Dominica Island Profile
The Commonwealth of Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-ee-ka) is located in the Eastern Caribbean, north of Martinique and south of Guadeloupe, 375 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It lies between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
Dominica is 29 miles long and 16 miles wide; the total land area nearly 290 square miles. It has the highest mountains in the Eastern Caribbean, the loftiest peak, Morne Diablotin, is 4,747 feet high.
Dominica’s population is approximately 71,000.
English is the official language; A French-based Creole (kwéyòl) is widely spoken, especially in outlying villages.
Due to Dominica’s topography and vegetation, the temperatures can vary widely depending on location. On the coast high temperatures range from 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (29 to 32 degrees Celsius), while the lows range from 68 to 72 F (20 to 22 C). The mountains tend to be cooler and wetter. Rainfall patterns vary and are dependent on location as well. Rainfall in the interior, in the rainforests, can be as high as 300 inches per year with the wettest months being July to November and the driest being February to May. In-land rainfall is more moderate with February to June being the driest months.
Dominica has demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. This dedication to conserve and respect the natural surroundings has helped maintain the incredible beauty of the Island. Over the past fifty years Dominica has preserved more national forests, marine reserves, and national parks, per capita, than almost anywhere on earth. It was the first country to receive benchmark designation from Green Globe 21 in October 2004 and has maintained that status for three consecutive years.
Dominica has two airports: Melville Hall and Canefield. Melville Hall is located in the northeast, 32 miles from Roseau, the capital city; Canefield Airport is located in the southwest, 3 miles from Roseau. Flights from the U.S. with connections on international and local carriers are readily available via Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Antigua, Barbados, Guadeloupe and Martinique. Dominica is served by American Airlines/American Eagle, Liat and Carib Aviation.
At the time of Columbus’ visit in November 1493, the Island was a stronghold of the Caribs, the Island’s first inhabitants, who upon settling it in the 14th century called the Island Waitukubuli, which means “tall is her body.” In 1627 the English took theoretical possession of the Island without settling it, but by 1632 the Island had become a de facto French colony.
In 1660 while the English and French agreed to leave the Caribs in undisturbed possession of Dominica, the French settlers continued to arrive. Throughout the 18th century, Dominica was caught up in the French and British skirmishes that marked the era, changing hands between the two several times. In 1763 the French ceded the Island to the British, although the French tried to recapture it in 1795 and again in 1805, before eventually withdrawing, leaving the English in possession.
After 1805 Dominica remained firmly in the possession of the British. In 1833 the Island was linked to Antigua and the other Leeward Islands, but subsequently in 1939 became part of the Federation of the Leeward Islands Group. Dominica joined the West Indies Federation in 1958 but in 1967 gained control over its internal affairs as a West Indies Associated State. On November 3, 1978, on the 485th anniversary of Columbus’ ‘discovery,’ Dominica became an independent republic within the Commonwealth.
Dominica is an island of rugged mountains, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and dynamic rivers. Sites include Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a national park in the southern half of the Island, encompassing 17,000 acres of Dominica’s mountainous volcanic interior, and the only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean. It contains many of the Island’s top wilderness sites including rainforests, Emerald Pool, Boiling Lake, the second largest lake of its kind in the world. The Northern Forest Reserve, an extensive area of land in the interior of the Island, includes the 4,747-foot Morne Diablotin, the Island’s highest peak as well as the highest in the Eastern Caribbean. It is also the main habitat of Dominica’s two endangered parrot species.
Dominica was an ideal filming location for “Pirate’s of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Pirate’s of the Caribbean: World’s End” due to its natural heritage, unspoiled scenic beauty, people and culture.
Additional attractions include the Island’s 4,600-foot long Rainforest Aerial Tram which offers a breathtaking and scenic seventy (70) minute journey over the dense rainforest; Fort Shirley, is an English colonial fort nestled among the ruins found at the 800 acre Cabrits National an historic area; Carib Territory, the 3,782 acre reservation where the descendants of the Caribs live in eight villages; the Roseau Museum highlights the Island’s cultural and natural history.
Of volcanic origin with mountains reaching heights of nearly 5,000 feet, rainforests that are considered among the last true island-based rainforests in the world, more than 365 crisscrossing rivers, waterfalls, boiling lakes, and pristine coral reefs, Dominica is well suited for eco-adventurers. Its unique topography of rolling hills, lush rainforests and mountains make Dominica ideal for mountain biking, hiking/trekking, scuba diving, snorkeling, bird watching, whale and dolphin watching, kayaking, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, touring, walking and more.
Dominica has excellent hiking and much of the island’s rainforests, rivers and waterfalls are within easy reach. Hikes, which range in skill level from easy to very challenging, include Boiling Lake, Middleham Falls, the highest waterfall on the Island and Morne Diablotin, which is located in the Northern Forest Reserve.
Considered to be one of the top dive destinations in the world, Dominica offers one of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean with vertical walls, volcanic craters, lava pinnacles and shallow reefs teeming with marine life. The majority of Dominica’s 40+ dive sites are located close to shore and can be found in three locations – the southwest, central west and northwest coasts. Located at the southwest tip of the Island is the Scott’s Head- Soufriere Marine Reserve (SSMR), which includes dive sites like Scott’s Head Pinnacle, Champagne (an underwater hot spring), Crater’s Edge, L’Abym, Condo, Suburbs, Village and Dangleben’s Pinnacles. Other notable dive sites are Rodney’s Rock and Toucari Bay.
A number of full service dive operators offer equipment and excursions for divers of all skill levels. Underwater visibility ranges up to 100 feet.
To date more than 176 bird species have been recorded in Dominica, including two endemic and endangered parrot species – Dominica’s national bird, the Sisserou, also called the Imperial Parrot, and the Jacquot, or Red–necked parrot.
Cruise lines including Carnival, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise and Princess visit the island regularly docking at either the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth in the capital city, Woodbridge Bay Port, a five minute drive north of the capital, or Cabrits Cruise Ship Berth located in the north of the Island. For the 2004/2005 season, Dominica welcomed over 300,000 passengers.
Dominica has a wide array of accommodation to suit different budgets from eco-resorts and villas and beachfront hotels, to charming small inns and simple guesthouses.
The independent nation within the British Commonwealth, Dominica is a Republic.
The Dominica economy is based largely on agriculture (primarily bananas and coconuts), tourism, shoes and furniture.
The currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar: EC2.67 = USD$1.00 U.S. dollars are widely accepted by shops, restaurants and taxi drivers. Most hotels, car rental agencies, dive shops, tour operators and restaurants accept MasterCard, Visa and American Express cards.
Handmade crafts using woods like bamboo, calabash and fwije (tree fern), local art, and duty-free bargains can be found. Shops and offices are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Banking hours are Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Friday until 4:00 p.m.).
Public Transport is readily available in the form of local buses. Buses run regularly along coastal routes between Roseau and both Scott’s Head and Portsmouth. Fares are set by the government. Taxis are also readily available (look for license plates that begin with H). Fares are not set so negotiate before departing (Fares are set from the airports to Roseau)
Driving is on the left side of the road. For a small fee (USD$ 12.00) drivers can get the required local driver’s license from immigration at the airports. Car rental companies include Budget and a number of local agencies. Primary roads are well paved and clearly marked with signs.
Dominica has a modern and fully reliable digital telecommunication system. The area code for Dominica is 767. Phone services are available at various points throughout the Island. Prepaid cards can be purchased at Cable & Wireless, Marpin Telecoms, and agents throughout the Island. Digicel provides cellular telecommunications for the island.
A valid passport and onward/return ticket are required for stays of up to 21 days. U.S. and Canadian citizens may enter using proof of citizenship such as a photo ID and an official birth certificate.
Beginning January 23, 2007 The U.S. State Department and the Department Homeland Security will require that all U.S. citizens and foreign nationals carry a passport or other accepted secure documents to enter or re-enter the U.S. from the Caribbean, including Dominica.
Central Standard Time
Water is safe to drink.
220/240 volts, 50 cycles. Adaptors may be necessary in some cases.
Dial 999 for Police, Fire and Ambulance.
National Development Corporation
P.O Box 293, Roseau
Commonwealth Of Dominica
Phone: (767) 448-2045
Fax: (767) 448-5840
For more on Dominica at ITKT