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Monday, January 12, 2009

Dominica (Commonwealth of)

The largest and most mountainous of the Windward Islands, with volcanic peaks, mountain streams and rivers, beaches of both black (volcanic) and golden sands, dense forests, quiet lakes, waterfalls, geysers and boiling volcanic pools, Dominica is potentially a major tourist destination.It has a relatively low crime rate for the Caribbean and although it is among the poorest countries in the region, disparities in wealth are not as marked as in the larger Caribbean islands. However, poor infrastructure and the absence of a large airport has impeded the growth of tourism. Proposals to build an airport capable of taking large jet aircraft have yet to materialise as there is concern that an increase in tourist arrivals, even with the promotion of ecotourism, would damage the island's finely balanced environment. The island, which was originally occupied by Carib Indians (some of whose descendants remain), was discovered by Columbus in 1493 and colonised by the French in the 1600s. In 1805, the island became a British possession and remained under British rule until 1967, when internal self-government was granted, followed by full independence in 1978. Post-independence politics have been somewhat stormy, with two coup attempts by leftist members of the island’s defence force during the early 1980s.