DOMINICA – ‘WAITIKUBULI’
Named after the day on which it was sighted by Christopher Columbus, Sunday 3rd November 1493, the island of Dominica was also named ‘Waitikubuli’ (“tall is her body”) by its indigenous Carib settlers. Descendants of the Caribs live in the Carib Territory and elect a Carib Chief every five years.
While the Spanish took little interest in the island, the island changed hands several times following a series of battles between the Caribs, French and British. In 1660, the French and British agreed to leave Dominica to the Caribs, but this arrangement only lasted a few years. In 1686, the island was declared neutral but with little success. As hostilities continued between England and France, the Caribs were divided between the opposing forces consequently suffering heavy losses. In 1763, the island was ceded to Britain until possession was finally settled in 1805 following which it remained British.
In 1967, Dominica attained Associated Statehood from Britain which retained responsibility for the island’s defense and foreign affairs. On 3rd November 1979, Dominica became independent with Patrick John as its first Prime Minister. As a result of strong French influence and its location between the two French departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique, Dominicans speak a French Creole known as ‘patois’. The name of the capital city, Roseau, is derived from the French word ‘roseau’ meaning ‘reed’. A number of its villages also carry French names such as ‘Vieille Case’ (‘old house’); and ‘Massacre’. Several mountains also have French names such as ‘Morne Aux Diables’ (Devils’ Mountain’); ‘Morne Trois Pitons’ (Three Peaks Mountain’); and several family names are of French origin such as “Laronde’, ‘Lafond’. ‘Langlais’.
On Remembrance Day every year, the French Representative in Dominica lays a wreath at the Cenotaph in commemoration of the French who died in the battles with the English over the island.
Dominica’s colorful history offers both the leisure and business visitor a chance to discover our diverse and exciting past.