Dominica (/ˌdɒmɪˈniːkə/ DOM-
Columbus is said to have passed the island on Sunday 3 November 1493. It was later colonised by Europeans, predominantly by the French from the 1690s to 1763. Great Britain took possession in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War, and it gradually established English as its official language. The island republic gained independence in 1978.
Its name is pronounced with emphasis on the third syllable, related to its French name of Dominique. Dominica has been nicknamed the “Nature Isle of the Caribbean” for its natural environment. It is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles, and in fact, it is still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity, as evidenced by the world’s second-largest hot spring, called Boiling Lake. The island has lush mountainous rainforests, and it is the home of many rare plants, animals, and bird species. There are xeric areas in some of the western coastal regions, but heavy rainfall occurs inland. The Sisserou parrot, also known as the imperial amazon and found only on Dominica, is the island’s national bird and featured on the national flag, which is one of only two national flags containing the color purple (the other being Nicaragua).