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Columbus spotted the island now known as Dominica on a Sunday so named the country
Dominica, the Latin word for Sunday.
Dominica is a very mountainous island and because of this there is very limited
space on which people can life. The people are limited to living along the coasts
where they have access to both the water as well as to some fertile lands and rivers
from the mountains.
The Caribs were the largest group of people to have settled the island of Dominica
prior to the arrival of the Europeans and, even after European arrival, the Caribs
maintained control over the island for a great number of years as they could easily
retreat into the mountains. While moving from the coasts to the mountains certainly
changed their culture and lifestyle to a great degree, they still managed to hold
on to many aspects of their culture during this time.
The flag of Dominica is very colorful;
the green represents the island's green vegetation, the yellow is symbolic of
the sunshine, citrus, bananas, and the Carib people, black represents the rich soils
and the ethnic African people, white symbolizes the waters on the island as well
as the purity of aspirations, and the red stands for social justice. On this background
is a large disk with a Sisserou Parrot, which can only be found in Dominica. Around
the parrot are ten stars, which represent the ten parishes (or administrative districts)
of the island.
Name: Commonwealth of Dominica
Independence: November 3, 1978
Currency: East Caribbean Dollar
Population: 73,286 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: African & others
Religion: Catholic & Protestant
Eventually the isolation of the Caribs ended as both the French and British settled
the island. With this settlement the Caribs were enslaved or retreated further into
the mountains. This destroyed much of the remaining culture and lifestyle of the
Caribs as British and French influences took over. These two European groups altered
the culture forever and even today both English and French Patois are commonly spoken.
Additionally, just over half the people are Catholic, a result from French influence,
and many of the others are Protestant, partially a result of British influence.
Despite the changes and introductions, the greatest influence the French and British
made to this island, other than destroying the Carib people, was with populating
the island with African slaves. Slaves from Africa were brought in to work the lands,
introducing a new culture, but also changing the ethnic makeup of the people as
after only a short time the ethnic African dominated the island's population.
Even today the majority of the population in Dominica is of African descent or a
mix of African and Carib descent. These people run the country in every way today
and the culture and way of life on the island is slowly finding a more solid identity.
The culture has been heavily influenced by these people, but the lifestyle remains
similar to how it was in the past as many people continue to live along the coasts
as agriculture is still the dominant industry. Magnifying this lifestyle even more,
there are no true cities as this agricultural-based economy has led to a fairly
rural population who continues to live off the land even today.
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