OFFICIAL NAME: Commonwealth of Dominica
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 751 Sq Km (290 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 79,800
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Dominica is an island located at
the northern end of the windward chain of the Lesser Antilles
in the Caribbean Sea. It is situated between the French
island groups of Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique
to the south. The island is almost rectangular in shape
and has a deeply indented coast line. It is of volcanic
origin with many fumaroles and sulfur springs. The interior
of the island is dominated by a series of high peaks and
deeply incised valleys which are carpeted by deep forest.
The Clyde, Pagua, Rosalie, Roseau and the Layou Rivers flow
from the central ridge of mountain peaks to the coast. Major
Cities (pop. est.); Roseau 15,900, Portsmouth 3,600, Marigot
2,900 (1991). Land Use; forested 67%, pastures 3%, agricultural-cultivated
23%, other 7% (1993).
CLIMATE: Dominica has a tropical climate with extreme humidity
and temperatures which are constantly tempered by sea breezes. There is
a vast dry season on the west side of the island and a hurricane season
between July and September while the wet season is usually between June
and October. Average annual precipitation varies from 1,750 mm (69 inches)
on the coast to 6,250 mm (246 inches) in the central mountainous area.
The average temperature ranges are from 20 to 29 degrees Celsius (64 to
84 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 23 to 32 degrees Celsius (73 to 90
degrees Fahrenheit) in June.
PEOPLE: Most of the population are descendants of the Black African
slaves which were imported as plantation slaves during the 17th and 18th
centuries. Black Africans account for 91% of the population and other ethnic
minorities include the Mulattoes who are of mixed African and European
descent and account for 6%. Additionally, there are also a small number
Carib AmerIndians who number around 500.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 111 persons per sq km
(288 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; N/A. Sex Distribution; 46.4%
male, 53.6% female (1989). Life Expectancy at Birth; 73.0 years male, 78.0
years female (1989). Age Breakdown; 35% under 15, 28% 15 to 29, 15% 30
to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 12% 60 and over (1989). Birth Rate; 19.9 per 1,000
(1990). Death Rate; 7.4 per 1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 12.5 per 1,000
(1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 18.4 per 1,000 live births (1990).
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with nearly 80% of the population
Roman Catholic. The remainder are made up of the Anglican and Methodist
LANGUAGES: The official language is English, although a French
Patois is widely spoken by most of the people.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
6.6%, primary 80.6%, secondary 11.1%, higher 1.7% (1981). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 94% (1986).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Dominica gained independence in
1978 after being ruled by Britain since the 1700's. Universal adult suffrage
was introduced in 1951 and Britain gradually increased Dominica's control
over its own affairs, resulting in the island gaining full internal autonomy
in 1967 as an associate state. Dominica gained full independence on Nov.
3, 1978 led by Patrick John. In 1979 a major hurricane struck Dominica
and killed over 50 people as well as causing widespread property damage.
In the same year controversial measures introduced by John's government
culminated in his and his cabinets resignation. An interim government was
installed until elections in July 1980 which were won by Dame Eugenia Charles.
In 1981 there were two coup attempts led by John who was eventually tried
and sentenced. In 1983 Dominica and several other Caribbean nations joined
the United States in an invasion of Grenada to overthrow the Marxist government
there. In 1985 Charles retained power after the elections. In Apr. 1991
the government narrowly survived a vote of no confidence that was introduced
by the Dominica United Workers' Party (DUWP). In 1991 construction began
on the island's first international airport to be based at Woodford Hill
in the north of the island with US military help. Also during 1991 there
were significant increases in tourist arrivals while the government actively
encouraged the construction of small hotels through investment incentives.
In 1992 the government faced opposition on the issue of whether it should
"sell" citizenship to Taiwanese or Hong Kong businessmen for
investments of US $35,000. In Apr. 1992 the DLP opposition leader for seven
years, Michael Douglas, died of cancer. In May 1992 the DUWP led demonstrations
that forced the government to announce adjustments to the policy in Sept.
1992 that required an the deposit of additional US $25,000 in a special
fund and that the investment be maintained for at least 10 years. In May
1993, Prime Minister Charles reaffirmed the DFP's policy of selling state
enterprises in the face of opposition. By April 1993 some 466 people, mostly
Taiwanese, had become Dominican citizens under the controversial immigration
policy which had contributed an estimated $5.8 million to the economy.
In Aug. 1993 the external affairs minister, Brian Alleyne, was elected
as the new DFP leader to take over from Prime Minister Charles when she
retired prior to the planned 1995 elections.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar
(ECD) divided into 100 Cents.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $193,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $85,500,000 (1993). Imports; ECD $299,200,000 (1992). Exports;
ECD $151,400,000 (1992). Tourism Receipts; USD $34,800,000 (1994). Balance
of Trade; ECD -$131,200,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 26,364
or 38.0% of total population (1991). Unemployed; 23.0% (1994).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the UK,
the USA, other EU countries and other CARICOM countries.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cattle, Cocoa, Coconuts, Citrus
Fruit, Pigs, Pumice, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cigars, Essential Oils, Food Processing,
Soap Manufacture, Tourism.
MAIN EXPORTS: Bananas, Cocoa, Copra, Citrus Fruits, Essential Oils,
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 756 km (470 mi) (1988).
Vehicles; cars 2,500 (1989), trucks and buses 1,500 (1989). Merchant Marine;
vessels 8 (1990), deadweight tonnage 3,631 (1990). Air Transport; N/A.
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; nil. Weekly Newspapers; total
of 2 with a total circulation of 5,050 (1991). Radio; receivers 45,000
(1994). Television; receivers 5,200 (1994). Telephones; units 15,791 (1994).