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Celebrate our Creole Culture

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Traditional Dancing

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Mas Domnik – Dominica’s unique Carnival

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History and Culture

Despite Christopher Columbus arriving in Dominica in 1493, just a year after his first voyage to the New World, Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonised by Europeans, around one hundred years later. Columbus did, however leave one lasting legacy – he named the island ‘Dominica’ after the Spanish word for Sunday, the day on which he first reached the island.

Before the Europeans, the island was inhabited by various peoples who came over from the American continent, of whom the best known were the Kalinago, whom the Europeans referred to as Caribs. With rather more appreciation of our island’s uniqueness than Columbus, they called it Waitukubuli – “tall is her body” – an elegant image of this mountainous and fertile land. Dominica is home to the last remaining community of Kalinago in the West Indies, a population of a little over 2,000 living in a 3,700 acre territory on the northwestern side of the island. set aside for them at the beginning of the last century. Anyone interested in discovering something of this less well known side of Caribbean history is recommended to visit the Kalinago Barana Auté, a representation of a pre-Columbian village.

Over the following centuries, Dominica was fought over continually by the English and French colonialists, being at one time or another controlled by either power. Eventually in 1838 the country became the first British Caribbean colony to have a legislature controlled by an African majority, although it was not until 1978 that it gained independence.

These many influences have enriched Dominica’s culture in diverse ways, from the many flavours of our creole-inspired cooking, to our own unique music form Candence-lypso, made famous by bands such as Exile One and celebrated each year along with many other forms of creole music at the World Creole Music Festival, taking place every October in Roseau. Spend a few days in Dominica at any time of year, and discover how the Nature Island is rich in history and culture too.

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