Commonwealth of Dominica
Dominica is a small Caribbean island nation, nestled between Martinique and Guadeloupe. Though most people know about its glorious beaches and hot climate, there’s a lot more to the country to be discovered. To help you learn more about it, we’ve compiled the most fundamental facts about Dominica.
For starters, if you find yourself enamoured with the island, you may consider becoming a citizen. Dominica’s citizenship by investment programme was introduced in 1993 and is one of the world’s longest-running economic citizenship schemes.
Once investors obtain their Dominican passport, they and their families are welcome to move, work and even set up a business on this stunning Caribbean paradise. But that’s just one of the benefits of the CBI programme. Dominican citizens are also entitled to visa-free access to more than 115 countries around the world, including the entire European Union, the UK and Brazil.
All applicants need to do is choose from two investment options, and make the required financial contribution to the country. With a minimum investment of $100,000 USD, it is the cheapest citizenship by investment programme in the world.
Population: 71, 946
According to United Nations estimates, the current population of Dominica is 71,946, making it the 10th least-populated nation on earth. This is largely down to citizens opting to emigrate to other Caribbean islands and Western countries.
Dominica’s demographic breakdown in 2018 was:
0-14 years: 21.62%
15-24 years: 14.37%
25-54 years: 42.59%
55-64 years: 9.99%
65 years and over: 11.43%
Official language: English
English is the official language of Dominica and is universally spoken, though Dominican Creole (an Antillean Creole derived from French) and French Patois are also widely used. This is due to the long history of French migration to the island, as well as Dominica’s location between Martinique and Guadeloupe — two French-speaking countries. As a result, Dominica is part of La Francophonie, an organisation that represents nations where French is commonly spoken.
Christianity is the most common religion in Dominica, practised by over 90% of the population. Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are the prevailing forms, though there are also Rastafarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution of Dominica so inhabitants can follow alternative faiths.
Dominica’s capital is Roseau, a city situated on the southwest coast of the country, and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, the Roseau River and Morne Bruce mountain. This is the largest city in Dominica, and home to around a fifth of the island’s inhabitants. It is known for its 18th-century French architecture, bustling markets, and landmarks like the Roseau Cathedral and the Morne Bruce Cross. Roseau is also Dominica’s most important port for foreign trade and home to the presidential residence The State House, a number of universities, and the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation.
Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (XCD)
Dominica’s official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar, although foreign currencies including the euro and dollar are accepted as tender. The country adopted the currency in 1965, and shares it with seven other members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. It is also pegged to the US dollar at a rate of USD $1 to ECD $2.70. As Dominica is a member of the Commonwealth, all banknotes and coins feature an image of Queen Elizabeth II.
According to the World Bank, Dominica’s GDP in 2018 was USD $550,892,592.593.
Main industries: Agriculture, Tourism and Manufacturing
Dominica’s three main sectors are agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. Over 20% of the island’s land is arable and under cultivation, with bananas traditionally serving as Dominica’s largest export. However, there has been a shift in recent years towards producing other fruits, as well as vegetables and coffee.
Meanwhile, the country’s tourism sector has seen steady growth, with Dominica’s delights attracting around 200,000 holidaymakers a year. Finally, the island’s manufacturing industry primarily depends on raw materials from the agricultural sector, where in-demand exports include coconut soap, ceramics and shoes.
Also known as: The Nature Isle of the Caribbean
Dominica’s nickname is “The Nature Isle of the Caribbean”, due to it’s incredible natural beauty. Almost the whole country is forested, and it boasts an extensive national park system, including the Morne Trois Pitons rainforest, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. A trip to Dominica will give you a chance to experience wondrous waterfalls and mud ponds, and fauna such as parrots, iguanas and rare butterflies. It’s also an extremely mountainous nation, making it a popular hiking destination. Other natural hot spots include Dominica’s Boiling Lake, the world’s second-largest hot lake, and the Champagne Reef which is home to octopuses, seahorses and other fascinating sea life.
Date of Independence: 3 November 1978
Dominica gained independence from the United Kingdom on 3 November 1978, becoming a republic within the Commonwealth. Independence Day is celebrated every year, and marked by nationwide festivities, including musical festivals, cultural markets and beauty pageants.
Motto: Après le Bon Dieu, c’est la Terre
The island nation’s motto is ‘Après le Bon Dieu, c’est la Terre’, which translates to ‘After God, the Earth’ and perfectly encapsulates Dominica’s environmental ethos. It was suggested by historian Fr. R. Proesman in the 1960s, who recorded a song two decades earlier featuring those words. Dominican Chief Minister F.A. Baron and British Administrator Alec Lovelace were developing a motto and crest for Dominica at the time, and readily accepted it.
National Anthem: Isle of Beauty, Isle of Splendour
Dominica introduced this national anthem when it gained statehood in 1967. Lyrics were written by Wilfred Oscar Morgan with music composed by Lemuel McPherson Christian OBE.
Head of State: His Excellency, the Honourable Charles Savarin
The current Dominican head of state is Charles Savarin, who became the country’s eighth president in October 2013. He is a member of the Dominica Labour Party, and previously worked as a teacher, trade unionist, parliamentarian, diplomat, and government minister. Savarin was nominated by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who had been Dominica’s head of government since August 2004.
Government system: Parliamentary Republic
Dominica is a parliamentary democratic republic. The executive branch consists of the president and the prime minister, where the former is nominated by the latter, in consultation with the leader of the opposition party. Presidents are elected for a five-year term by parliament (the House of Assembly), and prime ministers are appointed depending on who is leading the party with the majority of elected representatives.
The president also appoints members of parliament based on the prime minister’s recommendations. The House of Assembly consists of 30 members (plus the Speaker and Attorney-General), with 21 of these elected and nine senators appointed by the president.
Dominica has a two-party system, consisting of the incumbent Dominica Labour Party and the United Workers’ Party. Elections take place at least every five years, with universal suffrage for adults.
Legal System: Based on English Common Law
Dominica’s legal system is based on English Common Law, just like one-third of the world’s jurisdictions. The hierarchy of the country’s courts is: Magistrate Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, and the Court of Appeal the Privy Council. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the Privy Council are binding authority and the English Courts are persuasive authority. Dominica has a written constitution that all laws must adhere to which includes the right to life, personal liberty and freedom of expression.
Main Airport: Douglas–Charles Airport
Formerly known as Melville Hall Airport, Douglas–Charles Airport is Dominica’s largest of the country’s two airports. Canefield Airport is the other. Douglas–Charles Airport operates both passenger and cargo planes to other destinations in the Caribbean.