Languages spoken: French and Creole
Religion : Roman Catholic (85%), Protestant (10.5%), Muslim (0.5%), Hindu (0.5%) and others (3.5%) are the religions practiced in Martinique.
Head of state: Francois Hollande, representative of the president is Alfred Marie Jeanne – President of Executive Council
National Dish: Accras (fish fritters)
Brief history of the Island:
Carib Indians inhabited the island at the time Christopher Columbus sighted it in 1493. It was not until 1502, on his fourth voyage, that he visited the island, leaving some pigs and goats there. Neglected by the Spaniards, who sought more material rewards than those the island offered, Martinique was occupied in 1635 by a Frenchman, Pierre Bélain, sieur (lord) d’Esnambuc, who established 80 settlers at Fort-Saint-Pierre at the mouth of the Roxelane River. A year later d’Esnambuc, who had fallen ill, entrusted Martinique to his nephew, Jacques-Dyel du Parquet, who bought the island from the Compagnie des Îles d’Amérique and developed it into a remarkably prosperous colony. In 1654 a group of 250 Dutch Jews, whom Portuguese forces had ousted from Brazil, introduced sugarcane. Cotton was another early introduction. About 1660 the first cacao (the source of chocolate) plantation was established.
In 1658 the French king, Louis XIV, resumed sovereignty over the island and paid an indemnity to du Parquet’s children. In 1664 the island was placed under the authority of the Compagnie des Indes Occidentales (West Indies Company);
At various times Martinique was attacked by foreign fleets. An attack by the Dutch was repulsed in 1674; further assaults by the British were repelled in 1693 and 1759. In 1762, however, the British captured the island, only to return it to France under the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.
Following the abolition of slavery in 1848, plantation owners imported workers from India and China in order to avoid paying high labour costs.
In 1902 the volcanic eruption of Mount Pelée destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre, killing about 30,000 people. During World War II Martinique adhered to the Vichy government of Nazi-occupied France for three years before rallying to the Free French cause in 1943.
Facts about the Island:
- Martinique is considered to be “a slice of France in the Tropics”
- Martinique is famous for ” Zouk Music” – Famous Band KASSAV
- Martinique is famous for the Islanders wearing Paris fashion, and breakfasting on Croissants
- Martinique is part of the E.U
Famous people from the Island
Josephine Bonaparte was born in Martinique
Paul Gauguin (French Artist) spent 5 months in Martinique in 1987
Frantz Fanon – Black Psychiatrist, Philosopher and Writer born in Martinique.
Brixton has a Mental Health Day Centre called the Fanon Centre
Picture of the Island: