Photos of Dominica

Introduction

Background

Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans due chiefly to the fierce resistance of the native Caribs. France ceded possession to Great Britain in 1763, which colonized the island in 1805. Slavery ended in 1833 and in 1835 the first three men of African descent were elected to the legislative assembly of Dominica. In 1871, Dominica became part first of the British Leeward Islands and then the British Windward Islands until 1958. In 1967 Dominica became an associated state of the UK, and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. In 1980, two years after independence, Dominica's fortunes improved when a corrupt and tyrannical administration was replaced by that of Mary Eugenia CHARLES, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, who remained in office for 15 years. On 18 September 2017, Hurricane Maria passed over the island causing extensive damage to structures, roads, communications, and the power supply, and largely destroying critical agricultural areas.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago

Geographic coordinates

15 25 N, 61 20 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 751 sq km

land: 751 sq km

water: NEGL

country comparison to the world: 188

Area - comparative

slightly more than four times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

148 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; moderated by northeast trade winds; heavy rainfall

Terrain

rugged mountains of volcanic origin

Elevation

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

highest point: Morne Diablotins 1,447 m

Natural resources

timber, hydropower, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 34.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 24% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 2.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 59.2% (2018 est.)

other: 6.1% (2018 est.)

Total renewable water resources

200 million cubic meters NA (2017 est.)

Population distribution

population is mosly clustered along the coast, with roughly a third living in the parish of St. George, in or around the capital of Roseau; the volcanic interior is sparsely populated

Natural hazards

flash floods are a constant threat; destructive hurricanes can be expected during the late summer months

volcanism: Dominica was the last island to be formed in the Caribbean some 26 million years ago, it lies in the middle of the volcanic island arc of the Lesser Antilles that extends from the island of Saba in the north to Grenada in the south; of the 16 volcanoes that make up this arc, five are located on Dominica, more than any other island in the Caribbean: Morne aux Diables (861 m), Morne Diablotins (1,430 m), Morne Trois Pitons (1,387 m), Watt Mountain (1,224 m), which last erupted in 1997, and Morne Plat Pays (940 m); the two best known volcanic features on Dominica, the Valley of Desolation and the Boiling Lake thermal areas, lie on the flanks of Watt Mountain and both are popular tourist destinations

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

known as "The Nature Island of the Caribbean" due to its spectacular, lush, and varied flora and fauna, which are protected by an extensive natural park system; the most mountainous of the Lesser Antilles, its volcanic peaks are cones of lava craters and include Boiling Lake, the second-largest, thermally active lake in the world

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Dominican(s)

adjective: Dominican

Ethnic groups

African descent 86.6%, mixed 9.1%, Indigenous 2.9%, other 1.3%, unspecified 0.2% (2001 est.)

Languages

English (official), French patois

Religions

Roman Catholic 61.4%, Protestant 28.6% (includes Evangelical 6.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 6.1%, Pentecostal 5.6%, Baptist 4.1%, Methodist 3.7%, Church of God 1.2%, other 1.2%), Rastafarian 1.3%, Jehovah's Witness 1.2%, other 0.3%, none 6.1%, unspecified 1.1% (2001 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 21.41% (male 8,135/female 7,760)

15-24 years: 13.15% (male 5,017/female 4,746)

25-54 years: 42.79% (male 16,133/female 15,637)

55-64 years: 10.53% (male 4,089/female 3,731)

65 years and over: 12.12% (male 4,128/female 4,867) (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 34.9 years

male: 34.4 years

female: 35.5 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 87

Birth rate

14.16 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 129

Death rate

8.14 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Net migration rate

-5.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 204

Population distribution

population is mosly clustered along the coast, with roughly a third living in the parish of St. George, in or around the capital of Roseau; the volcanic interior is sparsely populated

Urbanization

urban population: 71.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.84% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

15,000 ROSEAU (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.56 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 15.67 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.24 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 125

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.96 years

male: 74.99 years

female: 81.09 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 77

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 95.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 4.3% of population

Physicians density

1.12 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

3.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)

People - note

3,000-3,500 Kalinago (Carib) still living on Dominica are the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the Caribbean; only 70-100 may be "pure" Kalinago because of years of integration into the broader population

Environment

Environment - current issues

water shortages a continuing concern; pollution from agrochemicals and from untreated sewage; forests endangered by the expansion of farming; soil erosion; pollution of the coastal zone by agricultural and industrial chemicals, and untreated sewage

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 18.17 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.18 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 0.04 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 19 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 0 cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 1 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

200 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Climate

tropical; moderated by northeast trade winds; heavy rainfall

Land use

agricultural land: 34.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 24% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 2.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 59.2% (2018 est.)

other: 6.1% (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Urbanization

urban population: 71.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.84% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 13,176 tons (2013 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Commonwealth of Dominica

conventional short form: Dominica

etymology: the island was named by explorer Christopher COLUMBUS for the day of the week on which he spotted it, Sunday ("Domingo" in Latin), 3 November 1493

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Roseau

geographic coordinates: 15 18 N, 61 24 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name is French for "reed"; the first settlement was named after the river reeds that grew in the area

Administrative divisions

10 parishes; Saint Andrew, Saint David, Saint George, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Luke, Saint Mark, Saint Patrick, Saint Paul, Saint Peter

Independence

3 November 1978 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 3 November (1978)

Constitution

history: previous 1967 (preindependence); latest presented 25 July 1978, entered into force 3 November 1978

amendments: proposed by the House of Assembly; passage of amendments to constitutional sections such as fundamental rights and freedoms, the government structure, and constitutional amendment procedures requires approval by three fourths of the Assembly membership in the final reading of the amendment bill, approval by simple majority in a referendum, and assent of the president; amended several times, last in 2015

Legal system

common law based on the English model

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Charles A. SAVARIN (since 2 October 2013)

head of government: Prime Minister Roosevelt SKERRIT (since 8 January 2004)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister

elections/appointments: president nominated by the prime minister and leader of the opposition party and elected by the House of Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 1 October 2018 (next to be held in October 2023); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Charles A. SAVARIN (DLP) reelected president unopposed

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Assembly (32 seats; 21 representatives directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, 9 senators appointed by the president - 5 on the advice of the prime minister, and 4 on the advice of the leader of the opposition party, plus 2 ex-officio members - the house speaker and the attorney general; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 6 December 2019 (next to be held in 2024); note - tradition dictates that the election is held within 5 years of the last election, but technically it is 5 years from the first seating of parliament plus a 90-day grace period

election results: percent of vote by party - DLP 59.0%, UWP 41.0%; seats by party - DLP 18, UWP 3

Judicial branch

highest courts: the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is the superior court of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States; the ECSC - headquartered on St. Lucia - consists of the Court of Appeal - headed by the chief justice and 4 judges - and the High Court with 18 judges; the Court of Appeal is itinerant, traveling to member states on a schedule to hear appeals from the High Court and subordinate courts; High Court judges reside in the member states, with 2 in Dominica; note - in 2015, Dominica acceded to the Caribbean Court of Justice as final court of appeal, replacing that of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in London

judge selection and term of office: chief justice of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court appointed by the Her Majesty, Queen ELIZABETH II; other justices and judges appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, an independent body of judicial officials; Court of Appeal justices appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 65; High Court judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 62

subordinate courts: Court of Summary Jurisdiction; magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

Dominica Freedom Party or DFP [Judith PESTAINA]
Dominica Labor Party or DLP [Roosevelt SKERRIT]
Dominica United Workers Party or UWP [Lennox LINTON]

International organization participation

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CD, CDB, CELAC, Commonwealth of Nations, ECCU, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OECS, OIF, OPANAL, OPCW, Petrocaribe, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Vince HENDERSON (since 18 January 2017)

chancery: 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016

telephone: [1] (202) 364-6781

FAX: [1] (202) 364-6791

consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: the US does not have an embassy in Dominica; the US Ambassador to Barbados is accredited to Dominica

Flag description

green with a centered cross of three equal bands - the vertical part is yellow (hoist side), black, and white and the horizontal part is yellow (top), black, and white; superimposed in the center of the cross is a red disk bearing a Sisserou parrot, unique to Dominica, encircled by 10 green, five-pointed stars edged in yellow; the 10 stars represent the 10 administrative divisions (parishes); green symbolizes the island's lush vegetation; the triple-colored cross represents the Christian Trinity; the yellow color denotes sunshine, the main agricultural products (citrus and bananas), and the native Carib Indians; black is for the rich soil and the African heritage of most citizens; white signifies rivers, waterfalls, and the purity of aspirations; the red disc stands for social justice

National symbol(s)

Sisserou parrot, Carib Wood flower; national colors: green, yellow, black, white, red

National anthem

name: Isle of Beauty

lyrics/music: Wilfred Oscar Morgan POND/Lemuel McPherson CHRISTIAN

note: adopted 1967

Economy

Economic overview

The Dominican economy was dependent on agriculture - primarily bananas - in years past, but increasingly has been driven by tourism, as the government seeks to promote Dominica as an "ecotourism" destination. However, Hurricane Maria, which passed through the island in September 2017, destroyed much of the country’s agricultural sector and caused damage to all of the country’s transportation and physical infrastructure. Before Hurricane Maria, the government had attempted to foster an offshore financial industry and planned to sign agreements with the private sector to develop geothermal energy resources. At a time when government finances are fragile, the government’s focus has been to get the country back in shape to service cruise ships. The economy contracted in 2015 and recovered to positive growth in 2016 due to a recovery of agriculture and tourism. Dominica suffers from high debt levels, which increased from 67% of GDP in 2010 to 77% in 2016. Dominica is one of five countries in the East Caribbean that have citizenship by investment programs whereby foreigners can obtain passports for a fee and revenue from this contribute to government budgets.

Real GDP growth rate

-4.7% (2017 est.)

2.6% (2016 est.)

-3.7% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 217

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$855 million (2019 est.)

$826 million (2018 est.)

$807 million (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 209

GDP (official exchange rate)

$557 million (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$11,917 (2019 est.)

$11,537 (2018 est.)

$11,304 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 133

Gross national saving

10.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

20% of GDP (2016 est.)

14.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 170

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 22.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 12.6% (2017 est.)

services: 65.1% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 60.6% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 26.2% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 21.5% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 54.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -62.7% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 60.5 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 89.3 (2020)

Trading score: 74.3 (2020)

Enforcement score: 57.5 (2020)

Agricultural products

bananas, yams, grapefruit, taro, milk, coconuts, oranges, yautia, plantains, sugar cane

note: forest and fishery potential not exploited

Industries

soap, coconut oil, tourism, copra, furniture, cement blocks, shoes

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 40%

industry: 32%

services: 28% (2002 est.)

Budget

revenues: 227.8 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 260.4 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

82.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

71.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 33

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Current account balance

-$70 million (2017 est.)

$5 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 83

Exports

$28 million (2017 est.)

$43.7 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 207

Exports - partners

Saudi Arabia 47%, Qatar 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

medical instruments, pharmaceuticals, low-voltage protection equipment, tropical fruits, bandages (2019)

Imports

$206.6 million (2017 est.)

$188.4 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 210

Imports - partners

United States 57%, Nigeria 11%, China 6%, Italy 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, natural gas, crude petroleum, recreational boats, cars (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$212.3 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$221.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

Debt - external

$280.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$314.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

Exchange rates

East Caribbean dollars (XCD) per US dollar -

2.7 (2017 est.)

2.7 (2016 est.)

2.7 (2015 est.)

2.7 (2014 est.)

2.7 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,751

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3.71 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 214

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 78,437

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 105.79 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 198

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: fully automatic network; there are multiple competing operators licensed to provide services, most of them are small and localized; the telecom sector across the Caribbean region remains one of the key growth areas; (2020)

domestic: fixed-line connections continue to decline slowly with only two active operators providing about 4 fixed-line connections per 100 persons; subscribership among the three mobile-cellular providers is about 106 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 1-767; landing points for the ECFS and the Southern Caribbean Fiber submarine cables providing connectivity to other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad and to the US; microwave radio relay and SHF radiotelephone links to Martinique and Guadeloupe; VHF and UHF radiotelephone links to Saint Lucia (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

no terrestrial TV service available; subscription cable TV provider offers some locally produced programming plus channels from the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean; state-operated radio broadcasts on 6 stations; privately owned radio broadcasts on about 15 stations (2019)

Internet users

total: 51,538

percent of population: 69.62% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 196

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 11,514

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2 (2019)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1

Roadways

total: 1,512 km (2018)

paved: 762 km (2018)

unpaved: 750 km (2018)

country comparison to the world: 174

Merchant marine

total: 98

by type: general cargo 28, oil tanker 22, other 48 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 90

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Portsmouth, Roseau

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force (includes Coast Guard) (2019)

Military - note

Dominica participates in the Regional Security System (RSS) an international agreement for the defense and security of the eastern Caribbean region

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Dominica is the only Caribbean state to challenge Venezuela's sovereignty claim over Aves Island and joins the other island nations in challenging whether the feature sustains human habitation, a criterion under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ and continental shelf claims over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for narcotics bound for the US and Europe; minor cannabis producer