Famed for its natural beauty, Dominica boasts a fascinating cultural mix that draws on African, Carib, English and French influences. The island hosts a range of vibrant celebrations from Carnival to the World Creole Music Festival. It also marks its independence day – November 3 – with extended festivities each year.
Originally home to Carib Indians, Dominica was colonised by the French from the 1690s then seized by the British in 1793. The island gained independence in 1978. Dominica is now the only Caribbean island with a surviving population of pre-Columbian Carib Indians. The island's diverse heritage is reflected in the place names and colonial architecture.
African languages, foods and traditions have blended with European customs to create the island's Creole culture.
With African and French roots, Dominica's carnival, or Mas Dominik, is the most original carnival in the Caribbean.
Special Carnival music, chanté mas, is performed by masquerading revellers during parades.
Taking place before the start of Lent, Carnival involves two days of 'jump-up' in the streets of the capital Roseau and outlying towns and villages. There are parades, soca concerts, steel pan music, feasts, pageants and parties throughout the island.
The World Creole Music Festival Dominica's World Creole Music Festival (WCMF) has been running 20 years and attracts leading performers and music fans from all over the world.
The finale to Creole Heritage Month in October, WCFM showcases the musical talent coming out of the Caribbean, Africa and North America and has hosted Creole stars such as Kassav', Tabou Combo and Exile One.
Launched in 2010, the Jazz 'n Creole Festival offers a heady mix of jazz with creole music, food and culture.
The one-day family event at Fort Shirley in the Cabrits National Park has featured renowned local and international artists such as Alfredo de la Fe, Arturo Tappin and Barbara Cadet.
Dominicans celebrate their unique heritage and Creole culture with colourful events such as Heritage Day, which takes place in a different village each year and sees awards given to outstanding individuals in the community. Creole Day is celebrated island-wide with everyone donning traditional Dominican dress.
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