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What Should I Know About Dominica?

Dominica's straw markets usually open on Tuesday to coincide with the docking of cruise ships.
Dominica is popular with divers because of the many deep drop off points off its shore.
A portrait of Christopher Columbus, the explorer who gave Dominica its current name.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2014
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The Commonwealth of Dominica is a Caribbean island. Though sometimes confused with the Dominican Republic, it is an entirely separate nation. Dominica's Latin translation is Sunday, which is the day on which Christopher Columbus arrived on the island. Dominica is not the island's first name. It was named Wai'tu kubuli before the arrival of Columbus, meaning, in Carib, "tall is her body."

Dominica enjoys a position along the Eastern Caribbean archipelago. It is located not more than a few miles from Guadeloupe and Martinique. The island spans roughly 290 square miles (466.7 square kilometers) and is home to more than 70,000 people. A large portion of the island's population is concentrated in the capital city of Roseau. Although English is its official language, many of its people speak Kwèyòl (Creole), with some speaking Kokoy.

Dominica has long been heralded as a place teeming with unspoiled beauty. Most of the island is covered with tropical forests, providing a home to over 1,000 different species of plants, as well as many rare and exotic animal and bird species. As far as water is concerned, the island has it in abundance, including rivers and lakes, as well as streams. The island also has its fair share of waterfalls, which are said to be kept flowing by the high amount of rainfall the island sees each year. It is often described as an unfinished island, as geothermal-volcanic movement continues to form it.

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The economy of Dominica is largely focused on tourism. However, the island's tourism base is not as developed as that of other Caribbean islands. It lacks a concentration of well-known chain hotels. For some visitors, however, that lack is exactly what makes it special. Agriculture plays a large part in Dominica's economy as well.

For visitors to Dominica, there are a few famous spots that tourists recommend visiting. The Indian River in Portsmouth is a popular tourist destination, as is the Emerald Pool. Trafalgar Falls is another scene of natural beauty. The location at which the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea, called Scott's Head, is yet another tourist attraction. Many are said to visit just to see the island's boiling lake, located within Morne Trois Pitons National Park; it is the largest boiling lake in the entire world.

Divers may find Dominica particularly enticing, as the island is home to many popular diving spots. It features a number of deep drop-off points, as well as a rich and varied selection of marine life. Many tourists also spend time in Dominica straw markets. They open up on Tuesdays in conjunction with the docking of cruise ships. Locals operate the straw markets, which are positioned right in front of the pier.

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