Dominica has a somewhat complicated and convoluted history which is reflected in the fact that although English is the official language, the Creole language spoken is French, not English. Complicating this is the presence of the Caribs – Amerindians who live in a reserve named the “Carib Territory”, but who have intermarried with peoples of African descent. Hence, the Caribs in Dominica are often referred to as the “Black Caribs”. The following is a very brief explanation of Dominica’s history. For more information check out the timeline of Dominica’s history or visit Dominica’s official website.
Located in the Eastern Caribbean between Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south, Dominica was originally home to the Igneri tribes from Orinoco (approx.. 3000 BC); then became home to the Kalinagos (Island Caribs) around 1000 AD and until 1493 when Christopher Columbus “discovered” the island on his second voyage in 1493.
By 1627 the English had claimed many of the islands in the Eastern Caribbean, and like Barbados, the Earl of Carlisle was named Proprietor (owner) of Dominica. Eventually, the British ceded Dominica to the French in the 1748 Treaty of Aix-La Chapelle, and then regained the island in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, along with Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, and Tobago. Over the next 100 years, Dominica was passed back and forth between the French and the English before becoming permanently part of the British Commonwealth. Eventually, the island received full independence in 1978.