in his expedition to the Caribbean, Cristoffer Columbus
arrived on November 3, 1493, on an island he named Dominica
and where he planted a cross to mark the island's
incorporation into the Spanish kingdom.
In a short time, the original population was
exterminated; a story that was repeated on other Caribbean
islands. According to reliable sources, in 1632, only 1,000
had been able to survive. Today, the 500 descendants of
these live in reserves.
The island's forests were cleared to provide space for
sugar plantations, employing thousands of African slaves as
labor. In the 17th century, the Spaniards were followed by
the French who introduced coffee and cotton cultivation. For
more than two centuries England and France fought for the
right to the island, and in 1805 Dominica became English
However, the French influence has stayed up to our times;
as proof of this, one can point to the position of the
Catholic Church, and the "créole", the local dialect which
is a mixture of French and African languages.
After 500 years of colonial rule over Dominica, the
country inherited an economy, based on the revenue from
agricultural monoculture. Bananas are the only export item
of importance and banana plantations, after sugar
cultivation have proved unprofitable, cover most of the
total agricultural area.
Until 1939, the British considered Dominica to be part of
the Sotavento Islands, along with Barbuda, the Virgin
Islands and Montserrat. In 1940, the British incorporated
Dominica into the so-called Barlovent Islands, along with
the Lesser Antilles: Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.
Dominica remained associated with these islands until 1958.
During the period 1959-1962, Dominica was a member of the
British-West Indies Federation, a failed political project
in which the individual countries negotiated extended
independence agreements with the English.
In the election to the legislative assembly in January
1961, the ruling party, Dominica's United People's Party,
was defeated by Dominica's Labor Party, DLP, comprising The
popular National Movement. Edward LeBlanc became new head of
The political model introduced when the island gained
independence in 1967 is largely part of the legacy of the
English. The Constitution from this year talked about a
"free agreement" between the UK and the West Antilles member
states. Britain reserved the right to define defense and
foreign policy and each island elected their own government
in a federal system whose headquarters were in Barbados. The
Legislative Assembly was replaced by a National Assembly,
the Administrator replaced by a Governor and the Head of
Government by a Prime Minister.