Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean, south of Dominica and north of St. Lucia, part of the group of islands known as the West Indies or lesser Antilles. It is also called “L’Ile aux Fleurs” (the island of flowers) because of its lush and colorful vegetation. The highest of the island’s many mountains, at 1,397 metres (4,583 ft), is the famous volcano Mont Pelée. Its volcanic ash has created gray and black sand beaches in the north, contrasting markedly from the white sands of Les Salines in the south.
Martinique is an overseas department of France, so its inhabitants are French citizens with full political and legal rights. Martinique sends four deputies to the French National Assembly and two senators to the French Senate.
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). Its capital is Fort-de-France.
Martinique’s population (approximately 400,000 inhabitants) is made up of various ethnic groups. After the Arawak and Carib Indians, French colonists settled on the island. Next came slaves from the Benin Coast of Africa, and after the slaves were freed, Chinese and Indians (Tamil) came to work in the fields. The largest group of people those of mixed blood, referred to as Creole.
Today, the island enjoys a higher standard of living than most other Caribbean countries. French products are easily available. Studying in the métropole (mainland France) is common for young adults. Martinique attracts many vacationers, especially from France.