island, Waitukubuli, meaning "Tall is her body," was not recorded for another two centuries. Spain soon lost interest in the island, but France and England fought each other and the Caribs for control throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. After changing hands several times and two centuries of continuous British rule, Dominica became an independent republic on 3 November 1978.

Location and Geography. Not to be confused with the nearby Dominican Republic, Dominica is located between French-controlled Martinique and Guadeloupe in the eastern Caribbean. The capital, Roseau, is located on the calm Caribbean Sea on the western coast; the rougher Atlantic Ocean forms the island's eastern shore. Though only 29 miles (47 kilometers) long and 16 miles (26 kilometers) wide, those who have tried to settle and develop the island through the centuries have been frustrated with the difficulties of accessing its 290 square miles (751 square kilometers) of land area. With peaks over 4,500 feet (1,370 meters) high, it is the most mountainous island in the Lesser Antilles and one of the last islands in the Caribbean to be colonized. It provided refuge for indigenous Caribs and later for maroons (escaped slaves), and never developed the large-scale sugar plantations that characterized other colonies. Lush tropical rainforests cover two-thirds of the island, and annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches (127 centimeters) on the coast to 300 inches (762 centimeters) in the mountains. Its volcanic origin is evident in bubbling sulphur springs and the Boiling Lake, located in the 17,000-acre (6,885 hectare) Trois Pitons National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998). The island has few white sand beaches, but numerous waterfalls and rivers (Dominicans say there is one for each day of the year).

Demography. The 1991 population census counted 71,183 persons and provided an estimate for 1998 of 74,300 people. About twenty thousand reside in Roseau and its environs, reflecting the "drift" to the urban center during the last several decades of the twentieth century. A majority of the population, 89 percent, is of African descent, 7 percent are of mixed race, and 2 percent are Carib. The remaining 2 percent identify as white, Syrian Lebanese, East Indian, Chinese, and Portuguese.

Linguistic Affiliation. The country's complex colonial past is reflected in its languages. English has been the official language since the British took control in 1763, but it ranges from the standard varieties spoken in Roseau to creolized varieties in rural villages. A distinct English-based creole called Kokoy is spoken in Wesley and Marigot, two villages on the Atlantic coast that were settled by Methodist missionaries, estate owners, and their slave laborers from Antigua and other Leeward Islands in the late eighteenth century. The last fluent speaker of the Carib language reportedly died in the 1920s, although efforts are now being made to revive that language. A French-based creole, known officially as Kwéyo`l but also commonly called Patois or Patwa, arose in the early eighteenth century through contact between French colonizers and enslaved West Africans. Once the primary oral language of the rural population, its use is now declining among the younger generations. The Konmité Pou Etid Kwéyo`l (Committee for Creole Studies) was created in 1981 as part of the government's Cultural Division to document, promote, and preserve the language.

Symbolism. Dominica's national motto is Apres Bondie C'est La Ter, "After God, it is the land," emphasizing the country's French-creole heritage, strong religious orientation, and dependence on the soil. The national flag depicts a Sisserou parrot, found only in Dominica, within a red circle surrounded by ten green stars representing the parishes of the country; this is centered on a cross in yellow, black, and white stripes on a green background representing the lushness of its rainforests. The three-colored cross symbolizes the Trinity of God; yellow represents the main agricultural products (bananas and citrus); white, the clarity of its rivers and waterfalls; and black, the rich volcanic soil and its African heritage. The national flower, the indigenous Bois Caribe ("Carib wood"), was chosen because of its hardiness and for having persisted throughout human habitation of the island. It is said to represent the nation's history and continuity, and the ruggedness and resourcefulness of its people.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Geography has played a guiding role in the island's history. Due to the mountainous terrain and the resistant Caribs who inhabited it, Dominica was unclaimed by European powers until settled by French planters and missionaries in 1635. England, France's rival, soon vied for control. In 1686 both nations agreed to relinquish the island to the Caribs, yet repeatedly returned. By 1750, the Caribs had retreated to the rugged windward coast (they now reside in an area called the Carib Reserve). In 1763, France ceded Dominica to England in the Treaty of Paris. The French captured the island in 1778, but the English regained control in 1783.

The British concentrated in Roseau, and overseers ran estates for their absentee owners. The French, however, lived on small estates and remained well after the British took official control. A peasant-based agricultural economy and creole culture emerged. Maroons, often supplied with weapons by the French, terrorized the British from 1785 to 1814. Emancipation for all slaves was granted in 1834. Freed slaves from Dominica, Martinique, and Guadeloupe eventually took over the small estates. Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a black-controlled legislature following the abolition of slavery. Called the "Mulatto Ascendency," they played a powerful role in politics, government, and cultural affairs into the twentieth century.

Dominica became part of the Leeward Islands in 1833, but changed affiliation to the Windward Islands in 1940. The country became an associated state within the British Commonwealth in 1967 before claiming independence in 1978.

National Identity. Social and political unrest (including attempted coups in 1980 and 1981), economic instability, and the devastating Hurricane David in 1979 complicated the transition to independence. Further divisions included language and historical settlement patterns, as rural villages were relatively isolated from each other and from Roseau and Portsmouth, the second largest town, since colonization. Despite internal differences, the national identity embraced by urban intellectuals and the government was the cultural heritage highlighting French, African, and Carib influence, more than British. A discourse of development unites the country.

Ethnic Relations. The population is predominantly of African descent. The Carib reside primarily on the Carib Reserve, but aside from maintaining some ancestral practices (such as basket weaving and boat making), they live like rural peoples around the island. People who identify as Syrian, Lebanese, and Chinese own some of the largest businesses in Roseau. Although there is some ethnic stereotyping, more salient social divisions fall along class, language, education, and rural and urban lines.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Roseau is the island's center of government, commerce, health services, education, and communications. The largest French settlement, it was named after the reeds that grow along the nearby Roseau River. French houses grew up haphazardly around a central market square; when the British came to power, they planned the remaining streets and house lots on an orderly grid system. Most buildings are small-scale, ranging from Victorian wood and stone townhouses with large verandas and fretwork to newer, more hurricane-resistant concrete structures. The city is dwarfed by the multi-story cruise ships that call at its newly rebuilt port. A large black and white crucifix and shrine on Morne Bruce overlooks the city. Old stone forts built by the British and expanded by the French include Fort Young in Roseau (now a hotel) and Fort Shirley in Portsmouth (in Cabrits National Park).

Rural villages vary by population and size. Many have a school, health center, post office, one or more churches, and rum shops. Larger villages have a community center and playing field for cricket. Rural homes are traditionally made of wood with galvanized metal roofing, and are perched on stilts. They usually have two or three rooms and a separate outdoor kitchen with a coal pot, fire, or more modern gas stove. Most are sparsely furnished, though those who can afford it fill their homes with store-bought knicknacks, dishes, and appliances. Some larger Western-style concrete houses with recently-available amenities like electricity and indoor plumbing are being built. Yards are kept neat and clean in both rural and urban areas. People socialize at shops, community centers, churches, or on the street.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Dominica's rich volcanic soil and abundant rainfall are ideal for growing a variety of fruits, vegetables, and root crops. These are sold at market or by street vendors, but people typically grow enough for their own consumption. Bananas and plantains are central to rural diets, and are prepared in a variety of ways. The growing and processing of manioc into cassava bread and farina was once a major subsistence activity, but now wheat bread is widely available from local bakeries. Land crabs, river crayfish, opossum, agouti, and fish are caught where available. Locally raised livestock include goats, pigs, and some cows. Crapaud or "mountain chicken," a type of frog, is the national dish, but a more popular creole dish is roasted breadfruit with salted codfish, onions, and peppers cooked in oil. Imported frozen chicken and turkey parts, tinned milk and sausages, and packaged snacks are increasingly popular. Staple foods like flour, sugar, salt, and rice are purchased in town or from village shops. Individuals often sell homemade cakes, coconut milk ice pops, and sweets from their homes.

Urban residents obtain produce from relatives outside the city or purchase it at market. There are several large American-style supermarkets in Roseau, offering expensive imported goods. Most restaurants are located in Roseau and Portsmouth; in rural areas, shops may sell sandwiches or fried chicken. Kentucky Fried Chicken, an American fast food restaurant, opened in Roseau in 1997. When guests visit a home in both rural and urban areas, it is expected that some food or drink will be offered. Lunch is the largest meal of the day.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Holidays and important religious ceremonies are celebrated with the slaughtering of livestock and the preparation of large meals. Guests visit homes throughout the day and are given food, desserts, and alcoholic beverages or other drinks. Catholics make offerings of fruits and vegetables during church services or special masses.

Basic Economy. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, with bananas the chief export crop. Citrus and coconut products are also exported. The economy has historically relied on a successive monocrop strategy, but shifting markets, fluctuating prices, and natural disasters have recently increased calls to diversify.

Land Tenure and Property. In 1763, British surveyors divided the island into lots for sale; only 232 acres went to the Caribs. For the next two centuries, most large estates belonged to British or long-established French families. These were bought up during the "banana boom" of the 1950s by foreign investors and Dominican merchants and professionals moving into agriculture. Small-scale farmers remained scattered between the larger estates. In the 1970s, many estates were sold off in smaller plots. Today, land ownership with deed is highly valued by peasant farmers; land is also rented or worked by squatters. The Carib Reserve was expanded to 3,700 acres by British administrator Hesketh Bell in 1903, but by law it is communally owned by all its residents.

Commercial Activities. Agricultural products and manufactured goods including coconut soaps, bay leaf oils, juice concentrates, rum, cigarettes, paint, and plastic sandals are produced for sale.

Major Industries. The major industries include food processing, coconut product manufacturing, paint production, rum distilling, and handicrafts. There is a small commercial fishing industry and some commerce in timber and pumice. Tourism is developing, but is hindered by a lack of accommodations and an international airport. Billed as "The Nature Island of the Caribbean," recent efforts promote cultural ecotourism. Day cruise ship visits increased dramatically in the 1990s.

Trade. Imports total twice as much as exports. Manufactured goods, food, machinery, and chemicals are imported, chiefly from the United States. Agricultural produce is exported to CARICOM countries and the United Kingdom. CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market), a treaty established and signed by most Caribbean nations in 1973, coordinates foreign policies and economic integration. Bananas are sold to Geest, a British multinational corporation. Merchants travel to neighboring islands to sell agricultural produce and handicrafts.

Division of Labor. Professional positions, including highly desirable government jobs, generally require secondary and usually some post-secondary education. Rural villagers are predominantly peasant farmers, and sometimes run small businesses. Larger businesses are owned by upper-class Dominicans and Syrian and Lebanese merchants.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Prime determiners of social class are wealth, level of education, occupation, and family history including family name, and class may change through educational advancement or pursuit of a prestigious occupation. The wealthier upper classes are concentrated in Roseau, but there are also marked differences in social class and status in rural villages.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Styles of dress, food, and language were traditionally major symbols of class differentiation, and strongly reflected rural/urban differences. Today, however, rural folk desire the same goods and modern conveniences as urbanites. English still tends to be associated with the educated upper classes and Kwéyo`l with lower-class peasants, but this is changing as rural areas become more accessible and education more widespread.

Political Life

Government. Dominica has a British parliamentarian system of government, headed by a president and prime minister. The thirty-member unicameral House of Assembly has twenty-one elected and nine appointed senators, plus the Speaker of the House. A local government system allocates each village a council headed by a chairman (called a chief in the Carib Reserve).

Leadership and Political Officials. There are three principal political parties: the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), and the United Workers Party (UWP). The DFP, headed by Dame Eugenia Charles, governed from 1980 until 1995. Charles, known as the "Iron Lady of the Caribbean," was the first female Caribbean prime minister. She supported former United States president Ronald Reagan in the 1983 invasion of Grenada. The UWP, under the leadership of Prime Minister Edison James, won the 1995 elections. In 2000, it lost to the DLP and Prime Minister Rosie Douglas, who died after eight months in office. He was replaced by Prime Minister Pierre Charles in October 2000.

Elections are held every five years and are generally peaceful. Supporters travel the island in caravans by political party, and candidates often sprinkle campaign speeches with Kwéyo`l during rallies in rural villages. Political officials are generally respected and often invited to attend important meetings and events in villages; they may be severely criticized, however, if popular opinion turns against them.

Social Problems and Control. Since the early 1980s, crime has been very low. The police force is based in Roseau and maintains departments in larger villages. The court system is used to resolve land disputes and slander cases, but problems are usually settled within the family or village.

Military Activity. The police force includes a Special Service Unit and Coast Guard.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The Social Welfare Department was established in 1945. Since then, it has gradually expanded to include a national system of Social Security and various divisions such as Community Development, Local Government, Youth, Sports, Culture, and the Women's Desk.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been established since independence. They often work together and with the government to utilize limited funds for projects in rural development, agriculture, health, women, and culture. Funding and assistance come from churches (especially the Roman Catholic Church) and several international agencies including UNESCO, UNICEF, and the United States Peace Corps.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Women and girls are primarily responsible for childcare, cooking, and household chores. In rural areas, they often grow vegetables and raise small livestock. The majority of vendors at the open-air markets are women, and many women supplement household income by selling homemade sweets and baked goods, weaving baskets, or by working as house cleaners or childcare providers. Men harvest and sell bananas (the main export) and other crops, tend large livestock, fish, hunt, and work in construction. Both men and women are employed as professionals. Men hold more positions of authority in the churches, but both men and women are active in politics and village affairs.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Women's work is often valued less than men's work, although women's contributions are equally or more important to household maintenance. Women are criticized if they spend too much time out of the home, while men are allowed more freedom. Women, particularly as mothers, are very involved in community life and are often the center of extensive kin networks.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Only monogamous marriages are permitted by law. Marriage is based on individual choice, though generally limited by social class and religion. Many young people have children, often with multiple partners, and may cohabit for years before legally marrying, despite church disapproval. Men are expected to contribute financially to their children's upbringing, regardless of their relationship with the mother. Except among the upper classes, marriage usually comes later in life, after age thirty. Divorce is legal, but is rare and is frowned upon.

Domestic Unit. The household may be headed by a man or a woman. Households may consist of one person, a woman and her children (perhaps visited by her boyfriend), a nuclear family with the parents either married or cohabiting, or an extended household that includes several generations. Several families, often related through one matriarch, may have separate homes but share a common piece of land or yard with an outdoor kitchen or other resources.

Inheritance. The predominant inheritance practice is "family land," in which a parcel of land is owned jointly by descendants of the original owner, either male or female. Use of the land is determined by consensus or family tradition. Oral agreements frequently lead to disputes, but no part may be sold unless all co-owners agree.

Kin Groups. Kin groups extend beyond the household to include those related through blood lines, marriage, and friendship both within and outside the village; Dominicans frequently say that everyone on the island is related. Financial and material resources are often shared, and child fostering is common. Many households depend on money sent from relatives who have migrated overseas.

Socialization

Infant Care. Children are cared for primarily by their mothers, but also by other relatives, friends, and neighbors. In rural areas, families rarely have separate cribs or rooms for infants, and they stay with the rest of the family. Small babies are kept at home, but are soon brought along to the fields, river, and elsewhere. When they begin to walk and talk, children are given small household chores. Once they start primary school, they are expected to run errands and look after smaller children.

Child Rearing and Education. Children are expected to be obedient, and corporal punishment is used when a child is troublesome or rude. Yet both boys and girls are taught to stand up for themselves and to engage in verbal play and teasing. Education is increasingly valued and is seen as a way out of the rural farming life. Preschool is available to those who can afford it. All children can attend primary school from ages five to fifteen, but must get a high enough score on the Common Entrance Examination by age thirteen to secure one of the limited spaces in a secondary school. As Kwéyòl is widely thought to interfere with children's learning of English, many rural parents now try to speak only English with their children.

Higher Education. Post-secondary education is limited to the Teacher's Training College, the Clifton Dupigny Community College, and a small branch of the University of the West Indies for continuing education. Adult education classes are offered in Roseau, Portsmouth, and occasionally in villages. Further education or training must be obtained on other islands or elsewhere overseas. According to the 1991 census, only 2 percent of the population receives a university education.

Etiquette

Greetings such as "good morning" or "good afternoon" are the most basic form of social interaction. People are expected to greet when they telephone, visit someone's home, or simply pass one another on the street. Strangers are eyed with suspicion, but are treated warmly once introduced. Close friends, especially girls, stand close to one another and often walk with arms around each other's shoulders or waists. Privacy is difficult to maintain but is highly valued; items are concealed when carried in public, and domestic problems are dealt with in the home.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Roman Catholicism is the religion of over 70 percent of the population. None of the Protestant religions (Methodist, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist, Anglican, Jehovah's Witnesses, Church of God) exceed more than 5 percent. Carib and West African beliefs in spirits and obeah (witchcraft) persist despite church disapproval. Rastafarianism is followed by some.

Religious Practitioners. Native Dominicans are now being trained as clergy, but practitioners of the formal religions, particularly Catholic priests and nuns, have generally been foreigners. Obeah practitioners or seers ( gadè ) are native or are from nearby islands.

Rituals and Holy Places. The religions hold services in their respective churches. Residents of smaller villages often must travel to larger villages to attend church. Some villages have stone Roman Catholic churches dating to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, although new ones continue to be built in other villages. Many Protestant churches, especially Pentecostal and Seventh Day Adventist, have been built in the latter decades of the twentieth century. The frequency and days of worship depend on the religion.

Death and the Afterlife. Many traditional practices and beliefs, such as the Carib custom of burying the dead in a fetal position, have been abandoned in favor of Christian traditions. All Saints Day is observed by visiting cemeteries and lighting candles on the graves of deceased loved ones.

Medicine and Health Care

Common health problems include parasitic, intestinal, nutritional, venereal, and respiratory diseases, and illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Dengue fever (but not malaria), teenage pregnancy, and sanitation are major health concerns. Life expectancy is seventy-five years for men and eighty-one years for women. The healthcare system includes a main hospital in Roseau; smaller hospitals in Portsmouth, Grand Bay, and Marigot; and clinics staffed with trained nurses around the island. Doctors, both Dominicans trained abroad and foreigners from technical aid programs and staff hospitals, periodically visit village clinics. There is an off-shore American medical school, Ross University, in Portsmouth. Traditional medical knowledge includes the use of herbs, plants, and tree barks to cure illnesses, induce labor, and so on. A combination of prescription and natural remedies is often used, despite being discouraged by healthcare professionals.

Secular Celebrations

The state's major holiday is Independence Day, 3 November. It is preceded by festivals, competitions, and events starting in August, including Heritage Day, Creole Day (Jounen Kwéyo`l), and the three-day World Creole Music Festival, which was begun in 1997. Other secular holidays include Carnival, celebrated the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and New Year's Day. Villages celebrate their patron saints' feasts at various times during the year. Most fishing villages celebrate the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in June and July.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The arts are largely self-supporting, although major events receive government, international, and private funding. Village cultural groups receive some government assistance, and organizations such as the Cultural Division, Dominica Festivals Commission, and Movement for Cultural Awareness support the arts locally.

Literature. Largely due to the high illiteracy rate prior to the mid-twentieth century, most literature about Dominica has been written by visitors or foreign-born residents. Since the 1970s, there has been a surge of indigenous poetry, short stories, and plays, though much is unpublished or of limited availability. Local historian and anthropologist Lennox Honychurch has published detailed histories and academic scholarship about Dominica.

Graphic Arts. There is a growing local interest in painting, wood carving, pottery, and sculpture. Baskets and handicrafts are sold to tourists.

Performance Arts. African and European-influenced forms of traditional dance, song, music, and storytelling are performed at various cultural shows. The Karifuna Cultural Group was formed in 1978 to revive and promote ancestral Carib cultural expressions. There is a growing interest in modern creative dance.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Lack of funding, resources, and facilities has constrained the development of the physical and social sciences in Dominica. Studies of the environment and people, particularly the Carib, have been carried out by foreign researchers and some Dominicans attending universities abroad. With limited funding, the government's Cultural Division researches and documents cultural and oral traditions.

Bibliography

Andre, Irving W., and Gabriel J. Christian. In Search of Eden: Dominica, the Travails of a Caribbean Mini-State, 1992.

Baker, Patrick L. Centring the Periphery: Chaos, Order, and the Ethnohistory of Dominica, 1994.

Christie, Pauline. "Language Preference in Two Communities in Dominica, West Indies." La Linguistique, 30:716, 1994.

Commonwealth of Dominica. Population and Housing Census, 1991.

Cultural Division, Government of Dominica. A Directory of Cultural Activities, Artists and Major Cultural Groups and Institutions in Dominica, 1993.

Higbie, Janet. Eugenia: The Caribbean's Iron Lady, 1993.

Honychurch, Lennox. Dominica: Isle of Adventure, 1991.

. The Dominica Story: A History of the Island, 1995.

. "Carib to Creole: Contact and Culture Exchange in Dominica." Ph.D. Diss., University of Oxford, Trinity, 1997.

Krumeich, Anja. The Blessings of Motherhood: Health, Pregnancy and Child Care in Dominica, 1994.

Myers, Robert. A Resource Guide to Dominica, 14931986, 3 vols., 1987.

Pezeron, Simone Maguy. The Carib Indians of Dominica Island in the West Indies: Five Hundred Years after Columbus, 1993.

Stuart, Stephanie. "Dominican PatwaMother Tongue or Cultural Relic?" International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 102:5772, 1993.

Taylor, Douglas. Languages of the West Indies, 1977.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Peasants and Capital: Dominica in the World Economy, 1988.

Amy L. Paugh

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Dominica

Dominica is the most northerly of the Windward Islands in the eastern Caribbean. It has been an independent state within the Commonwealth since 1978. Sighted and named by Columbus in 1493, it was disputed in the 18th cent. between France and Britain, changed hands repeatedly, and was finally held by the British when they beat off a French attack in 1805. The economy relies heavily upon bananas, cocoa, and coconuts, but has been severely affected by hurricanes.

J. A. Cannon

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Dominica

Dominica

DOMINICANS 57

The people of Dominica are called Dominicans. The majority are black, with about 6 percent of the population of mixed descent, and less than 1 percent of European descent. There are a small number (about 3,000) native people (Carib Indians).

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Dominica

Dominicaacre, baker, breaker, Chandrasekhar, faker, forsaker, Jamaica, Laker, maker, nacre, partaker, Quaker, raker, saker, shaker, staker, taker, undertaker, waker •bellyacher • matchmaker • bedmaker •dressmaker •haymaker, playmaker •sailmaker • rainmaker •lacemaker, pacemaker •peacemaker • filmmaker • kingmaker •printmaker • holidaymaker •cabinetmaker • moneymaker •merrymaker • watchmaker •clockmaker • lawmaker • homemaker •bookmaker • troublemaker •boilermaker • heartbreaker •safebreaker • Windbreaker •tie-breaker • strikebreaker •icebreaker • jawbreaker •housebreaker • muckraker •boneshaker • caretaker • piss-taker •stavesacre • wiseacre •beaker, Costa Rica, Dominica, eureka, Frederica, Griqua, leaker, loudspeaker, seeker, shrieker, sika, sneaker, speaker, squeaker, streaker, Tanganyika, theca, tikka, Topeka, wreaker

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Dominica

DOMINICA

Commonwealth of Dominica

Major City:
Roseau

Other City:
Portsmouth

INTRODUCTION

DOMINICA was the first island sighted by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage on Sunday (dies dominica), November 3, 1493. At that time, the island was inhabited by Carib Indians, whose ancestors had originally come from the Orinoco Basin of South America. The Caribs had seized the island from the indigenous Arawaks in the 14th century. The Caribs fought against conquest, and the Spanish lost interest in the island because it apparently had no mineral wealth. Carib resistance also prevented the French and English from settling on the island in the early 1600s. In 1660, England and France agreed to let the native Caribs control the island without interference, but within 30 years Europeans began settling there. France took possession of Dominica in 1727 but forfeited it to Great Britain in 1763. Dominica was governed by Great Britain as part of the Leeward Islands from 1871 until 1939. Between 1940 and 1958, it was administered as part of the Wind-ward Islands. From 1958 until 1962, it belonged to the short-lived Federation of the West Indies. After that federation broke apart, Dominica became an associated state of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1967 and an independent republic on November 3, 1978. Dominica fully supported the 1983 US-led military intervention in nearby Grenada.

MAJOR CITY

Roseau

Roseau, with a population of 21,000, is the capital of Dominica. Located on the southwest coast of the island on the south bank of the Roseau River, Roseau is the country's largest city. The town's name is taken from the French word for "reed" because the river's edge was once covered with reeds. Roseau has suffered from many catastrophes, including floods, fires, and ten hurricanes since 1781 (most recent in 1979, 1980, and 1989). Woodbridge Bay Deep Water Harbour, one mile north of Roseau, handles commercial and large cruise ships with a draft of 30 feet up to 500 feet in length. Agricultural plantations became the foundation of the economy. Coffee was the main crop during the French colonial era, and sugar production was later introduced by the British. The market near the mouth of the Roseau River is the city's center for commerce.

Recreation and Entertainment

Scuba diving and sailing are popular tourist activities. From Roseau, day trip hiking tours are available to explore the rugged natural beauty of Dominica's volcanic peaks, forests, lakes, waterfalls, and numerous rivers. Cricket is the national game of Dominica and is played all over the island.

The Botanical Gardens of Dominica lie just outside Roseau below the Morne Bruce hill. The gardens cover 40 acres and were first planted in 1890 from a converted sugarcane plantation. Since the gardens receive over 85 inches of rain per year, a wide variety of tropical ornamental plants can be grown. In the 1960s and 1970s, the gardens were a popular site for cricket matches. The aviary at the gardens is a breeding center for the endangered Jaco or Rednecked parrot (Amazona arausiaca) as well as Dominica's national bird, the Sisserou parrot (Amazona imperialis). The Morne Trios Pitons National Park to the east covers 17,000 acres. The park is a natural undisturbed rainforest, and it contains Boeri Lake and Freshwater Lake, as well as the volcanic Boiling Lake and Middleham Falls. The Emerald Pool, a cave filled by a waterfall and surrounded by beautiful plants, is also located in the Morne Trois Piton National Park. Trafalgar Falls north of the city is located in a lush gorge covered with ferns and orchids.

The Old Market Square area in downtown Roseau features several prominent early buildings. Dominica has several historic churches, including some in Roseau such as the Romanesque-style Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. The architecture of older wooden buildings, complete with overhanging balconies, gingerbread fretwork, shutters, and jalousies, displays the historic influence of France. Many of the older buildings were restored to their original style after Hurricane David struck Roseau in 1979. In 1993, the Bay Front district opened as a waterfront promenade. The construction of a new seawall allowed land to be reclaimed for the project and now offers the city greater protection from rough seas. Fort Young, with its massive walls, was constructed during the 1700s for protection of the city; it became a hotel in the 1960s.

Roseau's art galleries feature the works of local artists who have received international recognition. There are three main annual arts festivals: Carnival, DOMFESTA, and Independence. Carnival has street parades, and beauty and costume pageants. Music is an important part of Carnival, which features calypso and a marching competition. DOMFESTA is a week-long festival held at the end of July which focuses on contemporary art. Independence celebrates Dominica's heritage with traditional food, costume, dance, and music.

OTHER CITY

PORTSMOUTH is Dominica's second-largest town, located on the northwestern coast. Nearby Prince Rupert's Bay is a natural harbor that was originally home to the Caribs. The sheltered bay was discovered by Columbus on his second voyage and later became a Spanish port for conquistadors going to South America. The town was originally planned as the capital, but the malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the nearby marshes led settlers to relocate to Roseau. Boat trips up the Indian River to see native flora and fauna are popular with visitors. Portsmouth has approximately 3,600 (1995) residents.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Dominica is part of the Windward Islands, and lies between Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south. It lies in the middle of the Lesser Antilles chain of islands. Dominica has an area of 790 square miles and is 29 miles long (north to south) and 16 miles wide (east to west). Its terrain is the most rugged of all the islands in the Lesser Antilles, with many peaks, ridges, and ravines. There are several mountains with peaks that are over 4,000 feet above sea level. The Boiling Lake is the second-largest volcanic bubbling crater lake in world. Boeri Lake is a freshwater crater lake that lies 3,000 feet above sea level. Dominica's climate is fairly tropical. Temperatures average 77°F in the winter and 82°F in the summer. Annual rainfall ranges from 80 inches along the coast to 250 inches in mountainous inland areas. Almost one fourth of the land is planted with crops.

Population

Dominica's population is estimated at 64,000. The population density of 110 per square mile is one of the lowest in the West Indies. Over 90% of the population is descended from African slaves brought to the island in the 17th and 18th centuries. About 6% of the population is of mixed origins. The Carib Territory, some 3,700 acres on the northeast coast of the island set aside in 1903, belongs to the 3,400 descendants of the original inhabitants of the Caribbean islands. Due to the historic influence of the French, about 77% of all Dominicans are Roman Catholic. Smaller groups include Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Baha'is, and Rastafarians. The Caribs' religious beliefs combine features of Christianity and nature worship. English is the official language of Dominica. Most of the population also speaks a French-based dialect called kwéyòl. Dominicans are increasingly using kwéyòl, which is unique but has elements in common with the dialects of St. Lucia and other islands with cultures influenced by France. Language in Dominica exhibits characteristics of Carib dialect and African phrases.

Government

Dominica became an independent republic on November 3, 1978.

Dominica has a Westminster-style parliamentary government, and there are three political parties: The Dominica Labor Party (the majority party), the Dominica United Workers Party, and the Dominica Freedom Party. A president and prime minister make up the executive branch. Nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition party, the president is elected for a 5-year term by the parliament. The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the parliament and also appoints, on the prime minister's recommendation, members of the parliament from the ruling party as cabinet ministers. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed on a no-confidence vote.

The unicameral parliament, called the House of Assembly, is composed of 21 regional representatives and nine senators. The regional representatives are elected by universal suffrage and, in turn, decide whether senators are to be elected or appointed. If appointed, five are chosen by the president with the advice of the prime minister and four with the advice of the opposition leader. If elected, it is by vote of the regional representatives. Elections for representatives and senators must be held at least every 5 years, although the prime minister can call elections any time.

Dominica's legal system is based on English common law. There are three magistrate's courts, with appeals made to the Eastern Caribbean court of appeal and, ultimately, to the Privy Council in London.

Councils elected by universal suffrage govern most towns. Supported largely by property taxation, the councils are responsible for the regulation of markets and sanitation and the maintenance of secondary roads and other municipal amenities. The island also is divided into 10 parishes, whose governance is unrelated to the town governments.

The flag of the Commonwealth of Dominica consists of a green field with a cross composed of yellow, black, and white stripes. In the center is a red disk with 10 yellow-bordered green stars surrounding a parrot.

Arts, Science, Education

Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 15. Transportation to secondary schools is a problem for students in rural areas. Higher education facilities include a teacher training institute, a technical college, a nursing school, and a satellite center of the University of the West Indies. The Alliance Française of Dominica sponsors French-language classes for all ages and maintains a library and cultural center in Roseau.

Commerce and Industry

Agriculture, with bananas as the principal crop, is still Dominica's economic mainstay. Banana production employs, directly or indirectly, upwards of one-third of the work force. This sector is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and to external events affecting commodity prices. The value of banana exports fell to less than 25% of merchandise trade earnings in 1998 compared to about 44% in 1994.

In view of the EU's announced phase-out of preferred access of bananas to its markets, agricultural diversification is a priority. Dominica has made some progress, with the export of small quantities of citrus fruits and vegetables and the introduction of coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, and exotic fruits such as mangoes, guavas, and papayas. Dominica has also had some success in increasing its manufactured exports, with soap as the primary product. Dominica also recently entered the offshore financial services market.

Because Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches, development of tourism has been slow compared with that on neighboring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica's high, rugged mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in the capital. Eco-tourism also is a growing industry on the island.

Dominica is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency to all eight members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries.

Dominica is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). Its 1996 exports to the U.S. were $7.7 million, and its U.S. imports were $34 million. Dominica is also a member of the 14-member Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Transportation

A paved road circles the island. Both Roseau and Portsmouth receive ships. The Cabrits Cruise Ship Port, located in the northwest within the Cabrits National Park, handles only cruise ship traffic. There is a 2,500-foot airstrip north of Roseau.

Communications

In 1987 Dominica became the first country in the world to operate a telecommunications system that was entirely digital. There are five local radio stations and one cable television station. The island also receives broadcasts from neighboring islands. Two newspapers, the New Chronicle and the government's Official Gazette, are published in Roseau.

Health

Dominica's one general hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, is in Roseau. There are also smaller hospital facilities in Portsmouth, Marigot, and Grand Bay, and 12 health centers scattered across the country. Tuberculosis and other respiratory problems are made worse by high humidity and rainy conditions.

Clothing and Services

Dominicans dress modestly. Tourists are advised that scanty clothes and swimwear are only to be worn on the beaches. Casual light cottons are worn during the day, with a light sweater for cooler evenings. Raingear and hiking shoes are recommended for the mountains and rainforests.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

U.S. citizens may enter Dominica without a passport for tourist stays of up to three months, but they must carry an original document proving U.S. citizenship, such as a U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship or certified U.S. birth certificate; photo identification; and a return or onward ticket. For further information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 3216 New Mexico Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016, telephone: (202) 364-6781, email:[email protected], or the Consulate General of Dominica in New York at (212) 768-2480.

Dominica's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items such as business equipment, food and beverages, paints and varnishes, and chemicals. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Dominica in Washington or the Consulate in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Americans living in or visiting Dominica are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados and obtain updated information on travel and security within Dominica. Consular Section hours are 9:00am-12 noon and 2:00pm-4:00pm, Monday-Friday except local and U.S. holidays. The U.S. Embassy is located in the American Life Insurance (ALICO) building, Cheapside, Bridgetown, Barbados, telephone 1-246-431-0225, fax 1-246-431-0179, e-mail:[email protected]or Internet: http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/bb1/wwwhcons.html

Disaster Preparedness

Dominica is a hurricane-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

January 1 New Year's Day

*Carnival

*Good Friday

*Easter Monday

May 1 Labor Day

*Whitmonday

July 2 Caricom Day

August (first Monday) *Bank Holiday

November 3-4 National Holidays

December 25 Christmas

December 26 Boxing Day

*Variable

RECOMMENDED READING

Philpott, Don. Caribbean Sunseekers: Dominica. Lincolnwood, Ill.: Passport Books, 1996.

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Dominica

Dominica

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-DOMINICAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the December 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Commonwealth of Dominica

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 754 sq. km. (290 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Roseau (population 14,500).

Terrain: Mountainous volcanic island with rainforest cover.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Dominican (Domi-NEE-can).

Population: (2005) 72,000.

Annual growth rate: (2005) 0.8%.

Ethnic groups: Mainly of African descent, mixed Black and European, Syrian and some Carib Amerindians.

Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant (Methodist, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Baptist), Islam, Baha'I, Rastafarianism, Anglican, Jehovah's Witnesses, Nazarene, Church of Christ, and Brethren Christian Churches.

Languages: English (official); a French patois is widely spoken.

Education: (2005) Adult literacy—94%.

Health: (2006) Infant mortality rate—13/1,000. Life expectancy—men 72 years; women 77.9 years.

Work force: (2005) 24,370.

Unemployment: (2005) 13.1%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy; republic within the Commonwealth.

Independence: November 3, 1978.

Constitution: November 1978.

Government branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Assembly. Judicial—magistrate and jury courts, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court and Court of Appeals), Privy Council.

Political subdivisions: 10 parishes.

Political parties: Dominica Labour Party (incumbent), United Workers Party, and Dominica Freedom Party.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $283.6 million.

GDP growth rate: (2006) 4.0%.

Per capita GDP: (2005) $3,790.

Inflation: (2005) 4.6%.

Natural resources: timber, water (hydropower), copper.

Agriculture: (10% of GDP in 2005) Products—bananas, citrus, coconuts, cocoa, herbal oils and extracts.

Manufacturing: (3% of GDP in 2005) Types—agricultural processing, soap and other coconut-based products, apparel.

Trade: (2005) Exports—$41.0 million (merchandise) and $82.0 million (commercial services). Major markets—European Union (27.8%), Jamaica (12.7%), Antigua and Barbuda (11.3%), Trinidad and Tobago (9.0%), and Saint Lucia (6.8%). Imports—$165 million (merchandise) and $49 million (commercial services). Major suppliers—United States (36.6%), Trinidad and Tobago (20.5%), China (19.4%), European Union (13.4%), and Japan (4.6%).

PEOPLE

Almost all Dominicans are descendants of African slaves brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. Dominica is the only island in the eastern Caribbean to retain some of its pre-Columbian population—the Carib Indians—about 3,000 of whom live on the island's east coast. The population growth rate is very low, due primarily to emigration to more prosperous Caribbean Islands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. English is the official language; however, because of historic French domination, the most widely spoken dialect is a French patois. Nearly 80% of the population is Catholic. In recent years, a number of Protestant churches have been established.

HISTORY

The island's indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Caribs in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493. Spanish ships frequently landed on Dominica during the 16th century, but fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged Spain's efforts at settlement.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained; rival expeditions of British and French foresters were harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.

Largely due to Dominica's position between Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a French settlement was established and grew. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years' War, the island became a British possession. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the French mounted a successful invasion with the active cooperation of the population. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, returned the island to Britain. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.

In 1763, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only the white population. In 1831, reflecting a liberalization of official British racial attitudes, the Brown Privilege Bill conferred political and social rights on free nonwhites. Three Blacks were elected to the legislative assembly the following year. Following the abolition of slavery, in 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature in the 19th century. Most Black legislators were smallholders or merchants who held economic and social views diametrically opposed to the interests of the small, wealthy English planter class. Reacting to a perceived threat, the planters lobbied for more direct British rule.

In 1865, after much agitation and tension, the colonial office replaced the elective assembly with one comprised of one-half elected members and one-half appointed. Planters allied with colonial administrators outmaneuvered the elected legislators on numerous occasions.

In 1871, Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation. The power of the Black population progressively eroded. Crown Colony government was re-established in 1896. All political rights for the vast majority of the population were effectively curtailed. Development aid, offered as compensation for disenfranchisement, proved to have a negligible effect.

Following World War I, an upsurge of political consciousness throughout the Caribbean led to the formation of the Representative Government Association. Marshaling public frustration with the lack of a voice in the governing of Dominica, this group won one-third of the popularly elected seats of the legislative assembly in 1924 and one-half in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Dominica was transferred from the Leeward Island Administration and was governed as part of the Windwards until 1958, when it joined the short-lived West Indies Federation.

After the federation dissolved, Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom in 1967 and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. On November 3, 1978, the Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom.

Independence did little to solve problems stemming from centuries of economic underdevelopment, and in mid-1979, political discontent led to the formation of an interim government. It was replaced after the 1980 elections by a government led by the Dominica Freedom Party under Prime Minister Eugenia Charles, the Caribbean's first female prime minister. Chronic economic problems were compounded by the severe impact of hurricanes in 1979 and in 1980. By the end of the 1980s, the economy recovered, but weakened again in the 1990s due to a decrease in banana prices.

In the January 2000 elections, the Edison James United Workers Party (UWP) was defeated by the Dominican Labour Party (DLP), led by Roosevelt P. “Rosie” Douglas. Douglas died after only a few months in office and was replaced by Pierre Charles, who died in office in January 2004. Roosevelt Skerrit, also of the DLP, replaced Charles as Prime Minister. Under Prime Minister Skerrit's leadership, the DLP won elections in May 2005 that gave the party 12 seats in the 21-member Parliament to the UWP's 8 seats. An independent candidate affiliated with the DLP won a seat as well. Since that time, the independent candidate joined the government and one UWP member crossed the aisle, making the current total 14 seats for the DLP and 7 for the UWP.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Dominica has a Westminster-style parliamentary government, and there are three political parties—the Dominica Labour Party (the majority party), the Dominica United Workers Party, and the Dominica Freedom Party. A president and prime minister make up the executive branch. Nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition party, the president is elected for a 5-year term by the parliament. The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the parliament and also appoints, on the prime minister's recommendation, members of the parliament from the ruling party as cabinet ministers. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed on a no-confidence vote.

The unicameral parliament, called the House of Assembly, is composed of 21 regional representatives and nine senators. The regional representa-tives are elected by universal suffrage and, in turn, decide whether senators are to be elected or appointed. If appointed, five are chosen by the president with the advice of the prime minister and four with the advice of the opposition leader. If elected, it is by vote of the regional representatives. Elections for representatives and senators must be held at least every 5 years, although the prime minister can call elections any time. The last election was held in May 2005.

Dominica's legal system is based on English common law. There are three magistrate's courts, with appeals made to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and, ultimately, to the Privy Council in London.

Councils elected by universal suffrage govern most towns. Supported largely by property taxation, the councils are responsible for the regulation of markets and sanitation and the maintenance of secondary roads and other municipal amenities. The island is also divided into 10 parishes, whose governance is unrelated to the town governments.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Nicholas J. O. LIVERPOOL

Prime Min.: Roosevelt SKERRIT

Min. of Agriculture, Fisheries, & Forestry: Matthew WALTER

Min. for Carib Affairs: Kelly GRANEAU

Min. of Community Development, Culture, Gender Affairs, & Information: Lorraine BANNIS-ROBERTS

Min. of Economic Development & Urban Renewal: Julius TIMOTHY

Min. of Education, Human Resource Development, Sports, & Youth Affairs: Vince HENDERSON

Min. of Finance, Social Security, & Foreign Affairs: Roosevelt SKERRIT

Min. of Health & Environment: John FABIEN

Min. of Housing, Lands, & Telecommunications: Reginald AUSTRIE

Min. of National Security, Labor, & Immigration: Rayburn BLACKMORE

Min. of Public Utilities, Energy, Ports, & the Public Service: Charles SAVARIN

Min. of Public Works & Infrastructural Development: Ambrose GEORGE

Min. of Tourism, Legal Affairs, & Civil Aviation: Ian DOUGLAS

Min. of Trade, Industry, Consumer Affairs, Private-Sector Relations, CARICOM, OECS, & Diaspora Affairs: Colin MCINTYRE

Attorney Gen.: Francine BARON-ROYER

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Crispin GREGOIRE

Although the Dominican ambassador to the United States has customarily been resident in Dominica, the country maintains an embassy in the United States at 3216 New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20016 (tel. 202-364-6781). Dominica also has a consulate general co-located with its UN mission in New York at Suite 900, 820 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel: 212-599-8478).

ECONOMY

Dominica's economy grew by 3.5% in 2005 and 4.0% in 2006, following a decade of poor performance. The country nearly had a financial crisis in 2003 and 2004. Growth in 2006 was attributed to gains in tourism, construction, offshore and other services, and some sub-sectors of the banana industry. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently praised the Government of Dominica for its successful macroeconomic reforms. The IMF also pointed out remaining challenges, including further reductions in public debt, increased financial sector regulation, and market diversification.

Bananas and other agriculture dominate Dominica's economy, and nearly one-third of the labor force works in agriculture. This sector, however, is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and to external events affecting commodity prices. In response to decreasing European Union (EU) banana trade preferences, the government has diversified the agricultural sector by introducing coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, and exotic fruits such as mangoes, guavas, and papayas. Dominica has had some success in increasing its manufactured exports, primarily soap.

Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, tourism has developed more slowly than on neighboring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica's high, rugged mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive eco-tourism destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in the capital.

Dominica's currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), a regional currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the EC$, manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries. The ECCB has kept the EC$ pegged at EC$2.7=U.S. $1.

Dominica is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative that grants duty-free entry into the United States for many goods. Dominica also belongs to the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Like its Eastern Caribbean neighbors, the main priority of Dominica's foreign relations is economic development. The country maintains missions in Washington, New York, London, and Brussels and is represented jointly with other Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) members in Canada. Dominica also is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the British Commonwealth. It became a member of the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1978 and of the World Bank and Organization of American States (OAS) in 1979.

U.S.-DOMINICAN RELATIONS

The United States and Dominica have friendly bilateral relations. The United States supports the Dominican Government's efforts to expand its economic base and to provide a higher standard of living for its citizens. U.S. assistance is primarily channeled through multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), as well as through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Peace Corps also provides technical assistance to Dominica, and has volunteers on the island working primarily in education, youth development, and health.

In addition, the United States and Dominica work together in the battle against illegal drugs. Dominica cooperates with U.S. agencies and participates in counternarcotics programs in an effort to curb narco-trafficking and marijuana cultivation. In 1995, the Dominican Government signed a maritime law enforcement agreement with the United States to strengthen counternarcotics coordination, and in 1996, the government signed mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties to enhance joint efforts in combating international crime.

Dominica had around 252,000 visitors in 2005, which represented a contraction in both cruise line and stay-over arrivals over the record performance set in 2004. It is estimated that 4,500 Americans reside in the country.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

BRIDGETOWN (E) Wildey Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael BB 14006, APO/FPO APO AA 34055, 246-436-4950, Fax 246-429-5246, Workweek: Mon-Fri: 8.00–4.30, Website: http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Hillaire Campbell
AMB OMS:Honora L. Myers
ECO:Anthony Eterno
FM:Frank Mashuda
HRO:Peggy Laurance (Residence In Ft Lauderdale)
MGT:Philip A. Dubois
AMB:Mary M. Ourisman
CG:Clyde I. Howard
DCM:O.P. Garza (Tdy)
PAO:John C. Roberts
GSO:Paul A. Kalinowski
RSO:Robert W. Starnes
AFSA:Arend Zwartjes
AID:James Goggin
CLO:Kimberly Ent/Shannon Baguio

DAO:
Ltc. Edgar Hernandez (Res. Caracas)
DEA:Charles Graham
EEO:Ricardo Cabrera
FAA:Dawn Flanagan (Res. Washington)
FMO:Karin Sullivan
ICASS:Chair Cdr. P. Kofi Aboagye
IMO:Ricardo Cabrera
IRS:Cheryl Kast
ISO:Norman G B Ellasos
ISSO:Ricardo Cabrera
LAB:John C. Aller
LEGATT:Samuel Bryant, Jr..
MLO LCDR:Cdr.P. Kofi Aboagye
NAS:John C. Roberts
POL:Ian Campbell
State ICASS:Cdr. P. Kofi Aboagye

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade
Administration
Trade Information Center

14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

Caribbean/Latin America Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

April 2, 2007

Country Description: Dominica is an English-speaking developing Caribbean island nation. The tourism industry in is the early stages of development; first-class tourist facilities are limited, but medium-range facilities are widely available.

Entry Requirements: For information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 3216 New Mexico Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016, telephone (202) 364-6781, e-mail [email protected], or the Consulate General of Dominica in New York at (212) 768-2480. The Dominica Division of Tourism official website is http://www.dominica.dm/site/index.cfm. Sea travelers must have a valid U.S. passport (or other original proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified U.S. birth certificate with a government-issued photo ID).

U.S. citizens may also be asked to present a return or onward ticket. U.S. citizens should take special care to secure their passports while traveling as it can be time-consuming and difficult to acquire new proof of citizenship to facilitate return travel should the passport be lost or stolen. There is a departure tax assessed when leaving Dominica. Children under twelve years of age are exempt from the departure tax.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site where the current World-wide Caution Travel Alert, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Petty street crime occurs in Dominica. Valuables left unattended, especially on beaches, are vulnerable to theft.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is limited. There are two hospitals in Dominica, only one of which performs general surgery, and several clinics. There is no operational hyperbaric chamber; divers requiring treatment for decompression illness must be evacuated to Martinique. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Dominica is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Vehicles are driven on the left in Dominica. Seatbelt laws are not strictly enforced. Roads are narrow with steep inclines throughout the island. There are few guardrails in areas that have precipitous drop-offs from the road. Road signs are limited outside of the major towns. Drivers should be alert for minibus (taxi) drivers, who often make sudden stops or pull out into traffic without warning or signaling.

For specific information concerning Dominica driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Dominica national tourist organization offices in New York via telephone number (212) 949-1711, fax number (212) 949-1714, or e-mail [email protected]

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Dominica's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Dominica's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: There is no U.S Embassy or Consulate in Dominica. The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados is responsible for American Citizens Services on the island of Dominica. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available. Like all Caribbean countries, Dominica can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Dominica's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Dominica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Dominica are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Dominica Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown is located in the Wildey Business Park in suburban Wildey, south and east of downtown Bridge-town. The main number for the Consular Section is (246) 431-0225; after hours, the Embassy duty officer can be reached by calling (246) 436-4950. The website for Embassy Bridgetown is http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, except Barbados and U.S. holidays.

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Dominica

DOMINICA

Compiled from the August 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Commonwealth of Dominica


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

754 sq. km. (290 sq. mi.).

Cities:

Capital—Roseau (population 14,500).

Terrain:

Mountainous volcanic island with rainforest cover.

Climate:

Tropical.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Dominican (Dom-i-nee-can).

Population

(2003 est.) 70,352.

Annual growth rate (2003 est.):

0%, slightly decreasing.

Ethnic groups:

Mainly African descent, some Carib Indians.

Religion:

Roman Catholic (80%), Anglican, other Protestant denominations.

Language:

English (official); a French patois is widely spoken.

Education:

Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy—94%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate (2003)—18.9/1,000. Life expectancy (2004)—male 74, female 78.

Work force (2004 est.):

47,000 Agriculture—37%; services—30%; commerce—20%. Unemployment—exceeds 26% (Eastern Caribbean Central Bank estimate).

Government

Type:

Parliamentary democracy; republic within commonwealth.

Independence:

November 3, 1978.

Constitution:

November 1978.

Branches:

Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Assembly. Judicial—magistrate and jury courts, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court and Court of Appeals), Privy Council.

Subdivisions:

10 parishes.

Political parties:

Dominica Labor Party, Dominica Freedom Party (ruling coalition partners), and United Workers Party (opposition).

Suffrage:

Universal adult.

Economy

GDP (2004):

$282.2 million. GDP growth rate (2004): 3.5%.

Per capita GDP (2004):

$4010.

Natural resources:

timber, water (hydropower), copper.

Agriculture (18% of GDP):

Products—bananas, citrus, coconuts, cocoa, herbal oils and extracts.

Manufacturing (7% of GDP):

Types—agricultural processing, soap and other coconut-based products, apparel.

Trade:

Exports—$41.2 million (2004): bananas, citrus fruits, soap, and cocoa. Major markets—CARICOM 61%, U.K. 18%, U.S. 3%. Imports—$145 million (2004): machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured articles, cement. Major suppliers—U.S. 35%, CARICOM 29%, E.U. 13%, Japan 5%.


PEOPLE

Almost all Dominicans are descendants of African slaves brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. Dominica is the only island in the eastern Caribbean to retain some of its pre-Columbian population—the Carib Indians—about 3,000 of whom live on the island's east coast. The population growth rate is very low, due primarily to emigration to more prosperous Caribbean Islands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

English is the official language; however, because of historic French domination, the most widely spoken dialect is a French patois. About 80% of the population is Catholic. In recent years, a number of Protestant churches have been established.


HISTORY

The island's indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Caribs in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493. Spanish ships frequently landed on

Dominica during the 16th century, but fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged Spain's efforts at settlement.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained; rival expeditions of British and French foresters were harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.

Largely due to Dominica's position between Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a French settlement was established and grew. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years' War, the island became a British possession. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the French mounted a successful invasion with the active cooperation of the population, which was largely French. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, returned the island to Britain. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.

In 1763, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only the white population. In 1831, reflecting a liberalization of official British racial attitudes, the Brown Privilege Bill conferred political and social rights on free nonwhites. Three Blacks were elected to the legislative assembly the following year. Following the abolition of slavery, in 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature in the 19th century. Most Black legislators were smallholders or merchants who held economic and social views diametrically opposed to the interests of the small, wealthy English planter class. Reacting to a perceived threat, the planters lobbied for more direct British rule.

In 1865, after much agitation and tension, the colonial office replaced the elective assembly with one comprised of one-half elected members and one-half appointed. Planters allied with colonial administrators outmaneuvered the elected legislators on numerous occasions. In 1871, Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation. The power of the Black population progressively eroded. Crown Colony government was re-established in 1896. All political rights for the vast majority of the population were effectively curtailed. Development aid, offered as compensation for disenfranchisement, proved to have a negligible effect.

Following World War I, an upsurge of political consciousness throughout the Caribbean led to the formation of the Representative Government Association. Marshaling public frustration with the lack of a voice in the governing of Dominica, this group won one-third of the popularly elected seats of the legislative assembly in 1924 and one-half in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Dominica was transferred from the Leeward Island Administration and was governed as part of the Windwards until 1958, when it joined the short-lived West Indies Federation.

After the federation dissolved, Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom in 1967 and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. On November 3, 1978, the Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom.

Independence did little to solve problems stemming from centuries of economic underdevelopment, and in mid-1979, political discontent led to the formation of an interim government. It was replaced after the 1980 elections by a government led by the Dominica Freedom Party under Prime Minister Eugenia Charles, the Caribbean's first female prime minister. Chronic economic problems were compounded by the severe impact of hurricanes in 1979 and in 1980. By the end of the 1980s, the economy had made a healthy recovery, which weakened in the 1990s due to a decrease in banana prices.

In January 2000 elections, the Edison James United Workers Party (UWP) was defeated by the Dominican Labor Party (DLP), led by Roosevelt P. "Rosie" Douglas. Douglas died after only a few months in office and was replaced by Pierre Charles, who died in office in January 2004. Roosevelt Skerrit, also of the DLP, replaced Charles as Prime Minister. Under Prime Minister Skerrit's leadership, the DLP won elections in May 2005 that gave the party 12 seats in the 21-member Parliament to the UWP's 8 seats. An independent candidate affiliated with the DLP won a seat as well.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Dominica has a Westminster-style parliamentary government, and there are three political parties—the Dominica Labor Party (the majority party), the Dominica United Workers Party, and the Dominica Freedom Party. A president and prime minister make up the executive branch. Nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition party, the president is elected for a 5-year term by the parliament. The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the parliament and also appoints, on the prime minister's recommendation, members of the parliament from the ruling party as cabinet ministers. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed on a no-confidence vote.

The unicameral parliament, called the House of Assembly, is composed of 21 regional representatives and nine senators. The regional representatives are elected by universal suffrage and, in turn, decide whether senators are to be elected or appointed. If appointed, five are chosen by the president with the advice of the prime minister and four with the advice of the opposition leader. If elected, it is by vote of the regional representatives. Elections for representatives and senators must be held at least every 5 years, although the prime minister can call elections any time. The last election was held in January 2000.

Dominica's legal system is based on English common law. There are three magistrate's courts, with appeals made to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and, ultimately, to the Privy Council in London.

Councils elected by universal suffrage govern most towns. Supported largely by property taxation, the councils are responsible for the regulation of markets and sanitation and the maintenance of secondary roads and other municipal amenities. The island is also divided into 10 parishes, whose governance is unrelated to the town governments.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 5/25/2005

President: Nicholas J. O. LIVERPOOL
Prime Minister: Roosevelt SKERRIT
Min. of Agriculture & the Environment: Colin MCINTYRE
Min. for Caribbean Affairs: Kelly GRANEAU
Min. of Community Development, Gender Affairs, & Information: Mathew WALTERS
Min. of Education, Human Resources Development, Sports, & Youth Affairs: Vince HENDERSON
Min. of Finance, Planning, National Security, and Overseas Nationals: Roosevelt SKERRIT
Min. of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Labor, & Public Service: Charles SAVARIN
Min. of Health & Social Security: John FABIEN
Min. of Housing, Lands, Telecommunications, Energy, and Ports: Reginald AUSTRIE
Min. of Legal Affairs, Labor, & Immigration: Ian DOUGLAS
Min. of Tourism, Industry, & Private Sector Relations: Loreen BANNIS-ROBERTS
Attorney General: Ian DOUGLAS
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Crispin GREGOIRE

Although the Dominican ambassador to the United States has customarily been resident in Dominica, the country maintains an embassy in the U.S. at 3216 New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016 (tel. 202-364-6781).

Dominica also has a consulate general co-located with its UN mission in New York at Suite 900, 820 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel: 212-599-8478).


ECONOMY

Dominica's economy grew by 3.5% in 2004 after a decade of poor performance. The country nearly had a financial crisis in 2003 and 2004, but it has managed to stabilize its debt and fiscal deficits using some difficult reform measures, earning the praise of international financial institutions (IFIs).

Bananas and other agriculture dominate Dominica's economy, and nearly one-third of the labor force works in agriculture. This sector, however, is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and to external events affecting commodity prices. In response to decreasing European Union (EU) banana trade preferences, the government has diversified the agricultural sector, with the export of small quantities of citrus fruits and vegetables and the introduction of coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, and exotic fruits such as mangoes, guavas, and papayas. Dominica also has had some success in increasing its manufactured exports, primarily soap. Dominica also recently entered the offshore financial services market.

Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, tourism has developed more slowly than on neighboring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica's high, rugged mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive eco-tourism destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in the capital.

Dominica's currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), a regional currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the EC$, manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries. The ECCB's primary monetary policy goal is to maintain the long-standing currency peg of US$1 = EC$2.7.

Dominica is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative that grants duty-free entry into the U.S. for many goods. In 2004, exports totaled $41 million, with 3% going to the U.S. Dominica's imports totaled $145 million, 35% from the U.S. Dominica also belongs to the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Like its Eastern Caribbean neighbors, the main priority of Dominica's foreign relations is economic development. The country maintains missions in Washington, New York, London, and Brussels and is represented jointly with other Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) members in Canada. Dominica also is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the British Commonwealth. It became a member of the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1978 and of the World Bank and Organization of American States (OAS) in 1979.

As a member of CARICOM, in July 1994 Dominica strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, designed to facilitate the departure of Haiti's de facto authorities from power. The country agreed to contribute personnel to the multinational force, which restored the democratically elected Government of Haiti in October 1994.


U.S.-DOMINICAN RELATIONS

The United States and Dominica have friendly bilateral relations. The United States supports the Dominican Government's efforts to expand its economic base and to provide a higher standard of living for its citizens. U.S. assistance is primarily channeled through multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) satellite programs office in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Peace Corps also provides technical assistance, and has just over 30 volunteers in Dominica, working primarily in education, youth development, and health.

In addition, the United States and Dominica work together in the battle against illegal drugs. Dominica cooperates with U.S. agencies and participates in counternarcotics programs in an effort to curb narco-trafficking and marijuana cultivation. In 1995, the Dominican Government signed a maritime law enforcement agreement with the U.S. to strengthen counternarcotics coordination, and in 1996, the government signed mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties to enhance joint efforts in combating international crime.

Dominica had around 450,000 visitors in 2004, over 350,000 of whom were cruise ship passengers. It is estimated that 4,500 Americans reside in the country.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

The United States maintains no official presence in Dominica. The Ambassador and Embassy officers are resident in Barbados and frequently travel to Dominica.

BRIDGETOWN (E) Address: CIBC Building, Broad Street, Bridgetown; APO/FPO: APO AA 34055; Phone: 246-436-4950; Fax: 246-429-5246; Workweek: Mon-Fri: 8.00 - 4.30

AMB:Mary E. Kramer
AMB OMS:Nancy Doe
DCM:Mary Ellen T. Gilroy
DCM OMS:Joann M. Liner-Collins
CG:Clyde I. Howard
POL:Sheila J. Peters
COM:David Katz (res. Santo Domingo)
MGT:Leo F. Voytko
AFSA:Vincent Wing
AID:Rebecca J. Rohrer
CLO:Georgetta M. Carroll
DAO:Bill Delehunt; Cdr Matt Crawley (both res. Caracas)
DEA:Hollis A. Williams
ECO:John M. Ashworth
EEO:Marilyn R. Gayton
FAA:Dawn Flanagan (res. Washington)
FMO:Vincent Wing
GSO:Paul A. Kalinowski
ICASS Chair:Peter Kilfoyle
IMO:Ricardo Cabrera
IRS:Cheryl Kast
LAB:Alfred Anzaldua
LEGATT:Susan R. Chainer
MLO:Peter Kilfoyle
NAS:Patricia Aguilera
PAO:Julie A. O'Reagan
RSO:Robert W. Starnes
Last Updated: 10/22/2005

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

Caribbean/Latin America Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 8, 2004

Country Description:

Dominica is an English-speaking developing Caribbean island nation. The tourism industry in is the early stages of development; first-class tourist facilities are limited, but medium-range facilities are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

U.S. citizens must present a valid or expired passport, a certified U.S. birth certificate and photo identification, Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization, and a return or onward ticket. U.S. citizens should take special care to secure these documents while traveling as it can be time-consuming and difficult to acquire new proof of citizenship to facilitate return travel should the original documents be lost or stolen. There is a departure tax assessed when leaving Dominica. Children under twelve years of age are exempt from the departure tax. For further information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 3216 New Mexico Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016, telephone (202) 364-6781, e-mail [email protected], or the Consulate General of Dominica in New York at (212) 768-2480. The Dominica Division of Tourism official website is www.ndcdominica.dm.

Safety and Security:

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Petty street crime occurs in Dominica. Valuables left unattended, especially on beaches, are vulnerable to theft.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical care is limited. There are four hospitals in Dominica, only one of which performs general surgery, and several clinics. There is no hyperbaric chamber; divers requiring treatment for decompression illness must be evacuated to Guadeloupe. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Dominica is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Vehicles are driven on the left in Dominica. Seatbelt laws are not strictly enforced. Roads are narrow with steep inclines throughout the island. There are few guardrails in areas that have precipitous drop-offs from the road. Road signs are limited outside of the major towns. Drivers should be alert for minibus (taxi) drivers, who often make sudden stops or pull out into traffic without warning or signaling.

For specific information concerning Dominica driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Dominica national tourist organization offices in New York via telephone number (212) 949-1711, fax number (212) 949-1714, or e-mail [email protected]

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Dominica as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Dominica's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasaindex.cfm.

Special Circumstances:

There is no U.S Embassy or Consulate in Dominica. The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados is responsible for American Citizens Services on the island of Dominica. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.

Like all Caribbean countries, Dominica can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Dominica's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Dominica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Dominica are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Dominica Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in the First Caribbean International Bank Building on Broad Street, telephone 1-246-436-4950, website http:/bridgetown.usembassy.gov/. The Consular Section is located in the American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) Building, Cheapside, telephone 1-246-431-0225 or fax 1-246-431-0179, website http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov. Hours of operation are 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:00-2:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, except Barbados and U.S. holidays.

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Dominica

Dominica

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Dominicans

35 Bibliography

Commonwealth of Dominica

Dominica

CAPITAL: Roseau

FLAG: On a green background appears a cross composed of yellow, black, and white stripes; in the center is a red disk with 10 yellow-bordered green stars surrounding a parrot.

ANTHEM: Isle of Beauty, Isle of Splendor.

MONETARY UNIT: The East Caribbean dollar (ec$) of 100 cents is the national currency. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 25 cents, and 1 East Caribbean dollar, and notes of 5, 10, 20, and 100 East Caribbean dollars. ec$1 = us0.37037 (or us$1 = ec$2.7; as of 2004).

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is being introduced, but imperial measures remain in common use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; CARICOM Day, 2 July; Bank Holiday, 1st Monday in August; National Days, 3–4 November; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Carnival, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Whitmonday.

TIME: 8 am = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Although usually classified as one of the Windward Islands, Dominica marks the midpoint of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. The island has an area of 754 square kilometers (291 square miles), slightly more than four times the size of Washington, D.C. Its coastline is 148 kilometers (92 miles) long. Dominica’s capital city, Roseau, is located on the southwest coast of the island.

2 Topography

The most rugged island of the Lesser Antilles, Dominica is a mass of peaks, ridges, and ravines. Several mountains are over 1,200 meters (4,000 feet). The highest is Morne Diablatins, with an altitude of 1,447 meters (4,747 feet). The whole landmass is of recent volcanic formation, and the mountain peaks are cones of volcanoes with lava craters and small lakes of boiling water.

The coastal rim of the island is a thin strip limited by the mountainsides, which extend directly down to the shore. The lowest point is at sea level (Caribbean Sea).

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 754 sq km (291 sq mi)

Size ranking: 173 of 194

Highest elevation: 1,447 meters (4,747 feet) at Morne Diablatins

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Caribbean Sea

Land Use*

Arable land: 7%

Permanent crops: 21 %

Other: 72%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 200–635 centimeters (80–250 inches)

Average temperature in January: 25°c (77°f)

Average temperature in July: 28°c (82°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

3 Climate

The temperature averages 25°c (77°f) in winter and 28°c (82°f) in summer. Average yearly rainfall ranges from about 200 centimeters (80 inches) on the drier Caribbean coast to 635 centimeters (250 inches) in mountainous inland areas. Destructive Atlantic hurricanes occur during the late summer months.

4 Plants and Animals

Since few plantations could be established on Dominica’s rugged terrain, the island is still covered with forests, some of which have never been cut except by the destructive winds of a hurricane. On one plot in the rain forest, as many as sixty species of trees may be identified. Some of the most common are chataignier, gommier, carapite, breadfruit, white cedar, and laurier.

There are no large wild animals, but the agouti (a rodent that averages 50 centimeters/20 inches in length) and manicou (animal similar to an opossum) can be found. Some 135 species of birds inhabit Dominica. The coastal waters abound in fish.

5 Environment

Water shortages are among the most significant environmental problems. Other areas of concern are pollution from chemicals used in farming and untreated sewage. The nation’s forests are endangered by the expansion of farming activities. Pollution of the nation’s coastal waters threatens the tourist trade in the area.

Two extensive areas have been set aside as nature reserves. The southern reserve, which constitutes Morne Trois Pitons National Park, covers an area of 6,500 hectares (16,100 acres). The park is home to the nesting places of the red-necked and imperial parrots, both endangered species of Dominica. The tundra peregrine falcon, and the green sea and hawksbill turtles are also classified as endangered. Hurricanes are the most destructive natural threat to the environment.

6 Population

In 2005, the estimated population was 70,000. The capital, Roseau, had an estimated urban area population of 24,000 that same year. The population density of Dominica in 2006 was 95 persons per square kilometer (246 persons per square mile).

7 Migration

There are no restrictions on emigration. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate was -11.6 migrants per 1,000 population. The number of migrants living in Dominica in 2000 was 4,000, close to 5% of the total population.

8 Ethnic Groups

The vast majority of Dominicans are descendants of black African slaves brought to the island in the 17th and 18th centuries. About 6% of the population was of mixed descent and a small minority of about 0.5% was of European origin. Dominica is the only island of the Caribbean on which descendants of the Carib Indian population still make up a community of significant size. Isolation and the establishment of large land reserves have enabled the Caribs, who number about 3,000 people, to preserve their identity.

9 Languages

English is the official language of Dominica. Nearly all Dominicans also speak a French patois, based on a mixture of African and French grammar and consisting mostly of French words, with some English and Spanish borrowings. Some islanders speak French as their first language.

10 Religions

The dominant religion is Christianity, but religious freedom for all faiths is guaranteed by the

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Roosevelt Skerrit

Position: Prime minister of a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth of Nations

Took Office: 8 January 2004, reelected May 2005

Birthdate: 8 June 1972

Education: University of Mississippi, bachelor’s degree in psychology and English, 1997. Also attended New Mexico State University in 1994.

Of interest: When Skerrit took office, he was one of the youngest heads of government in the world. He was once a high school teacher and lecturer at Dominica Community College.

constitution. About 61% of the population is Roman Catholic. Various Protestant denominations constitute 18% of the populace. About 6% are Seventh-day Adventists and 3.7% are Methodists. Other minority groups include Anglicans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Baha’is, Rastafarians, Baptists, Nazarenes, and Brethren Christians.

11 Transportation

A paved road connects the two main towns, Roseau and Portsmouth, with Melville Hall Airport. Much of the road system was severely damaged by a 1979 hurricane. Reconstruction averages about 16 kilometers (10 miles) a year.

There were about 780 kilometers (485 miles) of roadways in 2002, of which 390 kilometers (242 miles) were paved. There are 2,770 passenger cars and 2,830 commercial motor vehicles on the island. A deepwater harbor has been completed near Roseau. Dominica Air Transport and other small airlines connect the island with Martinique, Guadeloupe, Antigua, and Barbados.

12 History

Dominica was the first island sighted in the New World by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493. At that time, the island was inhabited by Caribs, who resisted conquest by all European explorers.

Strong Indian resistance to further contact prevented either the French or the English from settling there until the 18th century. The French took formal possession in 1727, but gave the island to Great Britain in 1763. Coffee plantations were established during the period of French colonization, and sugar was introduced later by the British. However, the large slave plantations that characterized other West Indian islands never developed on Dominica.

Dominica was governed as part of the Leeward Islands from 1871 until 1939. In 1940 it was transferred to the Windward Islands administration. From 1958 to 1962, the island was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. Dominica became an associated state of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1967 and on 3 November 1978 became an independent republic.

In its first years of independence, Dominica had several problems. Some were brought about by destructive hurricanes, especially Hurricane David in 1979. Others were attributable to the corrupt and tyrannical administration of Premier Patrick John. John was ousted in June 1979, and after a year of interim rule, Mary Eugenia Charles became prime minister in July 1980. She was the first female prime minister in the Caribbean.

Charles’s party lost its majority in 1995, and Edison James became the new prime minister. Charges of corruption threatened James’s credit-ability, and he lost to Rosie Douglas in the January 2000 election. In October 2000 Douglas died suddenly. The leader of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), Pierre Charles, was sworn in as his successor. In 2002 Charles told the Caribbean Development Bank that Dominica was facing an economic and financial crisis. Exports and tourism had decreased, and the effects of globalization were named as a reason for the poor economic conditions.

In January 2004, Prime Minister Charles died in office and was succeeded by Education Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. In November 2004 an earthquake caused millions of dollars in damage on the island’s north side. In May 2005, Skerrit and the DLP won the general elections.

13 Government

Under its 1978 constitution, Dominica has a single-chamber parliament, the House of Assembly, with 21 elected and 9 appointed members. Parliament elects a president as head of state, who in turn appoints the prime minister and cabinet. There are 25 village councils, and both Roseau and Portsmouth have town councils. There are also 10 parishes.

14 Political Parties

Dominica’s major political parties are the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), and the United Workers Party (UWP). The DFP held the majority from 1980 until 1995. That year, the UWP won 11 of the 21 seats and made Edison James prime minister. By 2000 the DLP had formed a coalition government with the DFP. In the general election of 2005, the DLP won 52.08% of the vote, followed by the UWP at 43.6%, and the DFP with 3.15%.

15 Judicial System

The lowest-level courts are the four magistrates’ courts; at the second level is the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. The highest court is the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, based in

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

Saint Lucia, another island of the British West Indies.

In exceptional cases prior to 2003, appeals were made to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. In 2003, however, Caribbean leaders met in Jamaica to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Dominica was one of eight nations approving the CCJ.

16 Armed Forces

There is a police force of 300. Defense from foreign attack would come from the United States or the United Kingdom.

17 Economy

The entire economy is based largely on agriculture, fishing, and forestry. Bananas are the main crop, and coconuts, from which copra is extracted for export, also are important. In recent years, light industry, such as soap production, and tourism have begun to develop. There are no white sand beaches, but Dominica does have the highest peak in the Caribbean, rain forests, waterfalls, hot springs, and over 365 rivers to attract hikers, naturalists, and divers. Cruise liners began dropping anchor at Dominica in 1999. In 2003, the government began a broad restructuring of the island’s economy. The government has been promoting industrial development involving agricultural product processing and light industry. The government was also looking to build a new airport which would have improved accessibility.

18 Income

In 2005, Dominica’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at us$384 million, or us$5,500 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3%. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 1%.

19 Industry

Dominica has only light industry, most of it connected with the processing of agricultural products. Shoes, cement blocks, furniture, soap, and toiletries are exported. Home industries produce ceramics, straw products, and some leather work. Since the 1990s, the small manufacturing sector has been expanding at a modest pace. Electronics assembly, rum, candles, and paints are among the products being made in Dominica. In 2004, industry accounted for 33% of GDP.

20 Labor

The labor force in 2002 was estimated at 25,000. About 40% of the labor force is employed in

agriculture, fishing, or forestry. Industry and commerce account for 32% of the workforce, with services accounting for 28%. As of 2005, about 33% of the workforce was unionized. Unemployment was 23% in 2002.

The average minimum wage was between us$0.74 and us$1.11 per hour in 2005 for most workers. These wages are not sufficient to support a family, although most workers earn more than the minimum. The minimum working age is 15, and this is generally observed without government enforcement.

21 Agriculture

About 28% of the total land area is arable. Agriculture accounts for about 18% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 40% of the labor force. In 2004, agricultural exports amounted to us$ 15.3 million. Most crops are produced on small farms, but there are also several large farms that produce mostly bananas for export. Coconuts and citrus fruits are grown in commercial quantities. In 2004, production included 11,500 tons of coconuts, 17,000 tons of grapefruit, 1,020 tons of lemons and limes, and 7,200 tons of oranges. Fruits and vegetables are produced mostly for local consumption.

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

22 Domesticated Animals

There are about 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of pastureland, comprising 2.7% of the total land area. The island does not produce sufficient meat, poultry, or eggs for local consumption. In 2004 there were an estimated 13,400 head of cattle, 9,700 goats, 7,600 sheep, and 5,000 hogs. In 2004, meat production totaled 1,364 tons, while milk production totaled 6,100 tons.

23 Fishing

Hurricanes David (1979) and Luis (1995) destroyed almost all of the island’s 470 fishing boats. Since then, only about a dozen vessels have been reconstructed. In 2003, the catch was 1,103 tons, up from 552 tons in 1991.

24 Forestry

About 61% of Dominica’s total land area is classified as forest. There are about 280 hectares (700 acres) of government land allocated to commercial forestry and about 100 hectares (240 acres) of forestland in private hands. Commercially valuable woods include mahogany, blue and red mahoe, and teak. Total exports of forest products in 2000 amounted to us$10.3 million.

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

25 Mining

Dominica’s mining sector plays a minor role in its economy. Pumice is the major commodity extracted from the island for export, and Dominica produces clay, limestone, volcanic ash, and sand and gravel, primarily for the construction industry.

26 Foreign Trade

Exports include bananas, soap, vegetables, paint, and perfume. Dominica’s major trading partners are the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) nations, the European

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

Indicator Dominica Low-income countries High-income countries United States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$5,290 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate-0.1% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land95 803032
Life expectancy in years: male72 587675
female78 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.5 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)n.a. 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)94% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people252 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people288 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)n.a. 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)1.55 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

Union, and the United States. In 2004, exports totaled us$41.2 million and consisted mainly of bananas, citrus fruits, soap, and cocoa.

27 Energy and Power

A large portion of Dominica’s power supply already comes from hydroelectric sources. The island also has thermal power potential in a volcanic lake. In 2002 electric power output was placed at 65 to 68.41 and up to as much as 80.1 million kilowatt hours.

28 Social Development

In 1976 the government established the Social Security Scheme, which covers all workers from fourteen to sixty years of age. Benefits include retirement and disability pensions, sickness benefits, maternity benefits, and survivors’ pensions. Apart from the constitution, there is no specific legislation in force to protect women from sex discrimination.

29 Health

In 2004 there were an estimated 50 physicians, 415 nurses and 6 dentists for every 100,000 people. The one general hospital on Dominica, the 195-bed Princess Margaret Hospital, is in Roseau. There are 7 health centers and 44 clinics scattered across the island. Serious tropical diseases have been eliminated. However, because of the high humidity and rainy conditions, tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases continue to be a problem. Intestinal parasites afflict very young children. In 2005, infant mortality was estimated at 14.15 per 1,000 live births.

Average life expectancy was estimated at 74.65 years in 2005. In 2001 the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was estimated at 7,500.

Hurricane David destroyed the homes of more than four-fifths of the population in 1979. Under an emergency housing program, construction supplies were brought into the island, and shelters were built for most of the population.

Most dwellings are detached houses. Over half of all housing units are wooden, while smaller percentages are either concrete or wood and concrete.

31 Education

Education is compulsory between the ages of five and sixteen. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level averages 19 to 1. Technical and vocational studies offer practical training in technical and electrical engineering, auto mechanics, plumbing, general business, construction, and agriculture. Transportation to secondary schools is a problem for students in rural areas.

Higher educational facilities include a teacher training institute, a technical college, a nursing school, and a local center maintained by the University of the West Indies. Teaching staff numbers around 34 and students around 500 in higher-level institutions.

As of 2003, the adult literacy rate was estimated at around 94%. As of 2003, public spending on education was estimated at 5% of gross domestic product (GDP).

32 Media

In 2002, there were 23,700 mainline telephones in use, with an additional 9,400 cellular phones throughout the country. There are 703 radios in 1997 (the latest year for which data was available). In 2006, there were an estimated 252 television sets per 1,000 population. There were 2 AM and 4 FM radio stations and one (cable) television station, as of 2004. Dominicans also receive TV and radio broadcasts from neighboring islands. There are an estimated 288 Internet users for every 1,000 people. Two weekly newspapers are published in Roseau, the Chronicle (circulation in 2002, 2,500) and the government-published Official Gazette (550), among other journals and periodicals.

The constitution provides for the right of free expression, and the government is said to respect free speech and a free press.

33 Tourism and Recreation

Dominica’s principal attraction is the rugged natural beauty of its volcanic peaks, forests, lakes, waterfalls, and more than 365 rivers. Day trips to Dominica from Barbados, Guadeloupe, and Martinique have gained increasing popularity. Cricket is the national sport. In 2003, a total of 72,948 tourists visited Dominica, of whom 83% came from the Americas. Revenues from tourism reach us$49 million. Hotel rooms number only around 857.

34 Famous Dominicans

Maria Eugenia Charles (b.1919), cofounder of the Dominica Freedom Party, served as prime minister from 1980 until 1995. The novelist Jean Rhys (1894–1979) is best known for her book Wide Sargasso Sea, which is considered to be a prequel to the Charlotte Bronte novel Jane Eyre.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Cameron, Sarah, and Ben Box, eds. Caribbean Islands Handbook. Chicago: Passport Books, 1995.

Hulme, Peter. Remnants of Conquest: The Island Caribs and Their Visitors, 1877–1998. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Orr, Tamra. Windward Islands: St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Martinique &amp; Dominica. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers, 2004.

Schwab, David, ed. Insight Guides. Caribbean: The Lesser Antilles. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Staub, Frank J. Children of Dominica. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1999.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/dominica/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Commonwealth Country Profiles. www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID =138439. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/do/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

World Heritage List. whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/dm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Dominica

Dominica

Compiled from the November 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Commonwealth of Dominica

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-DOMINICAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 754 sq. km. (290 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Roseau (population 14,500).

Terrain: Mountainous volcanic island with rainforest cover.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Dominican (Dom-i-nee-can).

Population: (July 2004.) 70, 400.

Annual growth rate: (2004.) -0.1%.

Ethnic groups: Mainly of African descent, mixed Black and European, Syrian and some Carib Amerindians.

Religions: Roman Catholic (77%), Protestant (15%) (Methodist (5%), Pentecostal (3%), Seventh-Day Adventist (3%), Baptist (2%), other (2%), other (6%), none (2%).

Languages: English (official); a French patois is widely spoken.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy—94%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2006 est.)—13.71/1,000. Life expectancy (2004)—male 7 years2, female 78 years.

Work force: (2004 est.) 47,000 Agriculture—37%; services—30%; commerce—20%.

Unemployment—exceeds 26% (Eastern Caribbean Central Bank estimate).

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy; republic within commonwealth.

Independence: November 3, 1978.

Constitution: November 1978.

Government branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Assembly. Judicial—magistrate and jury courts, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court and Court of Appeals), Privy Council.

Political subdivisions: 10 parishes.

Political parties: Dominica Labour Party, Dominica Freedom Party (ruling coalition partners), and United Workers Party (opposition).

Suffrage: Universal adult.

Economy

GDP: (2004) $282.2 million.

GDP growth rate: (2005) 3.5%.

Per capita GDP: (2004) $4010.

Natural resources: timber, water (hydropower), copper.

Agriculture: (18.7% of GDP in 2004) Products—bananas, citrus, coconuts, cocoa, herbal oils and extracts.

Manufacturing: (8.1% of GDP in 2004) Types—agricultural processing, soap and other coconut-based products, apparel.

Trade: Exports—$41.2 million: (2004) bananas-, soap, bay oil, vegetables, grapefruit, oranges and cocoa. Major markets—(2005) UK (25.9%), Jamaica (14.8%), Antigua & Barbuda (8.8%), Guyana (7.5%), Trinidad and Tobago (4.8%) and Saint Lucia (4%). Imports—$145 million: (2004) machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured articles, cement. Major suppliers—(2005 est.) US (24.2%), China (19.4%), Trinidad and Tobago (12.3%), UK (4.7%), South Korea (4.6%) and Japan (4.4%).

PEOPLE

Almost all Dominicans are descendants of African slaves brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. Dominica is the only island in the eastern Caribbean to retain some of its pre-Columbian population—the Carib Indians—about 3,000 of whom live on the island’s east coast. The population growth rate is very low, due primarily to emigration to more prosperous Caribbean Islands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. English is the official language; however, because of historic French domination, the most widely spoken dialect is a French patois. About 80% of the population is Catholic. In recent years, a number of Protestant churches have been established.

HISTORY

The island’s indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Caribs in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493. Spanish ships frequently landed on Dominica during the 16th century, but fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged Spain’s efforts at settlement.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained; rival expeditions of British and French foresters were harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.

Largely due to Dominica’s position between Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a French settlement was established and grew. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years’ War, the island became a British possession. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the French mounted a successful invasion with the active cooperation of the population. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, returned the island to Britain. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.

In 1763, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only the white population. In 1831, reflecting a liberalization of official British racial attitudes, the Brown Privilege Bill conferred political and social rights on free nonwhites. Three Blacks were elected to the legislative assembly the following year. Following the abolition of slavery, in 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature in the 19th century. Most Black legislators were smallholders or merchants who held economic and social views diametrically opposed to the interests of the small, wealthy English planter class. Reacting to a perceived threat, the planters lobbied for more direct British rule.

In 1865, after much agitation and tension, the colonial office replaced the elective assembly with one comprised of one-half elected members and one-half appointed. Planters allied with colonial administrators outmaneuvered the elected legislators on numerous occasions. In 1871, Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation. The power of the Black population progressively eroded. Crown Colony government was re-established in 1896. All political rights for the vast majority of the population were effectively curtailed. Development aid, offered as compensation for disenfranchisement, proved to have a negligible effect.

Following World War I, an upsurge of political consciousness throughout the Caribbean led to the formation of the Representative Government Association. Marshaling public frustration with the lack of a voice in the governing of Dominica, this group won one-third of the popularly elected seats of the legislative assembly in 1924 and one-half in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Dominica was transferred from the Leeward Island Administration and was governed as part of the Windwards until 1958, when it joined the short-lived West Indies Federation.

After the federation dissolved, Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom in 1967 and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. On November 3, 1978, the Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom.

Independence did little to solve problems stemming from centuries of economic underdevelopment, and in mid-1979, political discontent led to the formation of an interim government. It was replaced after the 1980 elections by a government led by the Dominica Freedom Party under Prime Minister Eugenia Charles, the Caribbean’s first female prime minister. Chronic economic problems were compounded by the severe impact of hurricanes in 1979 and in 1980. By the end of the 1980s, the economy had made a healthy recovery, which weakened in the 1990s due to a decrease in banana prices.

In January 2000 elections, the Edison James United Workers Party (UWP) was defeated by the Dominican Labour Party (DLP), led by Roosevelt P. “Rosie” Douglas. Douglas died after only a few months in office and was replaced by Pierre Charles, who died in office in January 2004. Roosevelt Skerrit, also of the DLP, replaced Charles as Prime Minister. Under Prime Minister Skerrit’s leadership, the DLP won elections in May 2005 that gave the party 12 seats in the 21-member Parliament to the UWP’s 8 seats. An independent candidate affiliated with the DLP won a seat as well.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Dominica has a Westminster-style parliamentary government, and there are three political parties—the Dominica Labour Party (the majority party), the Dominica United Workers Party, and the Dominica Freedom Party. A president and prime minister make up the executive branch. Nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition party, the president is elected for a 5-year term by the parliament. The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the parliament and also appoints, on the prime minister’s recommendation, members of the parliament from the ruling party as cabinet ministers. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed on a no-confidence vote.

The unicameral parliament, called the House of Assembly, is composed of 21 regional representatives and nine senators. The regional representatives are elected by universal suffrage and, in turn, decide whether senators are to be elected or appointed. If appointed, five are chosen by the president with the advice of the prime minister and four with the advice of the opposition leader. If elected, it is by vote of the regional representatives. Elections for representatives and senators must be held at least every 5 years, although the prime minister can call elections any time. The last election was held in May 2005.

Dominica’s legal system is based on English common law. There are three magistrate’s courts, with appeals made to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and, ultimately, to the Privy Council in London.

Councils elected by universal suffrage govern most towns. Supported largely by property taxation, the councils are responsible for the regulation of markets and sanitation and the maintenance of secondary roads and other municipal amenities. The island is also divided into 10 parishes, whose governance is unrelated to the town governments.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 5/25/2005

President: Nicholas J. O. LIVERPOOL

Prime Minister: Roosevelt SKERRIT

Min. of Agriculture & the Environment: Colin MCINTYRE

Min. for Caribbean Affairs: Kelly GRANEAU

Min. of Community Development, Gender Affairs, & Information: Mathew WALTERS

Min. of Education, Human Resources Development, Sports, & Youth Affairs: Vince HENDERSON

Min. of Finance, Planning, National Security, and Overseas Nationals: Roosevelt SKERRIT

Min. of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Labor, & Public Service: Charles SAVARIN

Min. of Health & Social Security: John FABIEN

Min. of Housing, Lands, Telecommunications, Energy, and Ports: Reginald AUSTRIE

Min. of Legal Affairs, Labor, & Immigration: Ian DOUGLAS

Min. of Tourism, Industry, & Private Sector Relations: Loreen BANNIS-ROBERTS

Attorney General: Ian DOUGLAS

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Crispin GREGOIRE

Although the Dominican ambassador to the United States has customarily been resident in Dominica, the country maintains an embassy in the U.S. at 3216 New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20016 (tel. 202-364-6781). Dominica also has a consulate general co-located with its UN mission in New York at Suite 900, 820 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel: 212-599-8478).

ECONOMY

Dominica’s economy grew by 3.5% in 2005, and 3.2% in 2004, following a decade of poor performance. The country nearly had a financial crisis in 2003 and 2004, but it has managed to stabilize its debt and fiscal deficits using some difficult reform measures, earning the praise of international financial institutions (IFIs).

Bananas and other agriculture dominate Dominica’s economy, and nearly one-third of the labor force works in agriculture. This sector, however, is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and to external events affecting commodity prices. In response to decreasing European Union (EU) banana trade preferences, the government has diversified the agricultural sector, with the export of small quantities of citrus fruits and vegetables and the introduction of coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, and exotic fruits such as mangoes, guavas, and papayas. Dominica also has had some success in increasing its manufactured exports, primarily soap. Dominica also recently entered the offshore financial services market. Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, tourism has developed more slowly than on neighboring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica’s high, rugged mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive eco-tourism destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in the capital.

Dominica’s currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), a regional currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the EC$, manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries. The ECCB has kept the EC$pegged at EC$2.7=US$1.

Dominica is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative that grants duty-free entry into the U.S. for many goods. In 2004, exports totaled $41 million, with 3% going to the U.S. Dominica’s imports totaled $145 million, 35% from the U.S. Dominica also belongs to the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Like its Eastern Caribbean neighbors, the main priority of Dominica’s foreign relations is economic development. The country maintains missions in Washington, New York, London, and Brussels and is represented jointly with other Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) members in Canada. Dominica also is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the British Commonwealth. It became a member of the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1978 and of the World Bank and Organization of American States (OAS) in 1979.

U.S.-DOMINICAN RELATIONS

The United States and Dominica have friendly bilateral relations. The United States supports the Dominican Government’s efforts to expand its economic base and to provide a higher standard of living for its citizens. U.S. assistance is primarily channeled through multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), as well as through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Peace Corps also provides technical assistance to Dominica, and has volunteers on the island working primarily in education, youth development, and health.

In addition, the United States and Dominica work together in the battle against illegal drugs. Dominica cooperates with U.S. agencies and participates in counternarcotics programs in an effort to curb narco-trafficking and marijuana cultivation. In 1995, the Dominican Government signed a maritime law enforcement agreement with the U.S. to strengthen counternarcotics coordination, and in 1996, the government signed mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties to enhance joint efforts in combating international crime.

Dominica had around 252,000 visitors in 2005, which represented a contraction in both cruise line and stay-over arrivals over the record performance set in 2004. It is estimated that 4,500 Americans reside in the country.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BRIDGETOWN (E) Address: Wildey Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael BB 14006; APO/FPO: APO AA 34055; Phone: 246-436-4950; Fax: 246-429-5246; Workweek: Mon-Fri: 8.00–4.30.

AMB:Mary M. Ourisman
AMB OMS:Honora L. Myers
DCM:Mary Ellen T. Gilroy
DCM OMS:Joann M. Liner-Collins
CG:Clyde I. Howard
POL:Sheila J. Peters
MGT:Dean Wooden
AID:James Goggin
CLO:Monique Weekes
DAO:Edgar Hernandez (res. Caracas)
DEA:Charles Graham
ECO:Anthony Eterno
EEO:Ricardo Cabrera
FAA:Dawn Flanagan (res. Washington)
FCS:Michael McGee (Santo Domingo)
FMO:Karin Sullivan
GSO:Paul A. Kalinowski
ICASS Chair:Cdr. P. Kofi Aboagye
IMO:Ricardo Cabrera
IRS:Cheryl Kast
ISO:Manuel Dipre
ISSO:Manuel Dipre
LAB:Martina Strong
LEGATT:Samuel Bryant
MLO:Cdr.P. Kofi Aboagye
NAS:Julie A. O’Reagan(Acting)
PAO:Julie A. O’Reagan
RSO:Robert W. Starnes

Last Updated: 1/9/2007

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

Caribbean/Latin America Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : October 13, 2006

Country Description: Dominica is an English-speaking developing Caribbean island nation. The tourism industry in is the early stages of development; first-class tourist facilities are limited, but medium-range facilities are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: Important New Information: Effective January 23, 2007, all U.S. citizens traveling by air to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada are required to have a valid passport to enter or re-enter the United States. As early as January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on applying for a passport.

Until these new regulations take effect, U.S. citizens must present a valid or expired passport, a certified U.S. birth certificate and photo identification, Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization, and a return or onward ticket. U.S. citizens should take special care to secure these documents while traveling, as it can be time-consuming and difficult to acquire new proof of citizenship to facilitate return travel should the original documents be lost or stolen. There is a departure tax assessed when leaving Dominica. Children under twelve years of age are exempt from the departure tax. For further information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 3216 New Mexico Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016, telephone (202) 364-6781, email [email protected], or the Consulate General of Dominica in New York at (212) 768-2480. The Dominica Division of Tourism official website is www.ndcdominica.dm.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Petty street crime occurs in Dominica. Valuables left unattended, especially on beaches, are vulnerable to theft.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is limited. There are four hospitals in Dominica, only one of which performs general surgery, and several clinics. There is no hyperbaric chamber; divers requiring treatment for decompression illness must be evacuated to Guadeloupe. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Dominica is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Vehicles are driven on the left in Dominica. Seatbelt laws are not strictly enforced. Roads are narrow with steep inclines throughout the island. There are few guardrails in areas that have precipitous drop-offs from the road. Road signs are limited outside of the major towns. Drivers should be alert for minibus (taxi) drivers, who often make sudden stops or pull out into traffic without warning or signaling. For specific information concerning Dominica driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Dominica national tourist organization offices in New York via telephone number (212) 949-1711, fax number (212) 949-1714, or email [email protected]

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Dominica’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Dominica’s air carrier operations. For more information, visit the FAA’s Internet website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Dominica. The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados is responsible for American Citizens Services on the island of Dominica. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.

Like all Caribbean countries, Dominica can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Dominica’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Dominica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Dominica are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Dominica Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in the First Caribbean International Bank Building on Broad Street, telephone 1-246-436-4950, website http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov/. The Consular Section is located in the American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) Building, Cheapside, telephone 1-246-431-0225 or fax 1-246-431-0179, website http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov. Hours of operation are 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:00-2:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, except Barbados and U.S. holidays.

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Dominica

Dominica

Type of Government

Dominica is a parliamentary democracy whose executive branch comprises a prime minister, cabinet ministers, and a president. Legislative power is wielded by the unicameral House of Assembly, and the independent judicial branch is based on English common law.

Background

Located in the Caribbean island chain known as the Lesser Antilles, Dominica is a mountainous island with unspoiled rain forests. Originally inhabited by the native Arawak people, the island was conquered by Caribs in the fourteenth century. In 1493 Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) landed on the island, claiming it for Spain and giving it its current name. Although Spanish ships often called at the island, the Spanish were prevented from major settlement by the hostile Caribs for more than a century.

After the French claimed the island in 1635, missionaries began arriving. However, the resistance of the Caribs also ended this European incursion, and throughout the rest of the seventeenth century, Dominica remained unsettled by Europeans and declared officially neutral.

The island’s rich natural resources attracted both the British and French again in the early eighteenth century, with French planters establishing coffee and banana plantations and the British cutting timber. Throughout the eighteenth century, the island was handed back and forth between France and Britain, with the British establishing hegemony by 1805.

The island has a long history of participatory government. In 1763 the first legislature was established, and by 1831 the British had extended political participation to the non-white population. The British Empire abolished slavery in 1834, and over the following decade Dominica became the only Caribbean colony with a black-controlled legislature. However, the wealthy English planters, fearful of losing their influence, petitioned London, and beginning in 1865, the legislative assembly was no longer directly elected. Instead, half of the members were appointed by the Colonial Office in London, and half were elected. From that time on the power of the black Dominicans waned, and in 1871 Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation, a group of British-colonial Caribbean islands that was governed from Barbados. By 1896 the island was governed as a Crown colony, and the political control of the native residents was significantly reduced.

It was not until the years following World War I that local black leaders began agitating for more political power. By 1936 a full half of the members of the legislative assembly were Afro-Dominicans, and in 1951 the British government agreed to allow universal suffrage. Between 1952 and 1958 the classification and administration of the island was in a state of flux: the British transferred the island from the Leeward Island Federation to the Windward Islands and then to the West Indies Federation, with a change in administration at each juncture. In 1967 Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom as part of the West Indies Associated States. Though Dominica was internally autonomous from 1967, Britain did not grant full independence until November 3, 1978.

Government Structure

The 1978 constitution established what is known as a Westminster style of parliamentary government, one based in part on the English model. The executive branch comprises a president, prime minister, and cabinet. The president is nominated by the prime minister, in consultation with the leader of the opposition party, and is elected by the unicameral parliament to a five-year term. The prime minister, in turn, is the leader of the majority party in parliament and is appointed by the president. The cabinet ministers, nominated by the prime minister from among members of the majority party in parliament, are also appointed by the president.

Legislative power lies with the House of Assembly, comprising twenty-one regional representatives elected by universal suffrage. These representatives, in turn, determine the selection process for the nine senators in the House of Assembly. The elected representatives can decide to appoint the senators, in which case five are nominated by the prime minister and four by the leader of the opposition party. Conversely, the representatives can also decide to elect the senators, which is done by direct vote of the twenty-one regional representatives. Representatives and senators must be elected every five years; elections can also be called earlier by the prime minister.

The third branch of government, the judiciary, comprises three magistrate’s courts, with appeals made to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), an itinerant court with oversight over nine member states, one of which is Dominica.

Town Councils elected by universal suffrage govern most municipalities. These councils are supported mostly by property taxation, and are responsible for municipal services, such as roads and sewage. The island is also divided into ten parishes that are governed separately from the town governments. The capital of Dominica is Roseau.

Political Parties and Factions

Dominica has three main political parties: the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), and the United Workers’ Party (UWP).

The DFP is a conservative party. Once the ruling party—under Prime Minister Mary Eugenia Charles (1919–2005), the country’s first female prime minister and a co-founder of the party—the DFP has seen a significant decline in support since 1995. In the 2000 elections, the party won only 13.6 percent of the popular vote, earning two seats in the House of Assembly. In the 2005 elections, the party lost even those two seats, though the majority DLP, in order to maintain a coalition with the DFP, gave its leader, Charles Savarin (1943–), a seat on the Senate.

The oldest extant political party in Dominica, the DLP came to power in 1961 under the leadership of Edward Oliver LeBlanc (1923–2004). LeBlanc saw the country to self-ruling status in 1967 before retiring in 1974. Espousing social-democratic policies, the DLP has been the majority party in Dominica since 2000. Despite having two successive prime ministers die in office, the DLP took twelve of the twenty-one seats in the House of Assembly in 2005 and again secured the office of prime minister for the DLP leader, Roosevelt Skerrit (1972–).

The third major party in Dominica is the UWP, a centrist party founded in 1988 by Edison James (1943–). In the 1995 elections, the UWP took eleven seats in the House, thus making it the majority party and its leader, James, the prime minister. In the 2000 elections, though winning the majority of the popular vote, the UWP won only nine seats in the house and became, once again, the opposition party. With the retirement of James in 2005, Earl Williams (1964–) became leader of the party.

Major Events

Dominica was led by an interim government from 1979 to the 1980 election, in which Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, head of the DFP, became the first female head of government in the Caribbean. She took control of a country beset by a poor economy and recently ravaged by hurricanes and set about to establish a degree of economic stability. She encouraged tourism, but was also determined to preserve the island’s ecology and national identity. By the end of the 1980s, the economy of Dominica had made a mild recovery, only to be hurt again by falling banana prices in the 1990s.

Reelected in 1985 and 1990, Dame Charles retired in 1995 at the age of seventy-five. Though the head of a conservative party, Charles pushed through some social welfare measures during her time in office, as well as anti-corruption measures and individual freedom laws. Dominica came to world attention in 1983, when Charles encouraged the U.S. invasion of Grenada to prevent what she saw as Cuban infiltration of that island. With the imposition of austerity measures in 2002, large protests were held throughout the island.

Twenty-First Century

Government corruption and economic underdevelopment have been nagging problems in Dominica. During the administration of Prime Minister Charles, the government initiated policies aimed at balancing tourism with preservation of the island’s ecology and native culture, and as a result of government investment, Dominica has become a major destination for ecotourism. Dominica’s primary export is the banana crop, which suffered in 2000, leading to an economic crisis.

In 2005 universal secondary education was introduced in Dominica, enabling all students on the island to attend high school. The ruling DLP took as its next mission the establishment of a post-secondary education system.

Booth, Robert. “Dominica, Difficult Paradise.” National Geographic (June 1990): 100–120.

Honeychurch, Lennox. The Dominica Story: A History of the Island . Roseau, Dominica: Dominica Institute, 1984.

Myers, Robert A. Dominica . Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1987.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Peasants and Capital: Dominica in the World Economy . Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.

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Dominica

Dominica

Dominica, a small Caribbean island nation in the Lesser Antilles, located between Martinique and Guadeloupe in the chain of islands known as the Windwards. Dominica was sighted and named by Christopher Columbus on 3 November 1493, but the island remained a stronghold of the native Carib peoples until the flow of European settlers to the area increased in the late seventeenth century. The island was one of the many smaller islands that Spain could not or chose not to exclude other European powers from seizing, so in the era of imperial rivalries Dominica became the target of competing French and British claims. After driving the Caribs into the mountains, the French held most of the island until 1761. That year, however, the British seized the island as part of their effort to build an empire in North America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere during the Seven Years' War.

Under the British, Dominica became a classic slave society producing tropical agricultural products for export to Europe. The population of slaves and settlers skyrocketed. With the end of French efforts to claim the island in the first decade of the nineteenth century, coffee production was established as the first in a series of cash crops that would subject Dominica to cycles of economic boom and collapse. Around 1900 coffee and sugar gave way to cocoa, to be replaced by bananas in the middle of the twentieth century.

After the establishment of an elected assembly in 1763, Britain consistently dictated policy for the island, with minor changes in representation, until 3 November 1978, when Dominica gained its independence from Britain. The process toward autonomy had been a gradual one throughout most of the twentieth century, with increasing participation by Dominicans in self-rule and expanding suffrage.

See alsoBanana Industry; Caribs; Coffee Industry; Slavery: Spanish America; Sugar Industry; Windward Islands.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Robert A. Meyers, Dominica (1987).

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Peasants and Capital: Dominica in the World Economy (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Gimbernat González, Ester.La poesía de mujeres dominicanas a fines del siglo XX. Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 2002.

Honychurch, Lennox. The Dominicana Story: A History of the Island. London: Macmillan, 1995.

                                  Todd Little-Siebold

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Dominica

Dominica

  • Area: 291 sq mi (754 sq km) / World Rank: 177
  • Location: Northern and Western Hemispheres, Caribbean Sea, between Guadeloupe and Martinique
  • Coordinates: 15°25′N, 61°20′E
  • Borders: None
  • Coastline: 92 mi (148 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM
  • Highest Point: Morne Diablotin 4,747 ft (1,447 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest Distances: 29 mi (47 km) N-S / 16 mi (26 km) E-W
  • Longest River: None of significant size
  • Natural Hazards: Hurricanes, flash floods
  • Population: 70,786 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 189
  • Capital City: Roseau, southwestern Dominica
  • Largest City: Roseau, 21,000 (2000 est.)

OVERVIEW

Dominica, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, lies at the midpoint of the Lesser Antilles, between the French possessions of Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south.

The rugged, mountainous terrain that covers much of the interior is the island's outstanding physical feature. The two mountainous regions, in the north and south, are separated by the Layou River plain at the center of the island. Lush vegetation and abundant wildlife of the rain forests cover the country's elevated lands.

Signs of Dominica's volcanic origins, and its relative geological newness, include hot springs, sulfur springs bubbling from volcanic vents, and Boiling Lake, one of the country's best-known features. The island is located on the Caribbean Tectonic Plate.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Mountains

Deep ridges, ravines, and valleys are etched in the densely wooded mountains. The island's highest peak, Morne Diablotin, is located in the mountains to the north, while its second-highest, Morne Trois Pitons—which at 4,667 ft (1,387 m) is nearly as high as Diablotin—is situated in the south. Other high peaks include Morne au Diable, Morne Brule, Morne Couronne, Morne Anglais, and Morne Plat Pays.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Dominica has a number of thermally active lakes, of which the best known is Boiling Lake, in the southeastern part of the island. There are many streams and rivers, but none are navigable. The main rivers are Indian, Espagnol, Layou, Roseau, and Queens running west to the Caribbean Sea, and Toulaman, Hodges, Tweed, Clyde, Maclaralin, Grand Bay, Rosalie, and Wanerie running east to the Atlantic.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Dominica is located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, at the midpoint of the Leeward Islands. Guadeloupe is to the north, across the Dominica Passage; Martinique is south, across the passage of the same name.

A thin coastal strip lies between the sea and the mountains. The coast, which is heavily indented on the eastern side of the island, is fringed with coral reefs.

Population Centers – Dominica
(1991 POPULATION ESTIMATES)
Name Population
Roseau 16,243
Portsmouth 4,000
Marigot 3,000
Atkinson 2,500
SOURCE : "Population of Capital Cities and Cities of 100,000 and More Inhabitants." United Nations Statistics Division.

Black, gray, and white volcanic sand is found on the beaches. Cape Capuchin marks the northern end of the island, with Prince Rupert Bay not far south. Scotts Head and Grand Bay are at the southern end of the island.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

Tempered by sea breezes, Dominica's tropical climate is generally mild and pleasant. Summer temperatures average 82°F (28°C) and may rise as high as 90°F (32°C). Winter temperatures average 77°F (25°C).

Rainfall

Dominica has a dry season in the spring and a rainy season in summer, with rainfall especially heavy during the hurricane season in late summer. Average annual rainfall ranges from about 75 in (191 cm) near the coast to over 200 in (508 cm) in the mountains.

Forests and Jungles

Dominica's mountains are covered with dense forest growth. The most heavily wooded island in the Lesser Antilles, it is known for the rich and varied vegetation of its rainforests, which are protected by a park system. The government has created forest reserves in the north (21,770 acres / 8,708 hectares) and east (1,013 acres / 405 hectares). The numerous tree species include breadfruit, white cedar, coconut, cocoa, and many more, including many species of palm tree. Flowering plants include bougainvillea, frangipani, hibiscus, and poinsettia.

HUMAN POPULATION

It is estimated that over two-thirds of the population is urban. Most of the island's estimated 3,000 Caribs live in a special reserve in eastern Dominica.

NATURAL RESOURCES

In spite of its largely mountainous terrain, over one-fifth of Dominica's land is arable. Other important resources include its forests and the hydropower potential of its many streams.

FURTHER READINGS

Baker, Patrick L. Centering the Periphery: Chaos, Order, and the Ethnohistory of Dominica. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1994.

Commonwealth of Dominica Web site. http://www.ndc.dominica.dm/ (accessed Mar. 14, 2002)

Kincaid, Jamaica. Autobiography of My Mother. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1996.

Philpott, Don. Dominica. Lincolnwood, Ill.: Passport Books, 1996.

Sullivan, Lynne M. Dominica & St Lucia Alive! Edison, N.J.: Hunter, 2002.

GEO-FACT

Boiling Lake is the world's second-largest thermally active lake. The pressure of gases escaping from the volcanic vent underneath regularly raises the lake's water level by as much as 3 ft (1 m).

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Dominica

Dominica

At a Glance

Official Name: Commonwealth of Dominica

Continent: North America

Area: 290 square miles (750 sq km)

Population: 70,786

Capital City: Roseau

Largest City: Roseau (20,775)

Unit of Money: East Caribbean dollar

Major Languages: English (official) French

Literacy: 97%

Land Use: 9% arable, 13% permanent crops, 3% meadows, 67% forest/woodland, 8% other

Natural Resources: Timber

Government: Parliamentary democracy

Defense: No armed forces

The Place

Dominica is a small island in the Caribbean Sea, about 320 miles (515 km) north of Venezuela. The island has 92 miles (148 km) of coastline.

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Mountains dominate Dominica. A large range extends through the country from north to south. The island's highest elevation is Mount Diablotin at 4,747 feet (1,447 m). A large plain lies in the middle of the mountain range. Several lowland areas also exist on the coast.

The volcanoes in Dominica are probably extinct, but some geologists believe the island's thermal springs have shown some volcanic activity. Past volcanic eruptions have provided the island with rich soil, and many tropical plants grow there. Some regions are rain forests. Temperatures in Dominica range from 65° F (18° C) to 90 ° F (32° C). The mountains receive the most rain, averaging about 400 inches (1,00 cm) each year.

The People

Slightly more than half the people in Dominica live in urban areas. The population density is 245 people per square mile (87 people per sq km). Most Dominicans live in single-family houses or thatched-roof huts.

Agriculture plays a large role in Dominican life. About 60% of the labor force works on farms growing bananas, grapefruit, limes, and vegetables. Most other workers are employed by agricultural processing plants.

Dominica is one of the poorest nations in the Caribbean. A field worker is paid about 70 cents per hour, while an office worker earns about 3.50 an hour.

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

The population in Dominica is fairly young—more than a quarter of Dominicans are under the age of 15. Education is required for children ages 5 to 15. The average life expectancy on the island is 78 years.

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Dominica

DOMINICA

Compiled from the November 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Commonwealth of Dominica

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-DOMINICAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 754 sq. km. (290 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Roseau.

Terrain: Mountainous volcanic island with rainforest cover.

Climate: Tropical.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Dominican (Dom-i-nee-can).

Population: (2002 est.) 70,158.

Annual growth rate: 0.9%.

Ethnic groups: Mainly African descent, some Carib Indians.

Religions: Roman Catholic (80%), Anglican, other Protestant denominations.

Languages: English (official); a French patois is widely spoken.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy—94%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—
15.94/1,000. Life expectancy—76 yrs.

Work force: (1997) (49,860) Agriculture—37%; services—30%; commerce —20%. Unemployment — exceeds 26% (ECCB estimate).


Government

Type: Parliamentary Democracy; republic within commonwealth.

Independence: November 3, 1978.

Constitution: November 1978.

Branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral house of assembly. Judicial—magistrate and jury courts, Eastern Caribbean supreme court (high court and court of appeals), Privy Council.

Subdivisions: 10 parishes.

Political parties: Dominica Labor Party, Dominica Freedom Party (ruling coalition partners), and United Workers Party (opposition).

Suffrage: Universal adult.


Economy (2002)

GDP: $250 million.

GDP growth rate: -4.75 (2002 IMF estimate)

Per capita GDP: $3,424.

Natural resources: timber, water (hydropower), copper.

Agriculture: (17% of GDP) Products—bananas, citrus, coconuts, cocoa, herbal oils and extracts.

Manufacturing: (8.5% of GDP) Types—agricultural processing, soap and other coconut-based products, apparel.

Trade: Exports—$47.4 million (2001) bananas, citrus fruits, soap, and cocoa. Major markets—European Union (EU), CARICOM, U.S. (16%). Imports—$100 million (2001) machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured articles, cement. Major suppliers-OE CS, CARICOM, U.S., Canada, EU, Japan.


PEOPLE

Almost all Dominicans are descendants of African slaves brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. Dominica is the only island in the eastern Caribbean to retain some of its pre-Columbian population—the Carib Indians—about 3,000 of whom live on the island's east coast. The population growth rate is very low, due primarily to emigration to more prosperous Caribbean Islands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.


English is the official language; however, because of historic French domination, the most widely spoken dialect is a French patois. About 80% of the population is Catholic. In recent years, a number of Protestant churches have been established.


HISTORY

The island's indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Caribs in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493. Spanish ships frequently landed on Dominica during the 16th century, but fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged Spain's efforts at settlement.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained; rival expeditions of British and French foresters were harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.


Largely due to Dominica's position between Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a French settlement was established and grew. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the seven years' war, the island became a British possession. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the French mounted a successful invasion with the active cooperation of the population, which was largely French. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, returned the island to Britain. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.


In 1763, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only the white population. In 1831, reflecting a liberalization of official British racial attitudes, the Brown Privilege Bill conferred political and social rights on free non whites. Three Blacks were elected to the legislative assembly the following year. Following the abolition of slavery, in 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature in the 19th century. Most Black legislators were small holders or merchants who held economic and social views diametrically opposed to the interests of the small, wealthy English planter class. Reacting to a perceived threat, the planters lobbied for more direct British rule.


In 1865, after much agitation and tension, the colonial office replaced the elective assembly with one comprised of one-half elected members and one-half appointed. Planters allied with colonial administrators outmaneuvered the elected legislators on numerous occasions. In 1871, Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation. The power of the Black population progressively eroded. Crown Colony government was re-established in 1896. All political rights for the vast majority of the population were effectively curtailed. Development aid, offered as compensation for disenfranchisement, proved to have a negligible effect.

Following World War I, an upsurge of political consciousness throughout the Caribbean led to the formation of the representative government association. Marshaling public frustration with the lack of a voice in the governing of Dominica, this group won one-third of the popularly elected seats of the legislative assembly in 1924 and one-half in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Dominica was transferred from the Leeward Island Administration and was governed as part of the Windwards until 1958, when it joined the short-lived West Indies Federation.


After the federation dissolved, Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom in 1967 and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. On November 3, 1978, the Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom.


Independence did little to solve problems stemming from centuries of economic underdevelopment, and in mid-1979, political discontent led to the formation of an interim government. It was replaced after the 1980 elections by a government led by the Dominica Freedom Party under Prime Minister Eugenia Charles, the Caribbean's first female prime minister. Chronic economic problems were compounded by the severe impact of hurricanes in 1979 and in 1980. By the end of the 1980s, the economy had made a healthy recovery, which weakened in the 1990s due to a decrease in banana prices.


In February 2000 elections, the Edison James United Workers Party (UWP) was defeated by the Dominican Labor Party (DLP), led by Roosevelt P. "Rosie" Douglas. Douglas died after only a few months in office and was replaced by Pierre Charles, also of the DLP.


GOVERNMENT

Dominica has a Westminster-style parliamentary government, and there are three political parties. The Dominica Labor Party (the majority party), the Dominica United Workers Party, and the Dominica Freedom Party. A president and prime minister make up the executive branch. Nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition party, the president is elected for a 5-year term by the parliament. The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the parliament and also appoints, on the prime minister's recommendation, members of the parliament from the ruling party as cabinet ministers. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed on a no-confidence vote.


The unicameral parliament, called the House of Assembly, is composed of 21 regional representatives and nine senators. The regional representatives are elected by universal suffrage and, in turn, decide whether senators are to be elected or appointed. If appointed, five are chosen by the president with the advice of the prime minister and four with the advice of the opposition leader. If elected, it is by vote of the regional representatives. Elections for representatives and senators must be held at least every 5 years, although the prime minister can call elections any time.


Dominica's legal system is based on English common law. There are three magistrate's courts, with appeals made to the Eastern Caribbean court of appeal and, ultimately, to the Privy Council in London.


Councils elected by universal suffrage govern most towns. Supported largely by property taxation, the councils are responsible for the regulation of markets and sanitation and the maintenance of secondary roads and other municipal amenities. The island is also divided into 10 parishes, whose governance is unrelated to the town governments.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 1/12/04


President: Liverpool, Nicholas J.O.

Prime Minister: Skerrit, Roosevelt

Min. of Agriculture & the Environment: George, Ambrose

Min. of Communications, Works, & Housing: Austrie, Reginald

Min. of Community Development, Gender Affairs, & Information: Walters, Mathew

Min. of Education, Human Resources Development, Sports, & Youth Affairs: Henderson, Vince

Min. of Finance, Planning, & Caribbean Affairs: Skerrit, Roosevelt

Min. of Foreign Affairs, Trade, & Marketing: Riviere, Osborne

Min. of Health & Social Security: Sabroache, Herbert

Min. of Tourism, Enterprise Development, & Establishment: Savarin, Charles

Attorney General: Dyer, Henry

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Gregoire, Crispin



Although the Dominican ambassador to the United States has customarily been resident in Dominica, the country maintains an embassy in the U.S. at 3216 New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016 (tel. 202-364-6781). Dominica also has a consulate general co-located with its UN mission in New York at Suite 900, 820 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel: 212-599-8478).


ECONOMY

Agriculture, with bananas as the principal crop, is still Dominica's economic mainstay. Banana production employs, directly or indirectly, upwards of one-third of the work force. This sector is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and to external events affecting commodity prices.

In view of the EU's phase-out of preferred access of bananas to its markets, agricultural diversification is a priority. Dominica has made some progress, with the export of small quantities of citrus fruits and vegetables and the introduction of coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, and exotic fruits such as mangoes, guavas, and papayas. Dominica also has had some success in increasing its manufactured exports, with soap as the primary product. Dominica also recently entered the offshore financial services market.

Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, development of tourism has been slow compared with that on neighboring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica's high, rugged mountains, rain forests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in the capital. Eco-tourism also is a growing industry on the island.


Dominica is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency to all eight members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries.


Dominica is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). In 2001, exports totaled $47.4 million, with the U.S. receiving nearly 9% of these exports. Its imports totaled $100 million, 41% from the U.S. Dominica also is a member of the 14-member Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Like its Eastern Caribbean neighbors, the main priority of Dominica's foreign relations is economic development. The country maintains missions in Washington, New York, London, and Brussels and is represented jointly with other organization of Eastern Caribbean states (OECS) members in Canada. Dominica also is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the British Commonwealth. It became a member of the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1978 and of the World Bank and Organization of American States (OAS) in 1979. As a member of CARICOM, in July 1994 Dominica strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, designed to facilitate the departure of Haiti's de facto authorities from power. The country agreed to contribute personnel to the multinational force, which restored the democratically elected Government of Haiti in October 1994.


U.S.-DOMINICAN RELATIONS

The United States and Dominica have friendly bilateral relations. The United States supports the Dominican Government's efforts to expand its economic base and to provide a higher standard of living for its citizens. U.S. assistance is primarily channeled through multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and through the newly opened USAID satellite programs in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Peace Corps also provides technical assistance, which has about 20 volunteers in Dominica, working primarily in education, youth development, and health.


In addition, the United States and Dominica work together in the battle against illegal drugs. Dominica cooperates with U.S. agencies and participates in counternarcotics programs in an effort to curb narco-trafficking and marijuana cultivation. In 1995, the Dominican Government signed a maritime law enforcement agreement with the U.S. to strengthen counternarcotics coordination, and in 1996, the government signed mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties to enhance joint efforts in combating international crime.


Dominica had nearly 205,000 tourist visitors in 2002, with nearly 15,000 stay-over visitors from the U.S. Cruise ship passenger arrivals in 2002 totaled 136,859. It is estimated that 4,500 Americans reside in the country.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

The United States maintains no official presence in Dominica. The ambassador and embassy officers are resident in Barbados and frequently travel to Dominica.

Bridgetown, Barbados (E), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Bldg., Broad Street • P.O. Box 302 or FPO AA 34055, Tel (246) 436-4950, Fax 429-5246 and 429-3379, Telex 2259 USEMB BG1 WB, Marine Sec. Guard, Tel 436-8995; CON Fax 431-0179; AID Tel 228-8584, Fax 228-8589; PAO Fax 429-5316; MLO Fax 427-1668; LEGATT Fax 437-7772; NAS Fax 431-0262; DEA Fax 436-7524.

AMB: Earl N. Phillips, Jr.
AMB OMS: E. Lakita Carden
DCM: Marcia S. Bernicat
POL/ECO: Paul Belmont
ECO: Y. Viki Limaye
COM: Terry Sorgi (res. Santo Domingo)
CON: Robert Fretz
MGT: Leo Voytko
RSO: Daniel Becker
PAO: Kathleen L. Boyle
IRM: Charles O'Malley
AID: Ronald Stryker
DAO: LTC David Robles
MLO: CDR Christopher Sinnett
REA: David Alarid (res. San Jose)
AGR: Margie Bauer (res. Miami)
LAB: [Vacant]
LEGATT: Susan R. Chainer
IRS: Cheryl Kast (res. Mexico City)
FAA: Dawn Flanagan (res. Miami)
DEA: Hollis Williams


Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003


TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
June 24, 2003


Country Description: Dominica is an English-speaking, developing Caribbean island nation. The tourism industry is in the early stages of development; first-class tourist facilities are limited, but medium-range facilities are more widely available.


Entry and Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens must present original proof of U.S. citizenship (a valid or expired passport, a certified U.S. birth certificate, Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization), photo identification and a return or onward ticket. There is no fee for entering the country, but there is a departure tax. Children under twelve years of age are exempt from the departure tax. U.S. citizens entering with documents other than U.S. passports should take special care to secure those documents while travelling. It can be time-consuming and difficult to acquire new proof of citizenship to facilitate return travel should the original documents be lost or stolen.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


For further information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 3216 New Mexico Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016, telephone (202)364-6781, e-mail [email protected], or the Consulate General of Dominica in New York at (212)768-2480. Dominica's official web-site is http://www.ndcdominica.dm.


Crime: Petty street crime occurs in Dominica. Valuables left unattended, especially on beaches, are vulnerable to theft.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical care is limited. There are four hospitals in Dominica, only one of which performs general surgery, and several clinics. There is no hyperbaric chamber; divers requiring treatment for decompression illness must be evacuated from the island. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it lifesaving. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overse as health care provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Dominica is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:


Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: None


Vehicles are driven on the left in Dominica. Seatbelt laws are not strictly enforced. Roads are narrow with steep inclines throughout the island. There are few guardrails in areas that have precipitous drop-offs from the road. Road signs are limited outside of the major towns. Drivers should be alert for minibus (taxi) drivers, who often make sudden stops or pull out into traffic without warning or signaling.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Dominica driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Dominica national tourist organization offices in New York via telephone number (212) 949-1711, fax number (212) 949-1714, or e-mail [email protected]


Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Dominica's civil aviation authority as Category 2 –- not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Dominica's air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, the Dominica air carriers currently flying to the U.S. will be subject to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional flights or new service to the U.S. by Dominica's air carriers will be permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier from a country meeting international safety standards.


For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. In addition, DOD does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the U.S. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

Customs Regulations: Dominica customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Dominica of items such as business equipment, food and beverages, paints and varnishes, chemicals, and firearms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Dominica in Washington or Dominica's Consulate in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Dominica laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Dominica are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.


Consular Access: There is no U.S Embassy or Consulate in Dominica. The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados is responsible for American Citizens Services on the island of Dominica. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.


Disaster Preparedness: Like all Caribbean countries, Dominica can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: Americans living in or visiting Dominica are may wish to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados. Travelers may contact the Embassy to obtain updated information on travel and security ON Dominica. The U.S. Embassy is located in Bridgetown at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) Building on Broad Street, telephone (246)436-4950, website www.usembassy.state.gov/bridgetown. The Consular Section is located in the American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) Building, Cheapside, telephone (246)431-0225, fax (246)431-0179, website www.usembassy.state.gov/posts/bb1/wwhcons.html. The hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m and 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, except Barbadian and U.S. holidays.


International Parental Child Abduction
June 2003


The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, American Citizen Services. For more information, please read the Guarding Against International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov


Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of a specific foreign country is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.


General Information: The Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between Dominica and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Recommendations to be a signatory to the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction have been submitted to the Government for consideration. American citizens who travel to Dominica place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Dominica with dual national children should bear this in mind.


Custody Disputes: In Dominica if parents are legally married they share the custody of their children, in the sense that the children live with them and are taken care of by them in the matrimonial home. However, legal custody lies with the father. When parents are not married the custody of the child usually lies with the mother. Due to the death of the mother, mental problems, or a declaration made by the Court that the mother is unfit based on an application by the father, a father may apply to the court for custody of the child. Foreign court orders are not automatically recognized.


Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts may be enforced in Dominica once there has been compliance with The Commonwealth Judgments Reciprocal Enforcements Act, which provides for reciprocal enforcement in the state of judgments in Courts of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth Countries; or

The Foreign Judgments Reciprocal Enforcement Act, which provides for judgments given in foreign countries that accord reciprocal treatment to judgments given in Dominica.


Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has been granted custody of a child, the other parent is usually granted visitation rights. Under the Maintenance Act 15 of 2001, when a parent has been made to maintain a child under a Maintenance Order, a parent can apply to the court for access to the child at the time when the order is made or thereafter once the order is in force. The American Embassy in Bridgetown has reported few problems for non-custodial parents exercising their visitation rights. If a custodial parent fails to allow visitation, the non-custodial parent may appeal to the court.


Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program: Separate from the two-parent signature requirement for U.S. passport issuance, parents may also request that their children's names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system, also know as CPIAP. A parent or legal guardian can be notified by the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues before a passport is issued to his/her minor child. The parent, legal guardian or the court of competent jurisdiction must submit a written request for entry of a child's name into the Passport Issuance Alert program to the Office of Children's Issues. The CPIAP also provides denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with the Office of Children's Issues. Although this system can be used to alert a parent or court when an application for a U.S. passport has been executed on behalf of a minor, it cannot be used to track the use of a passport that has already been issued. If there is a possibility that your child has another nationality you may want to contact the appropriate embassy or consulate directly to inquire about the possibility of denial of that country's passport. There is no requirement that foreign embassies adhere to U.S. regulations regarding issuance and denial of passports. For more information contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-312-9700. General passport information is also available on the Office of Children's Issues home page on the internet at www.travel.state.gov/children's_ issues.html.

Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Dominican court should retain an attorney in Dominica. The U.S. Embassy in Barbados maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by requesting one from the Embassy at:


U.S. Embassy Bridgetown
Consular Section
ALICO Building, Cheapside
P O Box 302
Bridgetown
Barbados
Telephone: [246] 431-0225
Fax: [246] 431-0179
Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/bridgetown


*The Consular Section is open M-F (except U.S. and Barbados holidays) 8:30-11:30 and 1-2 PM


Questions involving Dominican law should be addressed to a Dominican attorney or to the Embassy of Dominica in the United States at:


Embassy of the Commonwealth of Dominica
3216 New Mexico Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
Telephone: (202) 364-6791

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Dominica

Dominica

POPULATION 70,158
ROMAN CATHOLIC 70.0 percent
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST 4.7 percent
PENTECOSTAL 4.3 percent
METHODIST 4.2 percent
BAPTIST 2.8 percent
ANGLICAN 0.7 percent
OTHER (INCLUDING BAHAI, MUSLIM, RASTAFARIAN) 13.3 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

The Commonwealth of Dominica, an island in the Caribbean, was known as Waitikubuli when first sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was renamed Dominica, or Dies Dominica (Day of the Lord), in thanksgiving to God.

Part of the Lesser Antilles, the island lies between Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south. It is mostly volcanic, mountainous, and densely covered with lush virgin rainforests. The topography of the island made colonization difficult for both the French and the British, who laid claim to the island and fought at various times for possession of it during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Finally, in 1783, after five years of French occupation, the British took permanent possession of Dominica as stipulated by the Treaty of Versailles. By then French influence already had a tremendous impact on Dominica's cultural development. From as early as the seventeenth century, the Caribs, the indigenous inhabitants, were exposed to French Catholic missionaries, who had come with the purpose of converting them. The French priests were also instrumental in converting the slaves to Catholicism.

In the eighteenth century Protestantism was introduced to Dominica, but it never took a firm hold there, as is evident by the small number of practitioners. Since the 1980s both Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism have lost ground to the Pentecostals, Baptists, and Seventh-day Adventists. Other groups include Muslims, Hindus, Bahais, Buddhists, Rastafarians, and folk religionists.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

Despite the heavily Roman Catholic influence, Dominica does not have an official state religion. Religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution. Prior to 1829 the British forbade Catholics to hold government jobs or have political representation, privileges reserved specifically for members of the Church of England and other Protestant sects. In 1829 the Roman Catholic Relief Act gave Roman Catholics the right to hold office and to obtain government jobs.

More recently the Rastafarian movement encountered fierce opposition from both the political and social establishments. The Prohibited and Unlawful Societies Act of 1974 was passed to contain the social and political activism of the Rastafarians and the offshoot Dreads. (Unlike the Rastafarians, who had Afrocentric beliefs, the Dreads had strong Christian beliefs and were considered to be dangerous.) By 1975 the government had declared a truce, appointed a committee that met with the Dreads, and made recommendations to ameliorate the social and economic conditions on the island.

Major Religion

ROMAN CATHOLICISM

DATE OF ORIGIN 1646 c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 49,100

HISTORY

From the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493, the Roman Catholic Church has played an important role in the development of Dominica. During the French colonization the Catholic Church became firmly entrenched as the dominant denomination. Beginning with Father Raymond Breton in 1646, French priests proselytized the indigenous inhabitants. Unlike the British, the French priests, under the Code Noir of 1688, baptized slaves, allowed participation in the Mass, and gave religious instruction. The Catholic Church was officially established in Dominica in 1730. In 1783, when the British captured Dominica from the French, the church and the French priests were discriminated against and refused political representation because of their relationship to France and the pope.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Catholic priests were the organizing forces in village life, developing schools and organizing social services throughout the island. By the mid-twentieth century, especially since the 1980s, church membership declined as more young people became attracted to other religious denominations.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

Father Raymond Breton of the Dominican Order and Brother Charles were the first missionaries to instruct the Caribs in Roman Catholic religious rites, and in 1646 they celebrated the first Mass among them. During the 1800s the church's expansion was driven mainly by the work of Bishop Charles Marie Poirier, who divided Dominica into 12 parishes, each with a parish priest, a church, and an elementary school.

Philip Schelfhaut, the fifth bishop of Roseau (from 1902 until his death in 1921), constructed many churches, including the Cathedral, and was responsible for establishing Saint Anthony's Society, an insurance organization that provided medical attention and paid burial expenses.

By the mid-twentieth century the Roman Catholic Church encouraged the ordination of local priests, leading eventually to the ascendancy of Bishop Bowers Lane and Archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix. Since 2001 Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig and, since 2002, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire head the church.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

In 1909 Bishop Philip Schelfhaut began the Dominican Chronicle, a newspaper still published today, although under different ownership. The bishop also published the Ecclesiastical Bulletin, a monthly journal that provided instruction for Catholics.

Father Raymond Proesmans, an archivist, is credited with contributing to the preservation of Dominican history. Father Clement Jolly wrote weekly articles on religious topics and two books relating to Christian life in Dominica.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

The main church, the Cathedral, is located in Roseau, but each parish or region has its own church.

WHAT IS SACRED?

Dominicans follow the established practices of the Roman Catholic Church and have no sacred relics peculiar to the island. Anthropologist Anthony Layng, who studies the Caribs, states that the sacraments are magical. In his study of Carib magic, Layng points out that some Carib tales or legends include the appearance of a white man who possesses magical power.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

The Roman Catholic Church in Dominica celebrates Fête de la Saint Pierre (Feast of Saint Peter) in all the fishing villages. The festival begins with a Mass, continues with a procession to the handsomely decorated boats, and ends with a lively village party. Dominicans also travel the length of the island to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and La Salette to commemorate the Virgin's appearance at Lourdes and La Salette in France.

MODE OF DRESS

The older Roman Catholic parishioners in Dominica attend church formally dressed. The older men often wear suits and ties, and the older women wear hats. Young people attend church in less formal attire.

DIETARY PRACTICES

Roman Catholics in Dominica do not have any strict dietary restrictions. During Lent, however, many of the older generation and the more devout abstain from eating meat.

RITUALS

The rituals of the Roman Catholic Church include prayers of novenas to the saints and Jesus. The church encourages its members to observe the Stations of the Cross during Lent, and confession of sins is heard daily. Death is celebrated for nine nights by offering prayers, singing hymns, drinking, dancing, and telling stories.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Roman Catholics in Dominica baptize their children during infancy, and first Communion is given around age seven, when children are believed to have reached the age of reason. The clergy confirms young adults into the faith between the ages of 12 and 14, signaling the transition from childhood to adolescence.

MEMBERSHIP

Despite losing some young members to other sects, the Roman Catholic Church in Dominica works hard to retain members and attract new ones. It reaches out to the community through The Voice of the Island, a radio program that provides information and religious instruction to Catholics. Each weekend the church sponsors other radio programs that deal with issues important to the religious community.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Roman Catholic Church has always been instrumental in the educational and social welfare of the island. It has established many charities and organizations to meet the needs of its congregation. The church also encourages its followers, especially the more affluent, to contribute time, money, and clothing to the less fortunate, including the indigenous Caribs. The church promotes human rights by encouraging its members to respect and protect the rights of others.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Although the church actively encourages marriage, there remain a large number of single-headed households. The church is also concerned with the preservation of the family and, working in conjunction with other Caribbean territories, issues guidelines regarding the duties and responsibilities of Catholics in maintaining the family structure.

POLITICAL IMPACT

The Roman Catholic Church has always played a role in the development of Dominica but does not encourage the clergy to get involved in island politics. During the 2000 election campaign the bishop issued orders to priests and lay associates to desist from participating in partisan politics. Nevertheless, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, along with other bishops of the eastern Caribbean, issued a statement of support and reaffirmed their commitment to the agenda of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, which was established to promote and enhance the overall development of the smaller Caribbean islands.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

The Roman Catholic Church in Dominica does not support abortion or the ordination of women to the priesthood. Dominicans have been receptive to the church's position on child abuse and violence against women. The church offers special retreats for fathers and sons to help them deal with their anger toward women and children. The church has been less successful in its efforts to get Dominicans to marry, even though priests preach about this issue during Sunday Mass.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Dominicans did not have much exposure to the arts and literature until recently. French priests and nuns introduced the traditional Christmas carols during the times of slavery (c. 1780–1834). The best-known Christmas carol, the "Cantique de Noel," sung after Midnight Mass at most homes, is no longer part of the tradition in Dominica. Religious songs and hymns are sung at wakes and during the parish fetes.

Other Religions

Anglicanism remains the religion of the small landowning British elite. Anglicans are presently part of the Church in the Province of the West Indies. Methodism first appeared on the island in the early nineteenth century and flourished in the northeastern Dominican villages of Wesley and Marigot. It is generally associated with the mixed-race, or mulatto, class, thereby separating this class from the poorer black and Carib classes.

The Pentecostals, Baptists, and Seventh-day Adventists arrived in Dominica early in the twentieth century but were initially unsuccessful because of opposition by the Catholic Church and, in the case of Pentecostals and Seventh-day Adventists, because of their religious practices. The latter two groups require practitioners to abstain from drinking alcohol, smoking, and having extramarital sex. Because they are not as strict or concerned with such behaviors, Baptists have been somewhat more successful, especially among the Caribs. Nonetheless, since the 1980s these religious sects have grown throughout the island, with many villages having at least one charismatic church built within their communities.

During the 1970s many young Dominicans were dissatisfied with the Catholic Church and, for inspiration and guidance, turned to Rastafarianism, a religious movement originally from Jamaica. Rastafarianism emphasizes Afrocentric beliefs and local traditions and encourages a return to the land.

Obeah, a form of sorcery introduced to Dominica by the slaves, is still practiced, even though it is illegal. It is difficult to determine how much influence obeah has had on Dominican worldview. Though obeah is reported to be on the decline, plant remedies, teas (tisanes), and baths are still used for protection against evil spells or for good luck by Dominicans. These are usually given during specific times of the year and are associated with certain phases of the moon.

Maritza Straughn-Williams

See Also Vol. 1: Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Seventh-day Adventist Church

Bibliography

Atwood, Thomas. The History of the Island of Dominica. London: Frank Cass and Co., 1971.

Barrett, David B., George T. Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson, eds. World Christian Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Cracknell, Basil E. Dominica. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1973.

Honychurch, Lennox. "A to Z of Dominica Heritage." A Virtual Dominica. 20 Feb. 2004. http://www.avirtualdominica.com/heritage.htm.

——. The Dominica Story: A History of the Island. Roseau: Dominica Institute, 1984.

——. Our Island Culture. Roseau: Dominica Cultural Council, 1982?

Layng, Anthony. "Religion in the Carib Reserve." Paper presented at the 77th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Los Angeles, November 1978.

Salter, Richard. "Dominica." In Religions of the World. Edited by Gordon J. Melton and Martin Baumann, 403–5. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2002.

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Dominica

DOMINICA

Compiled from the August 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Commonwealth of Dominica


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 754 sq. km. (290 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Roseau.

Terrain: Mountainous volcanic island with rainforest cover.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Dominican (Dom-i-nee-can).

Population: (2002 est.) 70,158.

Annual growth rate: 0.9%.

Ethnic groups: Mainly African descent, some Carib Indians.

Religions: Roman Catholic (80%), Anglican, other Protestant denominations.

Languages: English (official); a French patois is widely spoken.

Education: Years compulsory—to age 14. Literacy—94%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—15.94/1,000. Life expectancy—76 yrs.

Work force: (1997) (49,860) Agriculture—37%; services—30%; commerce—20%. Unemployment—exceeds 26% (ECCB estimate).

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy; republic within commonwealth.

Independence: November 3, 1978.

Constitution: November 1978.

Branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative—unicameral House of Assembly. Judicial—magistrate and jury courts, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court and Court of Appeals), Privy Council.

Administrative subdivisions: 10 parishes.

Political parties: Dominica Labor Party, Dominica Freedom Party (ruling coalition partners), and United Workers Party (opposition).

Suffrage: Universal adult.

Economy (2002)

GDP: $250 million.

GDP growth rate: −4.75 (2002 IMF estimate)

Per capita GDP: $3,424.

Natural resources: timber, water (hydropower), copper.

Agriculture: (17% of GDP) Products—bananas, citrus, coconuts, cocoa, herbal oils and extracts.

Manufacturing: (8.5% of GDP) Types—agricultural processing, soap and other coconut-based products, apparel.

Trade: Exports—$47.4 million: (2001) bananas, citrus fruits, soap, and cocoa. Major markets—European Union (EU), CARICOM, U.S. (16%). Imports—$100 million: (2001) machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, manufactured articles, cement. Major suppliers—OECS, CARICOM, U.S., Canada, EU, Japan.


PEOPLE

Almost all Dominicans are descendants of African slaves brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. Dominica is the only island in the eastern Caribbean to retain some of its pre-Columbian population—the Carib Indians—about 3,000 of whom live on the island's east coast. The population growth rate is very low, due primarily to emigration to more prosperous Caribbean Islands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

English is the official language; however, because of historic French domination, the most widely spoken dialect is a French patois. About 80% of the population is Catholic. In recent years, a number of Protestant churches have been established.


HISTORY

The island's indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Caribs in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493. Spanish ships frequently landed on Dominica during the 16th century, but fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged Spain's efforts at settlement.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained; rival expeditions of British and French foresters were harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.

Largely due to Dominica's position between Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a French settlement was established and grew. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years' War, the island became a British possession. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the French mounted a successful invasion with the active cooperation of the population, which was largely French. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, returned the island to Britain. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.

In 1763, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only the white population. In 1831, reflecting a liberalization of official British racial attitudes, the Brown Privilege Bill conferred political and social rights on free nonwhites. Three Blacks were elected to the legislative assembly the following year. Following the abolition of slavery, in 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature in the 19th century. Most Black legislators were smallholders or merchants who held economic and social views diametrically opposed to the interests of the small, wealthy English planter class. Reacting to a perceived threat, the planters lobbied for more direct British rule.

In 1865, after much agitation and tension, the colonial office replaced the elective assembly with one comprised of one-half elected members and one-half appointed. Planters allied with colonial administrators outmaneuvered the elected legislators on numerous occasions. In 1871, Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation. The power of the Black population progressively eroded. Crown Colony government was re-established in 1896. All political rights for the vast majority of the population were effectively curtailed. Development aid, offered as compensation for disenfranchisement, proved to have a negligible effect.

Following World War I, an upsurge of political consciousness throughout the Caribbean led to the formation of the Representative Government Association. Marshaling public frustration with the lack of a voice in the governing of Dominica, this group won one-third of the popularly elected seats of the legislative assembly in 1924 and one-half in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Dominica was transferred from the Leeward Island Administration and was governed as part of the Windwards until 1958, when it joined the short-lived West Indies Federation.

After the federation dissolved, Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom in 1967 and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. On November 3, 1978, the Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom.

Independence did little to solve problems stemming from centuries of economic underdevelopment, and in mid-1979, political discontent led to the formation of an interim government. It was replaced after the 1980 elections by a government led by the Dominica Freedom Party under Prime Minister Eugenia Charles, the Caribbean's first female prime minister.

Chronic economic problems were compounded by the severe impact of hurricanes in 1979 and in 1980. By the end of the 1980s, the economy had made a healthy recovery, which weakened in the 1990s due to a decrease in banana prices.

In January 2000 elections, the Edison James United Workers Party (UWP) was defeated by the Dominican Labor Party (DLP), led by Roosevelt P. "Rosie" Douglas. Douglas died after only a few months in office and was replaced by Pierre Charles, who died in office in January 2004. Roosevelt Skerrit, also of the DLP, replaced Charles as Prime Minister.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Dominica has a Westminster-style parliamentary government, and there are three political parties—the Dominica Labor Party (the majority party), the Dominica United Workers Party, and the Dominica Freedom Party. A president and prime minister make up the executive branch. Nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition party, the president is elected for a 5-year term by the parliament. The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the parliament and also appoints, on the prime minister's recommendation, members of the parliament from the ruling party as cabinet ministers. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed on a no-confidence vote.

The unicameral parliament, called the House of Assembly, is composed of 21 regional representatives and nine senators. The regional representatives are elected by universal suffrage and, in turn, decide whether senators are to be elected or appointed. If appointed, five are chosen by the president with the advice of the prime minister and four with the advice of the opposition leader. If elected, it is by vote of the regional representatives.

Elections for representatives and senators must be held at least every 5

years, although the prime minister can call elections any time. The last election was held in January 2000.

Dominica's legal system is based on English common law. There are three magistrate's courts, with appeals made to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and, ultimately, to the Privy Council in London.

Councils elected by universal suffrage govern most towns. Supported largely by property taxation, the councils are responsible for the regulation of markets and sanitation and the maintenance of secondary roads and other municipal amenities. The island is also divided into 10 parishes, whose governance is unrelated to the town governments.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 4/20/04

President: Liverpool , Nicholas J. O.
Prime Minister: Skerrit Roosevelt
Min. of Agriculture & the Environment: George , Ambrose
Min. of Communications, Works, & Housing: Austrie , Reginald
Min. of Community Development, Gender Affairs, & Information: Walters , Mathew
Min. of Education, Human Resources Development, Sports, & Youth Affairs: Henderson , Vince
Min. of Finance, Planning, & Caribbean Affairs: Skerrit , Roosevelt
Min. of Foreign Affairs, Trade, & Marketing: Riviere , Osborne
Min. of Health & Social Security: Sabroache , Herbert
Min. of Legal Affairs, Labor, & Immigration: Dyer , Henry
Min. of Tourism, Enterprise Development,& Establishment: Savarin , Charles
Attorney General: Dyer , Henry
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Gregoire , Crispin

Although the Dominican ambassador to the United States has customarily been resident in Dominica, the country maintains an embassy in the U.S. at 3216 New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016 (tel. 202-364-6781). Dominica also has a consulate general co-located with its UN mission in New York at Suite 900, 820 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel: 212-599-8478).


ECONOMY

Agriculture, with bananas as the principal crop, is still Dominica's economic mainstay. Banana production employs, directly or indirectly, upwards of one-third of the work force. This sector is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and to external events affecting commodity prices.

In view of the European Union's (EU) phase-out of preferred access of bananas to its markets, agricultural diversification is a priority. Dominica has made some progress, with the export of small quantities of citrus fruits and vegetables and the introduction of coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, and exotic fruits such as mangoes, guavas, and papayas. Dominica also has had some success in increasing its manufactured exports, with soap as the primary product. Dominica also recently entered the offshore financial services market.

Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, development of tourism has been slow compared with that on neighboring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica's high, rugged mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in the capital. Ecotourism also is a growing industry on the island.

Dominica is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency to all eight members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries.

Dominica is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). In 2001, exports totaled $47.4 million, with the U.S. receiving nearly 9% of these exports. Dominica's imports totaled $100 million, 41% from the U.S. Dominica also is a member of the 14-member Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Like its Eastern Caribbean neighbors, the main priority of Dominica's foreign relations is economic development. The country maintains missions in Washington, New York, London, and Brussels and is represented jointly with other Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) members in Canada. Dominica also is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the British Commonwealth. It became a member of the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1978 and of the World Bank and Organization of American States (OAS) in 1979.

As a member of CARICOM, in July 1994 Dominica strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, designed to facilitate the departure of Haiti's de facto authorities from power. The country agreed to contribute personnel to the multinational force, which restored the democratically elected Government of Haiti in October 1994.


U.S.-DOMINICAN RELATIONS

The United States and Dominica have friendly bilateral relations. The United States supports the Dominican Government's efforts to expand its economic base and to provide a higher standard of living for its citizens. U.S. assistance is primarily channeled through multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and through the newly opened U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) satellite programs in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Peace Corps also provides technical assistance, and has just over 30 volunteers in Dominica, working primarily in education, youth development, and health.

In addition, the United States and Dominica work together in the battle against illegal drugs. Dominica cooperates with U.S. agencies and participates in counternarcotics programs in an effort to curb narco-trafficking and marijuana cultivation.

In 1995, the Dominican Government signed a maritime law enforcement agreement with the U.S. to strengthen counternarcotics coordination, and in 1996, the government signed mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties to enhance joint efforts in combating international crime.

Dominica had nearly 205,000 tourist visitors in 2002, with nearly 15,000 stay-over visitors from the U.S. Cruise ship passenger arrivals in 2002 totaled 136,859. It is estimated that 4,500 Americans reside in the country.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BRIDGETOWN (E) Address: CIBC Building, Broad Street, Bridgetown; APO/FPO: APO AA 34055; Phone: 246-436-4950; Fax: 246-429-5246; Workweek: Mon–Fri: 8.00-4.30

AMB:Mary E. Kramer
AMB OMS:Bonita Estes
DCM:Mary Ellen T. Gilroy
DCM OMS:Joann M. Liner-Collins
CG:Robert L. Fretz
POL:Paul T. Belmont
COM:David Katz (res. Santo Domingo)
MGT:Leo F. Voytko
AFSA:Charles A. O'Malley
AID:Rebecca J. Rohrer
CLO:Georgetta M. Carroll
DAO:LtCol Bill Delehunt; Cdr Matt Crawley (both res. Caracas)
DEA:Hollis A. Williams
ECO:John M. Ashworth
EEO:Marilyn R. Gayton
FAA:Dawn Flanagan (res. Washington)
FMO:Vincent Wing
GSO:Alison Shorter-Lawrence
ICASS Chair:Peter Kilfoyle
IMO:Charles A. O'Malley
IRS:Cheryl Kast
LAB:Alfred Anzaldua
LEGATT:Susan R. Chainer
MLO:Peter Kilfoyle
NAS:Patricia Aguilera
PAO:Julie A. O'Reagan
RSO:Daniel C. Becker
Last Updated: 1/27/2005

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 1-800-USA-TRADE

Caribbean/Latin America Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464; Fax: 202-822-0075

Eastern Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 111
St. Michael, Barbados
Tel: 246-436-9493; Fax: 246-9494
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.ecamcham.org


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 8, 2004

Country Description: Dominica is an English-speaking developing Caribbean island nation. The tourism industry in is the early stages of development; first-class tourist facilities are limited, but medium-range facilities are widely available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. citizens must present a valid or expired passport, a certified U.S. birth certificate and photo identification, Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization, and a return or onward ticket. U.S. citizens should take special care to secure these documents while traveling as it can be time-consuming and difficult to acquire new proof of citizenship to facilitate return travel should the original documents be lost or stolen. There is a departure tax assessed when leaving Dominica. Children under twelve years of age are exempt from the departure tax. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Dominica and other countries.

For further information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of Dominica, 3216 New Mexico Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016, telephone (202) 364-6781, e-mail [email protected], or the Consulate General of Dominica in New York at (212) 768-2480. The Dominica Division of Tourism official website is www.ndcdominica.dm.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: Petty street crime occurs in Dominica. Valuables left unattended, especially on beaches, are vulnerable to theft.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.

Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/brochure_victim_assistance.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is limited. There are four hospitals in Dominica, only one of which performs general surgery, and several clinics. There is no hyperbaric chamber; divers requiring treatment for decompression illness must be evacuated to Guadeloupe. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Dominica is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Vehicles are driven on the left in Dominica. Seatbelt laws are not strictly enforced. Roads are narrow with steep inclines throughout the island. There are few guardrails in areas that have precipitous drop-offs from the road. Road signs are limited outside of the major towns. Drivers should be alert for minibus (taxi) drivers, who often make sudden stops or pull out into traffic without warning or signaling. For specific information concerning Dominica driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Dominica national tourist organization offices in New York via telephone number (212) 949-1711, fax number (212) 949-1714, or e-mail [email protected]

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Dominica as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Dominica's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Dominica. The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados is responsible for American Citizens Services on the island of Dominica. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. Like all Caribbean countries, Dominica can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Dominica's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Dominica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Dominica are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Dominica Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in the First Caribbean International Bank Building on Broad Street, telephone 1-246-436-4950, website http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov/. The Consular Section is located in the American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) Building, Cheapside, telephone 1-246-431-0225 or fax 1-246-431-0179, website http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov. Hours of operation are 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:00-2:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, except Barbados and U.S. holidays.

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Dominica

Dominica

Dominica is a mountainous island of volcanic origin in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, located midway between Puerto Rico to the north and Trinidad to the south. It is 754 square kilometers (291 square miles) in area and in 2004 had a population of approximately 69,400. The majority of its inhabitants are of African descent, with about 77 percent adhering to the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church and 15 percent to those of Protestant denominations.

After Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) landed on the island in 1493, its inhabitants, the Carib, managed to fend off rival colonial claims from the French and British but were eventually defeated and nearly decimated. France formally ceded Dominica to Great Britain in 1763. Despite several French attempts to reclaim the territory, it remained a British colony for another two centuries, with a limited representative government similar to those of older West Indian colonies.

In 1831, with the passage of the Brown Privilege Bill, free nonwhites were granted full political and civil rights. After the final abolition of slavery in 1838, Dominica immediately elected a nonwhite majority, a situation that lasted until 1898 when Crown Colony Rule was adopted under intense colonial pressure. In 1903 a reserve was officially established for the surviving Caribs. Continued agitation for representative government led to constitutional reforms in 1924 and 1936, which introduced through the electoral process a minority component into the legislature.

In 1951 a new constitution granted universal adult suffrage . In 1956 a ministerial system was introduced, giving unofficial members seats on the Executive Council and responsibility for government departments. In 1957 the first election involving a political party representing the masses took place. Franklin Andrew Merrifield Baron (b. 1923), who led a post-election majority coalition in the Council, became the island's first chief minister in 1960 when further constitutional changes went into effect. In 1967 Dominica was transformed into a fully self-governing state in association with Great Britain, which retained responsibility for external defense. In the 1970 general elections the number of constituencies increased from eleven to twenty-one. On July 12, 1978, the Dominica Assembly passed a resolution seeking to terminate its association with Britain. Later that month Dominica was granted independence. Like Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, two other former colonies, Dominica elected to become a republic , with a president as head of state and prime minister as head of government. The official name, the Commonwealth of Dominica, was chosen to distinguish the state from the larger Spanish-speaking country to the north, the Dominican Republic.

post–1945 major political events

Edward Oliver (E. O.) Leblanc (1923–2004) led the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), the country's first major party, to several victories after the 1957 election in which it won four seats in the House of Assembly. The DLP subsequently swept the 1958 federal elections that were held under the aegis of the short-lived West Indies Federation (1958–1962). Leblanc led popularly elected governments in 1961, 1966, and 1970 before resigning as prime minister in 1974 over mass protests against a proposed censorship law. The DLP won sixteen out of twenty-one seats in the 1975 elections under the leadership of Patrick Roland John (b. 1938), who took over from Leblanc and eventually led the island to independence.

John had already proved to be a controversial figure when he sponsored and oversaw passage of the draconian Dread Act of 1974, which drew widespread international condemnation. The act was directed against a loose association of dissident youth, mostly males, known as "dreads," due to their signature dreadlocks hairstyle. Persons whose mere appearance indicated membership in prohibited societies were subject to arrest without warrant and imprisonment without bail. The act exempted from civil or criminal liability any civilian injuring or killing a "dread" found inside a dwelling house and assumed to be trespassing. John ran into more serious trouble in 1979 after he was implicated in a series of shady behind-the-scenes deals. Opposition mounted to legislation he had proposed, and thousands of protestors swarmed the government headquarters on May 29. The island's Defence Force opened fire on the crowd, killing one man and critically injuring several others. A major political and constitutional crisis was thus provoked, with John rejecting calls to resign from a broad coalition, the Committee for National Salvation. When a number of cabinet members defected and the president fled the country, a new acting president was sworn in and an interim prime minister installed on June 21, thereby revoking John's appointment as prime minister. The government of Prime Minister Oliver Seraphin (b. 1946), an ex-cabinet member in the discredited John regime , lasted about a year, during which the country faced the devastation of a natural catastrophe, Hurricane David. On July 20, 1980, new elections occurred, bringing into power the twice-defeated conservative Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), with Mary Eugenia Charles (b. 1919) at its helm.

Charles, an attorney by training, became the Caribbean's first woman prime minister. She went on to win two more elections, finally retiring after her third term in office ended in June 1995. The DFP was replaced in power by a new party with broad social-democratic leanings, the United Workers' Party (UWP), under the leadership of Edison James (b. 1943). In 2000, the UWP was narrowly defeated by a reinvigorated DLP under the charismatic leadership of Roosevelt Bernard Douglas (1942–2002). The DLP formed an alliance with the greatly diminished DFP that had won two seats in the House of Assembly, to the DLP's ten and UWP's nine. Douglas died of a sudden heart attack after only eight months in office. He was succeeded by Pierre Charles (1954–2004), who suffered the same fate after serving for a little over three years as prime minister. On January 8, 2004, Charles was succeeded by Roosevelt Skerrit (b. 1972), who at thirty-two was the youngest-ever Caribbean prime minister.

nature of government

Dominica has a Westminster -style parliamentary government, and there are three political parties: the DLP (the majority party), the UWP, and the DFP. A president and prime minister make up the executive branch; however, the role of the president is largely ceremonial. Nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition party, the president is elected for a five-year term by the parliament. The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the majority party in the parliament and also appoints, on the prime minister's recommendation, members of the parliament from the ruling party as cabinet ministers. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed on the basis of a no-confidence vote.

The unicameral parliament, called the House of Assembly, is composed of twenty-one regional representatives and nine senators, with the speaker and one ex-officio member bringing the total to thirty-two. Regional representatives are elected by universal suffrage and, in turn, decide whether senators are to be elected or appointed. If appointed, the president chooses five of them on the advice of the prime minister and four on the advice of the opposition leader. If elected, senators are selected through the vote of regional representatives. Dominica's laws require that elections for representatives and senators occur at least every five years, although the prime minister can call for elections at any time.

Dominica's legal system is based on English common law, and the country enjoys an independent judiciary. There is a multilevel judicial system, including Lower or Magistrate's Courts and a High Court, with appeals made to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and, ultimately, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, which in 2005 was scheduled to be replaced by a regional Caribbean Court of Justice. The Dominica Police is the only security force, the Defence Force having been abolished by the Charles regime. It remains answerable to the democratically elected government, which alone determines its powers.

political life and human rights

The turbulent period of the 1970s and early 1980s, which included two foiled coup attempts, was an unusual one for Dominica. Its governments since the late twentieth century have, in general, respected the rights of their citizens. Serious political intimidation remained rare, and elections continued to be free and fair. All individuals—except those suffering from mental incompetence or having a criminal record—who are citizens of Dominica, are over eighteen years of age, and have resided in Dominica for at least twelve months prior to the voter registration deadline are qualified to vote. However, human rights abuses do exist in several areas: the use of excessive force by police, poor prison conditions, societal violence against women and children, discrimination against indigenous Caribs, and discrimination against female Caribs in mixed marriages.

See also: Caribbean Region.

bibliography

Andre, Irving W. and Gabriel J. Christian. In Search of Eden: The Travails of a Caribbean Mini State. Upper Marlboro, MD: Pond Casse Press, 1992.

Baker, Patrick L. Centring the Periphery: Chaos, Order and the Ethnohistory of Dominica. Jamaica: The Press—University of the West Indies, 1994.

Government of Dominica. Aspects of Dominican History. Roseau, Dominica: Government Printery, 1972.

Honychurch, Lennox. The Dominica Story. London: Macmillan Education, 1995.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Peasants and Capital: Dominica in the World Economy. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.

Cecilia A. Green

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