A mountainous and densely-populated overseas department of France, Martinique's French and Creole heritage is mirrored in its customs, food and languages. Tourism flourishes on the tropical Caribbean island, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and is a stopping-off point for cruise ships.
martinique Tourist Attractions
Most Martiniquais have mixed ancestry, being the descendants of 17th century French settlers and slaves brought from Africa to work on plantations. From the late 1970s a lack of jobs prompted large-scale migration to France. But despite a reliance on aid from Paris, high unemployment and a large trade deficit, Martinique has one of the Martinique travel higher standards of living in the region. Nationalist sentiment has sometimes flared, but the prospect of losing economic aid from Paris has tempered public support for independence.
The island has an active volcano, Mount Pelee, which erupted in 1902, razing the town of Saint-Pierre and killing its 30,000 residents. Martinique is the birthplace of the African-French music form "the Beguine", whose influence can be heard in the zouk music of the French West Indies.
Visited by the explorer Christopher Columbus and briefly occupied by the Spanish, Martinique was settled by the French in 1635. Other colonial powers vied for control of the increasingly-prosperous sugar-producing island, and it came under brief periods of English rule in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Tokyo
Status: Overseas department of France
Population: 394,000 (via UN, 2006)
Area: 1,100 sq km (425 sq miles)
Major languages: French (official), Creole
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 75 years (men), 82 years (women)
Monetary unit: euro
Main exports: Bananas, petroleum products, rum
GNI per capita: US$14,727 (UN, 2003)
Internet domain: .mq
International dialling code: +596
(Martinique map) Please mouse click on the thumbnail photos below to see an enlargement
LHead of state: (French) President Nicolas Sarkozy Martinique is governed as an overseas department of France; Paris is represented by an appointed prefect. The territory has an Martinique Tourist Attractions elected legislative council and is represented in the National Assembly and Senate in Paris.