Dominica History

Fort Shirley ruins at Cabritz national park

Throughout its history, the fertile land of Dominica has attracted settlers and colonizers, and has been the subject of the military, and often bloody squabbles of European powers.

At the time of Columbus’ visit in November 1493, the island was a stronghold of the Caribs from South America, who were driving out the Arawaks. In 1627, the English took theoretical possession without settling, but by 1632, the island had become a de facto French colony ; it remained so until 1759, when the English captured it. In 1660, the English and French agreed to leave the Caribs in undisturbed possession, but in fact French settlers went on arriving, bringing enslaved Africans with them. In history Dominica changed hands between the two European powers, passing back to France (1778), and again to England (1783). The French attempted to invade in 1795 and 1805, before eventually withdrawing, leaving Britain in possession.

In 1833, the island was linked to Antigua and the other Leeward Islands under a Governor General at Antigua, but subsequently became part of the Federation of the Leeward Islands Group (1940-60). Dominica joined the West Indies Federation at its foundation in 1958, and remained a member until differences among larger members led to its dissolution in 1962. Dominica became an Associated State of the United Kingdom in 1967, with full internal self-government, but Britain remained responsible for foreign policy and defence.

An important day in history – Full Independence on November 3, 1978.