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Dominica, The Land and People

Morne Diablotins, Boiling Lake, chief port, destructive hurricanes, environmental disasters

Dominica is volcanic in origin and has a mountainous terrain, with several peaks rising above 1,220 m (4,000 ft); the highest point is Morne Diablotins (1,447 m/4,747 ft). The island has a tropical climate with an average annual temperature of about 27°C (about 80°F). The annual rainfall is considerable, ranging from about 1,780 mm (about 70 in) on the coast to more than three times that figure in the mountains. The island has many small, unnavigable rivers; Boiling Lake, from which sulfurous gases frequently arise, is located in the south. Luxuriant forests cover the mountains. The country’s high annual rainfall contributes to the rich and fertile forests. The government promotes sustainable management of these forests to help protect the island’s biodiversity.

According to the United Nations (UN) index that compares national income with the cost of damage caused by environmental disasters, Dominica is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. This is mainly due to the island’s susceptibility to destructive hurricanes, especially during the late summer months.

Dominica has a total population of 70,158 (2002 estimate). More than 90 percent of the inhabitants are black, descendants of slaves brought from Africa in the 18th century. A small number of Carib also live on the island. English is the official language, but a French patois is widely spoken. Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion. Roseau (population, 1995 estimate, 21,000) is the capital and chief port.

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