Profile Source: Wallace Revels
Introduction / History
Dominica (pronounced "Dom-in-eek-a") is a tropical, volcanic island in the eastern Caribbean Sea located between the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Dominica is famous for its tropical rainforest, rivers, and waterfalls which result from the high annual rainfall. Its volcanic origin is most noticeable in the Boiling Lake (one of the largest of its kind in the world) and smaller fumaroles around the island. Dominica is widely acknowledged to be one of the best underwater diving sites and prime whale watching locations in the world.
Almost all Dominicans are descendants of enslaved Africans brought in by colonial planters in the 18th century. Dominica holds the distinction of being the only island in the eastern Caribbean to retain some of its pre-Columbian population--the Carib Indians--about 3,000 of whom live on the island's east coast. English is the official language; however, because of historic French domination, the most widely spoken dialect is a French-based Creole. The majority of the population is Catholic but, in recent years, a number of Protestant churches have been established. (1) (2)
The island's indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Carib Indians in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493 and Spanish ships soon began landing on the island regularly. Despite Spain's frequent landing on Dominica during the 16th century, fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged their efforts at settlement.
In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained. Rival expeditions of British and French foresters began harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.
Largely due to Dominica's position between French interests Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a settlement was established and grew. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years' War, the island became a British possession. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the French mounted a successful invasion with the active cooperation of the population. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, returned the island to Britain. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.
In 1763, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only the white population. In 1831, reflecting a liberalization of official British racial attitudes, the Brown Privilege Bill conferred political and social rights on free nonwhites. Three Blacks were elected to the legislative assembly the following year. Following the abolition of slavery, in 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature in the 19th century. Most Black legislators were smallholders or merchants who held economic and social views diametrically opposed to the interests of the small, wealthy English planter class. Reacting to a perceived threat, the planters lobbied for more direct British rule.
In 1865, after much agitation and tension, the colonial office replaced the elective assembly with one comprised of one-half elected members and one-half appointed. Planters allied with colonial administrators outmaneuvered the elected legislators on numerous occasions. In 1871, Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation. The power of the Black population progressively eroded. Crown Colony government was re-established in 1896. All political rights for the vast majority of the population were effectively curtailed. Development aid, offered as compensation for disenfranchisement, proved to have a negligible effect.
Following World War I, an upsurge of political consciousness throughout the Caribbean led to the formation of the Representative Government Association. Marshaling public frustration with the lack of a voice in the governing of Dominica, this group won one-third of the popularly elected seats of the legislative assembly in 1924 and one-half in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Dominica was transferred from the Leeward Island Administration and was governed as part of the Windwards until 1958, when it joined the short-lived West Indies Federation.
After the federation dissolved, Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom in 1967 and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. On November 3, 1978, the Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom. (1)
Where are they Located?
Dominica is located among the islands forming a chain in the eastern Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico and South America.
What are Their Lives Like?
Many consider Dominica's economic situation the most challenging of all the Eastern Caribbean states. The country nearly had a financial crisis in 2003 and 2004. Growth in 2006 was attributed to gains in tourism, construction, offshore and other services, and some sub-sectors of the banana industry.
Bananas and other agriculture dominate Dominica's economy, and nearly one-third of the labor force works in agriculture. This sector, however, is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and to external events affecting commodity prices. In 2007, Hurricane Dean caused significant damage to the agricultural sector as well as the country's infrastructure, especially roads. In response to reduced European Union (EU) banana trade preferences, the government has diversified the agricultural sector by introducing coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, and exotic fruits such as mangoes, guavas, and papayas. Dominica has had some success in increasing its manufactured exports (primarily soap).
Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, tourism has developed more slowly than on neighboring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica's high, rugged mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive eco-tourism destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in the capital.
Dominica's currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), a regional currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the EC$, manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries. The ECCB has kept the EC$ pegged at EC$2.7=U.S. $1.
The population growth rate is very low, due primarily to emigration to more prosperous More Americans visit Dominica than any other national group. In 2008, tourist visitors totaled around 460,000, mainly from the United States, the French West Indies, the United Kingdom, and CARICOM. The two largest private employers in Dominica are U.S. companies, and a large number of Americans attend Ross University, a U.S. medical school with a campus in Portsmouth. The United States and Dominica have friendly bilateral relations. The United States supports the Dominican Government's efforts to expand its economic base and to provide a higher standard of living for its citizens. The United States maintains no official presence in Dominica.
Annual rainfall in Dominica varies considerably from 50 inches along the coast to over 300 inches in the interior. There is a dry season from January to June and a rainy season from August to October. The peak of hurricane season is late August and early September. The electrical outlets provide 220/240 volts at 50 cycles. The tap water is considered safe for drinking and public transportation is available in the larger cities.
While not considered the most modern of locations in terms of conveniences, Dominica offers several accommodations that include amenities such as air conditioning, television, telephone, and internet connectivity.
What are Their Beliefs?
The majority of Dominican citizens practice Roman Catholicism with the remainder practicing various styles of protestant Christianity, Islam, and Rastafarianism.
What are Their Needs?
Dominica is somewhat less affluent than the major industrialized countries of the world. Economic instability and high unemployment make it difficult for many in the more rural areas of the island to make a living. Food, household supplies, toiletries, school supplies, and medicinal items are likely needed is some areas of the island.
Dominica also needs a clear, consistent, and persistent presentation of the Gospel via Biblical Christianity.
* Pray for God to send laborers into this field of opportunity.
* Pray for ministry efforts to be successful in conversion to Christianity among the local residents.
* Pray for the establishment of Biblical and evangelical-minded churches on the island.
* Pray for medical and economic development missions to guide the island in developing opportunities for improved health and well-being in the island's rural areas.
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