Explored by Columbus in 1493, Dominica was claimed by Britain and France until 1763, when it was formally ceded to Britain. Along with other Windward Isles, it became a self-governing member of the West Indies Associated States in free association with Britain in 1967.
Dissatisfaction with the slow pace of reconstruction after Hurricane David devastated the island in Sept. 1979 brought a landslide victory to Mary Eugenia Charles of the Freedom Party in July 1980. The Freedom Party won again in 1985 and 1990. The opposition United Workers' Party won in June 1995. In 1997, Dominica became the first Caribbean country to participate in the work of Green Globe, aiming to make Dominica a model ecotourism destination. Although the island is poorer than some of its Caribbean neighbors, Dominica has a relatively low crime rate and does not have the extremes of wealth and poverty evident on other islands. Economic austerity measures, including higher taxes, were introduced in 2002. Massive protests followed.
Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-EEK-a) is a mountainous island of volcanic origin of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, south of Guadeloupe and north of Martinique.