August 2004: Reunion Vieille Case
Oktober 2005:New Project

Dominica, with an area of 789 km2 is approximately twice as large as Vienna and is the largest of the Lesser Antilles, which are also called Windward Islands. The two neighbouring islands are Guadeloupe (french) to the north and Martinique (french) to the south.
Nature and Economy
Dominica, like the other islands of the Lesser Antilles, is of volcanic origin. Boiling Lakes and Sulfur Springs still bear evidence of this today. A severly dissected mountain ranges from north to south, the highest peak of which is Morne Diablotin (1432m), the climate being damp, humid and of a tropical nature (midyear temperature = 27° C)
The North East Trade Winds bring tropical depressions, mainly in August and September as thunder storms ("hurricane-season"). Dense evergreen rain forests cover the mountains in the interior of the island, which coastal areas only are accessible and populated.
Dominica's 80.000 inhabitants are predominantly mulatto and black. Aproximately 15.000 inhabitants live in the capital city Roseau which lies on the west coast. About 2.000 Carib Indians live on a Reservation (Carib Reserve) near Marigot. The offical language is English.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the island's economy and its main exports are derived from this industry. The main crops to be planted on the fertile soils are bananas and coconuts, in addition to which there are many other tropical fruits, namely cocoa, citrus fruits, mango, vanilla and other seasonings and spices. The industry operates above all the manufacturing of agricultural produce, for example the extraction of fruit juices, essential oils, soap and rum. Moreover there are textile manufacturing industries. Stock-farming and fishery serve exclusively for local consumption.
More than other islands geographical factors have determined the course of Dominican history. The dense rain forests and the comparatively high mountains protected the Carib Indians from European conquerors and so Dominica remained longer than other islands spared from colonization.

Also the tribe of the Taino belonged to these Peoples. The peaceful Taino were living on the level of a primitive planters' culture, but were already showing signs of developing into a High Culture. Shortly before the birth of Christ there began a mass migration of the Taino away from the South American continent to the Caribbean islands. Although the distance betwwen the individual islands amounted to only approximately 32-48 km, they remained often many years on an island before moving on.
Research on Martinique and Guadeloupe showed that both of theses islands had already been inhabited at the beginning of Christianity. The presumption is not so farfetched that Dominica which lies exactly between these two islands, was also inhabited by the Taino during this period.
Already before the discovery by the Spanish the Taino had been driven from the Lesser Antilles by the warlike Caniba (Arawake-tribe). The Spaniards named these people Caribales from which the term "Cannibale" originates.

Moreover it was impossible to cultivate large plantations on such a hilly area. Also the Maroons (escaped slaves) hid themselves in the woods from the slave keepers and later the freed slaver could begin their lives as samall farmers on small holdings. Until our century the character of the island's landscape impeded completion of the public communication network and the economical ie. technical development.
Dominica's history not only recounts wars between peolpe, but also war between man and island itself.
The Indians
About 1000 BC lives the Family of Peoples, the Arawakes ( Arawak =eater of Cassava) at the mouth of the Orinoco in South Ameria.

Spain and Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus sights the Lesser Antilles for the first time.
Believing these islands to be stretched infront of the Asian mainland,
he named them "The Westindian Islands".


During his second voyage he lands on the 3rd of November on Dominica and names
the island after the day of its discovery - it is a Sunday, the Day of the Lord -


Dominica with twenty other isalngd is apportioned by the Spaniards to the diocese of
Puerto Rico and consequently colonized - of course only on paper.


The Spanish town councillor Antonio Serrano shal a last colonize Guadeloupe and
Dominica Five years later though, he is driven off the island by the Carib Indians

Despite incessant conflicts between Indians and the Spanish, as the expansion of Spanish
predominance in the Caribbean rises, so too does Dominica«s significance as a base for the taking
of food an fresh water.
On the sourrounding islands, the indians soon became extinct from illness brought in ba the
Spanish settlers. Still in Dominica the Caribs in defence of their living space, also aided by the
impassible terrain are always successful. They take Spaniards prisoners and make them their
slaves /(for example in 1569 the Caribs had more than 30 spanish and 40 african slaves).

On account of the warlike altercations Dominica is continously avoided by spanish ships.

England and France
In the course of the 16th century the colonization endeavours of the super powers England and
France extend to the Caribbean.


Dominica is granted to the Earl of Carlisle as Carlisle Province, but later is taken over
by France.


The first missionary Father Raymond Breton is sent to Dominica from Guadeloupe.
The 33-year old Father Breton thaught himself the Caribbean language before leaving.
During his stay in Dominica, he compiled the "Dictionaire Caribe-Francais" in which
is to be found, apart from the word meanings, also an exact description of the
Caribbean Life in the mid 17th century.

The first Catholic Mass is celebrated in Dominica.

The French Govenour De Poincy signed a contract with Caribs which stated that
Dominica and St. Vincent ought not to become colonized, but left to the indians as their
living space. (Still today there are within the Caribbean Carib Reseves only on these
two islands, about 2000 Caribs still live in Dominica.)

The Indians on Dominica also became naturally prejudiced due to the apparent tension between
France and England. They divide themselves into two groups. The indians well-disposed towards
England live on the Leeward coast and those well-disposed towards the French on the Windward coast.

The "Windward-Indians" attack british neighbouring islands.


The halfcast Indian Warner with 600 Caribs and 17 canoes seize french settlements on
St. Lucia. As a result he is appointed deputy of the british government in Dominica by
the British under Lord Francis Willoughby.
Lord Willoughby by so doing, tries fo find a diplomatic solution and also to win over the
french-influenced Indians on the Windward coast to his cause. His contemporary
Sir William Stapleton is indeed of the opinion that the indians should be conclusively


The Caribs seize the british island of Antigua. As a result Sir William Stapleton
with commander-in-chief Phillip Warner (halfbrother of Indian Warner) leads a
retaliation back against Dominica. In this battle Indian Warner is betrayed and killed by
his half-brother Phillip. Even today the place Massacre bears witness to the battle
between the Caribs and the British.

The British and French declare Dominica a neutral island.


Inspite of the declaration of neutralization there are 50-60 french families on Dominica
who carry on peaceful barter with the Caribs. Coarse habits prevail among these
earlier settlers. They inform an support pirates, sell them wares and hide their stolen loot. Their settlements lie scattered along the Leeward coast, the largest being in the
delta of the Roseau river (today the capital city Roseau).
Still today villages bear the most usual french names which originate from this time.
(for example Grand Savanne, Soufriere, etc.)


Father Guillaume Martel comes to Dominica and founds a christian parish Roseau
For the first time baptisms, weddings and deaths are registered.


There are 3.032 people of whom more than half are slaves.
(Since 1518 slaves from Africa were being shipped to America and the Caribbean).

The remaining Carib Indians were forced to retire from the Leeward Coast to the rough
and rocky Windward side. (Today this is Dominica's "Carib-Reserve".)


The arrival of slave transports from Africa to the Caribbean increases.
By the "Code Noir" it is possible for slaves to buy themselves free. Many of these free
slaves settle in Dominica as there they find better living conditions (unpopulated land,
cultivation possibilities).


Dominica is captured by the British in the course of the Seven-Years-War (1756-63).
The few french inhabitants surrender to the British Military Government.


By the " Treaty of Paris" Dominica, Tobago, St. Vincent, Grenada and the
Grenadines are apportioned to England, with the central administration in
Grenada. But the intensive French influence: the language, the custons, religion
and place names remain indelibly preserved in the island's history.


The British John Byres surveys the island. According to his plan, Portsmouth
lying in a natural wet dock should become the capital city.
As the area is swampy his plan cannot be realised.


Dominica is placed under the exclusive government of Sir William Young.
Fort Young today is a hotel.


Sir Thomas Shirley takes over the government.
Fort Shirley today is an excursion site.

France takes over the leadership once more.

England reconquers the island again.

During the last century more slaves succeeded in fleeing to the interior of the island. These were called "runnaways" by the British and "negres marrons" by the French, from which the term "Maroons" originates. They had camps in the mountains with some village structure and chiefs. Frequent attacks by the Maroons on inhabitants lead to the founding of a militia.

The most important Maroon chiefs were caught and gruesomely executed.


French Revolution and storming of the Bastille, which aroused slave revolts
also in Dominica.


New Maroon rebellions, which due to further horrifying executions were only ended
in 1814.


Napoleon is exterminatingly beaten at Waterloo. Great Britain now takes over
finally the leadership of the island, after having been at war with France over this
for two centuries.

Dominica is a british colony.

For the first time three coloureds are voted as member in the Lower House.

Slavery is offically abolished. (14.175 slaves became free people)

Coloureds possess the majority in the Lower House.


Dominica, due to the increasing influence of coloureds in the political system,
is declared a british crown colony and again centrally governed by England.

Dominica is made a Federal Colony and enters into the Leeward Island Federation.

In the further course of Dominican history, still some personalities are to be recognized who vehemently worked towards the island's further development: Dr. John Imray is the founder of today's Health Service and the Roseau Hospital; Hesketh Bell strove for administrative improvment, and also a public library, and almshouse, a telephone connection between Portsmouth and Roseau...
Indeed the ever recurring hurricanes inflict severe damage and make all new developments to naught. One of the most severe hurricanes was "David" 1979, which considerably destroyed the island. Ten years later, after the destruction of 1979 had been partially repaired, and a rosy future had been forecasted, the hurrican "Hugo" again devastated 80% of the agricultural cultivated land.

Political Development in Dominica
Numerous parties have been involved in tha political development of Dominica. Out of these remain the two most important, the Dominica Labour Party (DLP/Social democratic) and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP/conservative) most recently the United Workers Party (UWP).


First meeting of the British Westindian federation in Jamaica. These member islands
of the confederation hope for mutal aid with their economic problems.
The confederation corresponding party is the West Indian Federal Labour Party.


Founding of the DLP by Dominica-born Phyllis Shand Allfrey, who was an active
social worker in England during second World War and also and active member of the
British Labour Party. The DLP is therefore Dominica«s first political party


The DLP in the course of the Federation was incorporated into the Westindian Federal
Party. Edward Leblanc becomes party speaker of the DLP and a representative of the
Federal Parliament. Phyllis Allfrey becomes social Minister of the Federal Government.


Under the leadership of Edward Leblanc the DLP wins the elections against the DUPP
(Dominica United People's Party) and Leblanc remains the ruling party leader until
1974. Phyllis Allfrey is dismissed from the DLP because she published an article in the
newspaper "The Herald", the publisher of which she herself was, in which she criticises
the governments's measures for raising taxes.


Dissolution of the British Westindian Federation after some discrepancies.
Leblanc resigns as member of the Federation Parliament.


Dominica is now no longer a British Crowncolony, but an Assiciated State with
Great Britain.


Presentation of Legislature for the censoring of critical public opinion of the government
in newspaper articles etc. As a result, protest demonstrations in front of the
government building.
Also the lawyer Mary Eugenia Charles takes part in the protest march.
In October the same year, together with Phyllis and Robert Allfrey and others, she
founds the DFP (Dominica Freedom Party).


Edward Leblanc retires after thridteen years as Prime Minister from politics. His
successor is Patrick John (DLP), who ows his increasing popularity among other things
to his unrelenting attitude towards the "Dreads" (Predominantly youth who partially
oriented themselves to the Jamaican-oriented Rastafari Movement).


Final Declaration of Independence on November 3rd, the 485th anniversay of Dominica's
Discovery by Columbus.
The island receives the title "Commonwealth of Dominica" in order to aviod it being mistaken for the Dominican Republic.


General strike following serious unrest. Patrick John is forced to resign. An interim
government is formed, comprising a miced-party coalition, with the function of
organizing new elections. Oliver Seraphin being chosen as government leader, and
Mike Douglas (DLP) his deputy.


Election victory for the DFP under Mary Eugenia Charles (First Lady Prime Minister in
the Caribbean). She describes her own position as "liberal, democratic and anti-
communistic". Leader of the opposition is Mike Douglas.


Disclosure of other attempted overthrows. Patick John is arrested, as one of the
presumable ringleaders. Beginning of 1983, he is at least released on bail.

My first trip to Dominica....)


"Reunion 88" - ten years after independence Mary Eugenia Charles makes it known
that she will lead her party in the 1990 elections.


Election results 11 seats to Freedom Party, 10 seats to United Workers Party and
Labour Party. The new Popsition Leader is Edison James of The United Workers Party.

Eugenia Charles resigns as DFP leader but continues as prime minister.


Edison James becomes prime minister following the victory of his United Workers Party
(UWP) in the general elections; Eugenia Charles retires after 27 years in politics.


Government announces plans to make Dominica a principal provider of offshore
financial services "not only in the Caribbean, but the world".

Hurricane Lenny causes widespread damage.



January - Rosie Douglas becomes prime minister after his Dominica Labour Party
ousts the United Workers Party in a closely contested election.

October - Rosie Douglas dies. He is succeeded by Pierre Charles.


December - Parliament approves amendments to the legislation allowing the state-
owned National Commercial Bank to engage in offshore financial services.


May - Prime Minister Pierre Charles tells Caribbean Development Bank that Dominica
faces economic and financial crisis. Exports and tourism are down. Charles also cites
effects of globalisation.


January - Pierre Charles dies in office, aged 46. Education Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
succeeds the late premier.


March - Dominica cuts diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favour of ties with mainland
China. China agrees to give aid worth more than $100m over five years.

August - my last -11th (!)- visit to Dominica!)


November - An earthquake damages buildings in the north of the island. Prime Minister
Skerrit says repairs will cost millions of dollars.

to be continued!
see also:

map of Dominica


For accommodation in Dominica see: Silver Lining Apartments & Car Rental
after work ..........