Within a cluster of beautiful islands, including Guadeloupe and Martinque, Dominica stands out as the ‘Nature Isle of the Caribbean’, well known for its incredible natural environment and landmarks. The country is mostly encompassed by rainforests and volcanic peaks.
The capital, Roseau, is located on the western side of the island. It is geographically situated as part of the Windward Islands chain in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The island was settled by the Arawak arriving from South America in the 5th century. The Kalinago displaced the Arawak by the 15th century.
The British and French both colonised Dominica, but the island gained independence as a republic in 1978. Unlike other former British colonies in the region, Dominica was never a Commonwealth realm, instead becoming a republic on independence.
Dominica has a strong creole culture and is largely influenced by the Africans who were brought over during the slave trade, the colonial British and French culture,s and the Caribs. Dominica's creole culture influenced the language, cuisine, music, fashion and much more.
Music and Dance
Music and dance are important facets of Dominica's culture. The annual independence celebrations display a variety of traditional song and dance. Since 1997, there have also been weeks of Creole festivals, such as "Creole in the Park" and the "World Creole Music Festival". The music of Dominica is rich, diverse and creative. The most embraced musical genres in Dominica are folk, calypso, reggae, soca, kompa and zouk. Local music artists from Dominica include The Wizzard, Nasio Fontaine, Lord Shorty, and WCK, originally known as Windward Caribbean Kulture.
Dominica gained prominence on the international music stage when in 1973, Gordon Henderson founded the group Exile One and an original musical genre, which he coined "Cadence-lypso". This paved the way for modern Creole music. Other musical genres include "Jing ping" and "Cadence". Jing ping features the accordion and is native to the island
Dominican creole culture is also showcased through traditional clothing, called Jupe. This consists of a white cotton top and a floor-length skirt with a brightly coloured pattern cloth hanging over it. A coloured or white cloth is usually wrapped around the head to resemble a bonnet. The pattern cloth is called 'Madras' and is used for many other pieces of clothing and homeware items.
Language of Dominica
English is the official language of Dominica and is universally spoken and understood. In addition, Dominican Creole is also widely spoken, because of a decline in the use of Creole by the younger generation, initiatives have been set up in an effort to increase usage and promote this unique part of the nation's history and culture.
The staples of Dominican cuisine include vegetables like dasheen, tannia, yams, fresh greens such as spinach and callalou. The tropical fruits found on the island feature heavily in the Dominina menu, they include bananas, breadfruits, avocados, guavas, coconuts, oranges, grapefruits, limes and tangerines. People from Dominica also plant a variety of fresh herbs and spices like parsley, celery, chive, cinnamon, thyme, nutmeg and cloves. Fish is key part of the diet, such as Dorado, kingfish and Snapper. In the mountainous areas there are crayfishes, land crabs and crapaud frog also called mountain Chicken.
The lush landscape, forests, hills and volcanoes make the ground very fertile. The largest of the volcanoes are Morne aux Diables, Morne Diablotins, Morne Trois Pitons and Morne Anglais. Most of these volcanoes are dormant and have not erupted for many years. Morne Trois Pitons has a large national park named after it called the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which was established in 1975. In 1997, the National Park became a World Heritage Site. This park hosts many features that prove Dominica to be the ‘Nature Isle’ as it is aptly named.
The imperial amazon (Amazona imperialis) or Dominican amazon, also known as the sisserou, is a parrot found only on the Caribbean island of Dominica. The parrot is featured on the Dominica Flag and has been designated as the national bird of Dominica. The species is critically endangered. In 2019, it was estimated there were only about 50 mature individuals left in the wild.
If you love Dominica and the amazing culture of the island, take a look at our Dominicia Collection for a range of items inspired by Dominica.