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Dominica

Capital city: Roseau

Population: 72,146 (2021)

Land area: 751 km²

Official language: English

Legal system: English common law

Time zone: GMT-4

Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar

GDP: 0.53 USD Billion (2021 est.)

Main industries: Soap, coconut oil, tourism, copra, furniture, cement blocks, shoes

Principal exports: Bananas, soap, bay oil, vegetables, grapefruit, oranges

Dominica is an island country located in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The island was formed from volcanic activity. It lies between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante to the north and Martinique to the south. It is known as the “Nature Isle of the Caribbean” for its natural beauty.

Demographics

Dominica’s population in July 2021 was recorded to be 74,584. Due to substantial emigration to other nations, the country’s population growth is modest. The United States is the most popular destination for Dominicans, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. Much of the population is concentrated in the largest city and capital of Roseau, which has 16,500 residents. No other city has a population of more than 5,000 people. Most Dominicans are of African heritage (84.5%), with a considerable mixed-race population (9.0%). There is a tiny group of European ancestors, including some Lebanese, Syrians, and Asians, who are descendants of Irish, British, and French colonists.

English is the official language. It is widely used throughout the Island, particularly in government, schools, and urban settings. French-based creole has been the oral

language of the rural population for centuries. The dominant religion is Christianity, Catholicism constituting 53% and Protestantism about 30%.

History

Within Dominica, the formation of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) from the People’s National Movement and other groups in the early 1960s spurred local demand for greater autonomy in internal affairs. Edward LeBlanc became Chief Minister in 1961. Under his leadership, in 1967 Dominica became one of the West Indies Associated States, with full internal self-government, while the UK remained responsible for foreign policy and defence. At LeBlanc’s retirement in 1974, Patrick John succeeded as DLP leader and Premier. After winning a large majority at the 1975 elections, John pursued the course agreed by the Associated States to seek independence separately.

On 3 November 1978, Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom as a republic within the Commonwealth and took the name of Commonwealth of Dominica. John became its first Prime Minister, and Frederick Degazon the non-executive President.

Key dates

1763 – Britain gains possession of Dominica in accordance with the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years’ War. It establishes a legislative assembly, representing only the white population.

1831 – Britain confers political and social rights on free non-whites.

1834 – Slavery abolished.

1838 – Dominica becomes the first and only British colony in the Caribbean to have a black-controlled legislature.

1865 – Britain replaces the elected assembly with one consisting of one-half elected members and one-half appointed.

1896 – Britain re-establishes crown colony government over Dominica.

1951 – Britain declares universal adult suffrage established in Dominica.

1958-62 – Dominica a member of the British-sponsored West Indies Federation.

1960 – Britain grants Dominica self-government, with a legislative council and a chief minister.

1978 – Dominica becomes independent.

Legal System and Government

The politics of Dominica takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Dominica is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The legal system of the country is based on the English Common Law system. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) and the Privy Council are the main bodies of binding authority. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is headquartered in St Lucia and is responsible for the administration of justice in Dominica.

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court consists of the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal. The High Court has 16 judges, one of whom is permanently resident in the country and sits in the court of summary jurisdiction. The district magistrates’ courts handle less serious cases. There are three magistrates’ courts, with appeal made to the ECSC.  The Court of Appeal is itinerant. The High Court’s jurisdiction includes fundamental rights and freedoms, and constitutional issues. In 2003 Caribbean leaders ratified a treaty establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Economy

Dominica’s economy is largely dependent upon agriculture. The agricultural sector includes production of bananas, citrus, coconuts, cocoa, herbal oils, and extracts. There has been diversification into other crops such as citrus fruits, vegetables, coffee, patchouli, aloe vera, cut flowers, mangoes, guavas, and papayas. Attempts to diversify have had some success, with a growing tourism industry as the government seeks to promote Dominica as an “ecotourism” destination. It also has a small offshore financial sector.

Trade

In 2019, Dominica exported a total of $46.7M worth of goods, the top commodities include medical instruments (27.7%), special pharmaceuticals (12.5%), low-voltage protection equipment (9.2%), tropical fruits (4.3%), and bandages (3.1%). The most common destinations for the exports of Dominica are Saudi Arabia (47.2%), Qatar (4.6%), Israel (4.3%), France (3.6%), and Canada (3.5%). Whereas Dominica’s imports amounted to US$561 million; with the top products purchases being refined petroleum (29.9%), petroleum gas (15.1%), crude petroleum (11.1%) and recreational boats (4.8%). The main supplier was the United States (57.4%), followed by Nigeria (11.2%), China (5.9%) and Italy (4.8%)

Investment Opportunities

Dominica experiences above average levels of rainfall which gives rise to its fertile soil, and the country also possesses natural reserves of minerals and hot springs which gives the Dominica a comparative advantage in agricultural processing, mineral drinkable water and mining, due to which there is high potential in these sectors for investment. Furthermore, the government of Dominica wants to use its natural resources to advance its renewable energy sector thus welcomes investment by providing incentives such as tax holidays of up to 15 years and import duty exemptions on capital goods, machinery and building material that may be used for the development of these sectors.

Sources

https://thecommonwealth.org/our-member-countries/dominica

https://www.britannica.com/place/Dominica

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-19246342

https://www.britannica.com/place/Dominica#ref54613

https://thecommonwealth.org/our-member-countries/dominica/history

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-languages-are-spoken-in-dominica.html

https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/dominica/

https://oec.world/en/profile/country/dma