Dubbed as “The Nature Island,” Dominica is one of the best-kept secrets of the Caribbean. It is beloved by tourists, particularly nature-lovers, for its glistening waters, verdant rainforests, rushing rivers, towering mountains, steamy hot springs, and a laid-back island lifestyle that can only be genuinely experienced in the region.
Officially known as the Commonwealth of Dominica, the country rests at the bosom of the Eastern Caribbean archipelago, between Guadeloupe and Martinique. It is also one of several Caribbean countries that offer citizenship by investment.
Although it is a popular destination with an average of 200,000 tourist visitors each year8, there are plenty of things you probably have yet to learn about this remarkable country. Here we present eight things that most people don’t know about Dominica.
- It’s not the Dominican Republic.
Many mistake the Caribbean Nature Island as the Dominican Republic. In fact, when people say or hear the word “Dominica,” most would think that it pertains to the Dominican Republic, not the Commonwealth of Dominica.
While both are located in the Caribbean region, the two similarly named countries are definitely not one and the same. While the Republic is a territory that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti in the West, the Commonwealth nation is an island in itself and is 600 miles away from its namesake and is an unspoilt, paradise island .
- People in Dominica speak English.
Enjoying independence since 1978, Dominica is a country that uses English as its official language. Of course, there are always Dominican natives speaking Creole – a language born from African, Kalinago, and French – because of its colonial past.
Dominican Creole is an Antillean version of the language derived from French. Some people in the country also speak French Patois because of the long French migration history to the island. This can also be attributed to its location between two French-speaking countries (Guadeloupe and Martinique.
- Dominica is home to nine volcanoes.
While other Caribbean islands are most famous for their beaches and crystalline waters, Dominica is quite popular for its volcanoes. In fact, the island has an unbroken chain of volcanic centers, from the south to the north, namely:
- Morne Patates
- Morne Plat Pays
- Morne Anglais
- Grande Soufriere
- Morne Watt
- Morne Micotrin
- Morne Trois Pitons
- Morne Diablotins
- Morne Au Diable
Morne Diablotins situated along the north-central part of the country is particularly breathtaking. It is lauded as the highest mountain in Dominica and second tallest in the Lesser Antilles.
When visiting the Morne Diablotins, you need to hike for roughly six hours through an arduous path. But it will all be worth it because you’ll get to wander around the beautiful Dominican rainforest with hundreds of different plant and animal species.
- The capital city of Roseau houses black-sand beaches.
Roseau, the capital city of Dominica, has plenty of beaches surrounding it. But unlike other islands in the Caribbean, many beaches in the country have black sand beaches due to the number of volcanoes surrounding it.
Out of all the beaches, Mero Beach is quite popular, thanks to its silvery-grey sand. It is also home to many restaurants offering specialized sea-fresh dishes and rum punch.
Other great beaches to visit when in Roseau are Rosalie Bay, Number One Beach, and Purple Turtle. You can also check out nearby sulfur pools in Wotten Waven, a small town in Dominica.
- Dominica houses the world’s second-largest boiling lake.
Another result of the volcanic chain all over the island of Dominica is the Boiling Lake. Dubbed as the second biggest of its kind in the world, the lake discovered in 1870 is actually a flooded fumarole nestled at the heart of a volcanic crater. What’s interesting about this lake is that the water changes color, depending on the current volcanic activity in the locality.
To reach the Boiling Lake, you’ll have to go through a five-and-a-half-mile trail, which would also lead to the Valley of Desolation filled with wild vegetation. You need to be ready, though, as the stroll will not be easy and may last six hours on a roundtrip.
- Dominica has 365 rivers.
If Antigua is known to have 365 beaches, Dominica is believed to have the same number of rivers – one to visit for every day of the year. In 2010, the World Rivers Day Committee even initiated a contest to name all the rivers in the country to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of World Rivers Day.
- Dominica is one of the top five countries offering citizenship by investment programs in the region.
After being introduced in 1993, the Dominican citizenship by investment (CBI) program has grown into one of the most cost-effective and attractive CBI programs in the entire Caribbean region.
As one of the first CBI adopters, Dominica was able to come up with a program that offers foreign investors the opportunity to acquire a second passport from the country in two ways:
- A one-time contribution to the Economic Diversification Fund worth at least $100,000
- A minimum investment of $200,000 in a government-sanctioned real estate, held for at least three years.
Aside from the actual investment amount, Dominica citizenship by investment applicants are also required to pay due diligence fees worth $7,500 for the primary applicant and his or her spouse, and $4,000 for each dependent older than 16 years of age, plus other processing and passport fees. Newly announced in summer 2020, the government now allows applicants not only to include their spouse, children and parents, but also their siblings.
The relatively reasonable cost is well worth it considering the perks a Dominican passport can offer. Aside from providing affordable investment options compared to other CBI programs in the Caribbean, Dominica also takes pride in swift and flexible application processing. The passport itself can also help economic citizens gain access to more than 100 countries, visa-free, and is a lifetime asset for economic citizens.
- Dominica is still home to indigenous people.
Although there are plenty of ex-pat communities in the country, Dominica still houses many indigenous people. Living on the island are natives of the Lesser and Greater Antilles – people were considered the first inhabitants of Island Caribs.
Known as the Kalinago people today, these people were the ones who gave Dominica its native name Wait’tukubuli, which translates to “tall is her body.” The country is home to 3,000 Kalinago people, which is the biggest native population in the entire Caribbean.
Many of the Kalinago live in the Kalinago Territory, which features a model of the village called Kalinago Barana Aute. When visiting, remember to observe the utmost respect while observing their traditional rituals, festivals, and dances. Handcrafted souvenirs are also available for sale for tourists to commemorate their trip.
As one of the most interesting islands in the Caribbean, Dominica offers great sights and experiences. It is an island country like many others in the region, but it is also not quite the same as other islands encountered on a cruise or a vacation tour. The facts listed in this article are just the tip of the iceberg that makes the Commonwealth of Dominica worth visiting.
Kal Kennard is a Partner at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship, residency and investment into the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Based in the Caribbean for the past 15 years, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.