Dominica

Commonwealth of Dominica

President: Charles Savarin (2013)

Prime Minister: Roosevelt Skerrit (2004)

Total area: 290 sq mi (751 sq km)

Population (2012 est.): 73,126 (growth rate: 0.22%); birth rate: n.a.; infant mortality rate: 12.38/1000; life expectancy: 76.18; density per sq km: 96

Capital and largest city (2009 est.): Roseau, 14,000

Monetary unit: East Caribbean dollar

Current government officials

Languages: English (official) and French patois

Ethnicity/race: black, mixed black and European, European, Syrian, Carib Amerindian

National Holiday: Independence Day, November 3

Religions: Roman Catholic 77%, Protestant 15% (Methodist 5%, Pentecostal 3%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3%, Baptist 2%, other 2%), none 2%

Literacy rate: 94% (2011 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $1.02 billion; per capita $13,600. Real growth rate: 0.9%. Inflation: 3.5% (2012 est.). Unemployment: 23% (2011 est.). Arable land: 7%. Labor force: 25,000 (2011 est); agriculture 40%, industry and commerce 32%, services 28%. Agriculture: bananas, citrus, mangoes, root crops, coconuts, cocoa; forest and fishery potential not exploited. Industries: soap, coconut oil, tourism, copra, furniture, cement blocks, shoes. Natural resources: timber, hydropower, arable land. Exports: $47.8 million f.o.b. (2011 est.): bananas, soap, bay oil, vegetables, grapefruit, oranges. Imports: $207.1 million f.o.b. (2011 est.): manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, food, chemicals. Major trading partners: UK, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Japan, Trinidad and Tobago, U.S., China, South Korea (2004).

Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 15,500 (2011); mobile cellular: 98,100 (2011). Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 4, shortwave 0 (2004). Television broadcast stations: 1 (2004). Internet hosts: 722 (2011). Internet users: 28,000 (2011).

Transportation: Railways: 0 km. Highways: total: 780 km; paved: 393 km; unpaved: 393 km (2012 est.). Ports and harbors: Portsmouth, Roseau. Airports: 2 (2011 est.).

International disputes: joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under UNCLOS, which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the Caribbean Sea.

Major sources and definitions

Flag of Dominica

Geography

Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-EEK-a) is a mountainous island of volcanic origin of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, south of Guadeloupe and north of Martinique.

Government

Parliamentary democracy.

History

Explored by Columbus in 1493, Dominica was claimed by Britain and France until 1763, when it was formally ceded to Britain. Along with other Windward Isles, it became a self-governing member of the West Indies Associated States in free association with Britain in 1967.

Dissatisfaction with the slow pace of reconstruction after Hurricane David devastated the island in Sept. 1979 brought a landslide victory to Mary Eugenia Charles of the Freedom Party in July 1980. The Freedom Party won again in 1985 and 1990. The opposition United Workers' Party won in June 1995. In 1997, Dominica became the first Caribbean country to participate in the work of Green Globe, aiming to make Dominica a model ecotourism destination. Although the island is poorer than some of its Caribbean neighbors, Dominica has a relatively low crime rate and does not have the extremes of wealth and poverty evident on other islands. Economic austerity measures, including higher taxes, were introduced in 2002. Massive protests followed.

In parliamentary elections in 2005, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's Dominica Labour Party won 12 of 21 seats.

A New President Is Chosen Despite Boycott

In September 2012, Parliament chose Eliud Williams, a former government administrator, to replace Nicholas Liverpool as president. Liverpool resigned due to health reasons. The United Workers Party, the main opposition party, boycotted the election. The party planned to take the issue to court, claiming that the election process was unconstitutional. Despite the boycott, Williams was expected to remain in office until October 2013, the date of the next general election.

On September 30, 2013, Charles Savarin was elected president in a 19-0 vote by Parliament. Once again the opposition boycotted the election. A member of the Dominica Labour Party, Savarin had previously served as Minister for National Security, Immigration, Labour and the Public Service.

See also Encyclopedia: Dominica.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Dominica


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