Dominica is a verdant jewel in a sea of jewels, and it proves that every Caribbean country is unique. It is home to some of the most spectacular mountains in the world. It is the last stronghold of the native Kalinago people. It is also one of the most special ecotourism destinations in the region, with a trail that runs the length of the island, and includes attractions of both sea and peaks. That being said, this is a small economy, and one threatened by mass tourism, rising sea levels and the increasing intensity of Caribbean storms. Be sure to travel responsibly in Dominica so that your travels can support its residents; respecting and loving Dominica means sharing your resources with the people that call it home in ways that help not hurt their communities.
Type: Sovereign Nation (1978)
Official Language: English
Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (XCD)
Electricity: UK Style Outlets with 220 or 240 volts at 50 cycles
Cultures: Dominican, Kalinago (10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Culture of Dominica)
Highpoint: Morne Diablotin (Not attempted)
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Morne Trois National Park
National Parks: Cabrits, Morne Diablotin, Morne Trois Pitons
Dominica is known for its mountainous terrain and its beautiful forests. It’s the tropical paradise that I had always envisioned the Caribbean being, but after exploring the Caribbean more in recent years, I’d almost say it’s the Hawaii of the region. Not because of the crowds (there really aren’t any), but because of the out-of-this-world landscapes. If you’ve been to Hawaii but not Dominica, you have an idea of what this beautiful island looks like (at least from a distance).
The tall mountains create storm systems that feed lush forests, and while there are more arid forests as you find else where on islands due to rain shadows, the tropical nature of the island is far more widespread. Dominica is also a volcanic island, and the volcanic activity is ongoing. That’s where the famous Boiling Lake comes from, unsurprisingly, as well as the many hot springs of the island.
If you are a hiker, Dominica is should 100% be on your bucketlist. Besides all of the amazing day trails that explore its wilds, they also have a 114 mile cross-island trail called the Waitukubuli National Trail. For those who aren’t looking for a long backpacking trip, Morne Trois Pitons National Park is full of amazing day hikes and even places for non-hikers to explore.
Our Posts on Nature in Dominica
Everything You Need to Know About Morne Trois Pitons National Park will walk you through some of the best areas of the park, both accessible by car and on-foot only. This includes our experience trekking out to the Boiling Lake.
Cabrits and the Road to Scott’s Head is as much about culture as nature, but this is the guide to the southwestern coast of Dominica from Champagne Beach to Scott’s Head.
Other Posts on Nature in Dominica
Learn more about the trans-island Waitukubuli Trail from the official site..
UNESCO World Heritage’s coverage of Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
History and Culture
For outsiders, Dominica might not seem like key location for North American history, but it is. The island has long been home to indigenous peoples, first the Ortoroid people who are said to have arrived on the island in 3100 BC. Then the Arawak people settled in the verdant island, until the arrival of the Carib or Kalinago people. The Carib people, who were culturally more aggressive than the Arawak, and in many parts of the Caribbean, the Caribs replaced the Arawak.
Eventually, of course, Columbus arrived in the Caribbean region, “discovering” the new world. In short order, Europeans came, and began enslaving and killing the indigenous people. Dominica, due to its rugged terrain, became a sanctuary and natural fortress for the Kalinago people, who defended their island from Spanish colonizers. When the British and French began fighting over the island, however, the Kalinago eventually began to lose ground to the endless attacks and European diseases. During this time of colonization, African people were brought to Dominica as slaves, as happened throughout North and South America. Dominica was then fought over by both the French, who initially gained control of the island, and the British, who then held the territory until Dominica gained its independence in 1978.
In short, Dominica, with its mountains and human-built fortresses, has seen many waves of human culture and conflict. The indigenous, African, French, and British place names remain a reminder of the hundreds of years of struggle for this island, and Dominica is one of the few places in the Caribbean where indigenous people still hold land. Now, its people are fighting new battles against the horrible impacts of climate change and the sometimes unfortunate impacts of mass tourism. In this way, it continues to be a place where the many forces of history come into play, and its people continue to uphold the strong legacy that began with its first, adventurous inhabitants.
Our Posts on History and Culture in Dominica
We cover Exploring the City of Roseau, which is the capital of Dominica and the center of modern Dominican culture. Roseau is also where you can explore the national museum and monuments to the country’s vibrant history.
Cabrits National Park is a restored fort on the north side of Dominica, thus it is a great place to learn about the colonial history of the island.
Other Posts on the History and Culture of Dominica
Discover Dominica’s article on the history and culture of the island.
Where We’ve Been
Travel Advisory and Visa Information
From the Government of Canada
From the US Department of State
More Posts on Dominica
If you want to know more about Dominica and what to do there, check out our Pinterest board on Discovering Dominica.
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