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Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Seamarker, with a land area of . It is an overseas department of Francemarker. To the northwest lies Dominicamarker, to the south St Luciamarker, and to the southeast Barbadosmarker. As with the other overseas departments, Martinique is one of the twenty-six regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the Republic. As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais) and Modern English. Martinique is pictured on all euro banknotes, on the reverse at the bottom of each note, right of the Greek ΕΥΡΩ (EURO) next to the denomination.

Geography

Map of Martinique


Politics

The inhabitants of Martinique are Frenchmarker citizens with full political and legal rights.Martinique sends four deputies to the French National Assembly and two senators to the French Senatemarker.

History

Subdivisions

Martinique is divided into four arrondissements, 34 communes, and 45 cantons.

Environment

Tropical forest near Fond St-Denis
Les Salines, wide sand beach at the southern end of the island
The north of the island is mountainous and lushly forested. It features four ensembles of pitons (volcanoes) and mornes (mountains): the Piton Conil on the extreme North, which dominates the Dominica Channel; Mount Pelee, an active volcano; the Morne Jacob; and the Pitons du Carbet, an ensemble of five extinct volcanoes covered with rainforest and dominating the Bay of Fort de France at 1,196 meters. The highest of the island's many mountains, at 1397 meters, is the famous volcano Mount Peléemarker. Its volcanic ash has created gray and black sand beaches in the north (in particular between Anse Ceron and Anse des Gallets), contrasting markedly from the white sands of Les Salines in the south.

The south is more easily traversed, though it still features some impressive geographic features. Because it is easier to travel and because of the many beaches and food facilities throughout this region, the south receives the bulk of the tourist traffic. The beaches from Pointe de Bout, through Diamant (which features right off the coast of Roche de Diamant), St. Luce, the town of St. Anne and down to Les Salines are popular.

Demographics

Historical population

Historical population
1700
estimate
1738
estimate
1848
estimate
1869
estimate
1873
estimate
1878
estimate
1883
estimate
1888
estimate
1893
estimate
1900
estimate
24,000 74,000 120,400 152,925 157,805 162,861 167,119 175,863 189,599 203,781
1954
census
1961
census
1967
census
1974
census
1982
census
1990
census
1999
census
2006
census
2007
estimate
2008
estimate
239,130 292,062 320,030 324,832 328,566 359,572 381,427 397,732 400,000 402,000
Official figures from past censuses and INSEE estimates.


Culture

Martinique dancers in traditional costume.
As an overseas département of Francemarker, Martinique's culture blends French and Caribbeanmarker influences. The city of Saint-Pierre (destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Mount Peléemarker), was often referred to as the "Parismarker of the Lesser Antilles". Following traditional French custom, many businesses close at midday to allow a lengthy lunch, then reopen later in the afternoon. The official language is French. Many Martinicans speak Martinican Creole, a subdivision of Antillean Creole that is virtually identical to the varieties spoken in neighboring English-speaking islands of Saint Lucia and Dominica. Mostly based on French and African languages, Martinique's Creole also incorporates elements of English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Used among natives in oral storytelling traditions, it continues to be used more often in speech than in writing. Its use is predominant among friends and close family. Though it is normally not used in professional situations, members of the media and politicians have begun to use it more frequently as a way to redeem national identity and prevent cultural assimilation by mainland France. For the most part, the local Creole is intelligible to speakers of Standard French, as it has lost some of its distinct dialectal qualities.

Most of Martinique's population is descended from enslaved Africans brought to work on sugar plantations during the colonial era, generally mixed with some French, Amerindian(Carib people), Indian (Tamil), Lebanese or Chinese elements. Between 5 to 10% of the population is of Eastern Indian (Tamil) origin. The island also boasts a small Syromarker-Lebanese community, a small but increasing Chinese community, and the Béké community, descendants of European ethnic groups of the first French and British settlers, who still dominate parts of the agricultural and trade sectors of the economy. Whites represent 5% of the population. The Béké people (which totals around 5,000 people in the island, most of them of aristocratic origin by birth or after buying the title) generally live in mansions on the Atlantic coast of the island (mostly in the François - Cap Est district). In addition to the island population, the island hosts a metropolitan French community, most of which lives on the island on a temporary basis (generally from 3 to 5 years).

There are an estimated 260,000 people of Martinican origin living in mainland France, most of them in the Paris region.

Today, the island enjoys a higher standard of living than most other Caribbean countries. The finest French products are easily available, from Chanel fashions to Limogesmarker porcelain. Studying in the métropole (mainland France, especially Paris) is common for young adults. Martinique has been a vacation hotspot for many years, attracting French of both upper-class and more budget-conscious travelers.

Martinique has a hybrid cuisine, mixing elements of African, French, and Southeast Asian traditions. One of its most famous dishes is the Colombo, a unique curry of chicken (curry chicken), meat or fish with vegetables, spiced with a distinctive masala of Tamil origins, sparked with tamarind, and often containing wine, coconut milk, and rum. A strong tradition of créole desserts and cakes incorporate pineapple, rum, and a wide range of local ingredients.

In popular culture



Miscellaneous topics

Les Anses d'Arlet


See also



References

  1. Martinique: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA


External links

Government
General information
Travel



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