Languages
Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Wednesday, 29 August 2012 11:47 UK

Regions and territories: Martinique

Map of Martinique

A mountainous and densely-populated overseas department of France, Martinique's French and Creole heritage is mirrored in its customs, food and languages.

Tourism flourishes on the tropical Caribbean island, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and is a stopping-off point for cruise ships.

Overview

Most Martiniquais have mixed ancestry, being the descendants of 17th century French settlers and slaves brought from Africa to work on plantations.

From the late 1970s a lack of jobs prompted large-scale migration to France. But despite a reliance on aid from Paris, high unemployment and a large trade deficit, Martinique has one of the higher standards of living in the region.

Nationalist sentiment has sometimes flared, but the prospect of losing economic aid from Paris has tempered public support for independence. Voters rejected greater autonomy in a referendum in January 2010, with 80% voting against on a turnout of 55%.

Serious protests at rising prices and persistent unemployment flared early in 2009 on Martinique and other French Carribean islands, prompting the French government to negotiate more aid and the promise of constitutional reform.

Fort-de-France, Martinique
Fort-de-France: A bustling commercial centre and port

The island has an active volcano, Mount Pelee, which erupted in 1902, razing the town of Saint-Pierre and killing its 30,000 residents.

Martinique is the birthplace of the African-French music form "the Beguine", whose influence can be heard in the zouk music of the French West Indies.

Visited by the explorer Christopher Columbus and briefly occupied by the Spanish, Martinique was settled by the French in 1635.

Other colonial powers vied for control of the increasingly-prosperous sugar-producing island, and it came under brief periods of English rule in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Facts

  • Territory: Martinique
  • Status: Overseas department of France
  • Population: 407,000 (UN, 2008)
  • Capital: Fort-de-France
  • Area: 1,100 sq km (425 sq miles)
  • Major languages: French (official), Creole
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 77 years (men), 84 years (women)
  • Monetary unit: euro
  • Main exports: Bananas, petroleum products, rum
  • GNI per capita: US$14,727 (UN, 2003)
  • Internet domain: .mq
  • International dialling code: +596

Leaders

Head of state: the President of France

Martinique is governed as an overseas department of France; Paris is represented by an appointed prefect. The territory has an elected legislative council and is represented in the National Assembly and Senate in Paris.

Media

TV and radio services are provided by the French public overseas broadcaster, RFO, and by private operators.

Television

Radio



Print Sponsor



A GUIDE TO THE AMERICAS

 

 

Compiled by BBC Monitoring

SEE ALSO
Overseas French reject autonomy
11 Jan 10 |  Americas
Sarkozy steps in to end protests
20 Feb 09 |  Europe

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific