The island of Martinique in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea is the overseas territorial collectivity of the French Republic. Here are some fascinating facts about this comparatively less-trodden gem!
#1: Located within the West Indies, Martinique is one of Lesser Antilles’ Windward Islands surrounded by St. Lucia to the north, Barbados to the northwest, and Dominica to the south.
#2: Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1502. At that time, the island was called ‘Madiana’ (island of flowers) by the local Caribs who resided there. ‘Martinique’ may perhaps be the corruption of that name.
#3: Fort-de-France is Martinique’s capital. Situated on the island’s west coast, it enjoys a tropical rainforest climate – hot and humid all round the year – making it one of the best tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
#4: One of the smallest French overseas territories, Martinique is one of the most densely populated islands in the Antilles.
#5: Martinique’s official language is French, but almost every resident of the island also speaks Martinican Creole.
A volcanic eruption literally destroyed it entirely in 1902, after which the focus shifted to Fort-de-France.
#6: The town and commune of Saint-Pierre, a.k.a. "the Paris of the Caribbean", was an important cultural and economic center of Martinique till 1902.
#7: Though sugarcane is one of the main crops of Martinique, there is only one sugar refinery left on the island.
The sugar refinery of Galion in Trinité, located to the northeast of the island, not only produced brown sugar, but also a rum called Grand Arôme.
#8: The mangrove of Martinique covers almost 6% of the island’s total forest area. The mangrove forest prevents erosion of the coast and protects corals too.
#9: About two-third of the island’s area, 32 of 34 Martinican towns, are considered as a natural park. This is a protected area that helps preserve landscapes while promoting tourism.
#10: Martinican Agricole rum is the world’s only rum with an AOC label. Made from cane juice, this agricultural rum is different from other industrial rums made from molasses or sugar residue.
#11: Martinique boasts numerous black sand beaches, especially around the its northwest side. The black color of the sand results from these beaches’ volcanic origins.
#12: While in Martinique, don’t miss trying out the island’s local cuisine. Some famous dishes include Accra, a fritter made from salt fish, prawns or vegetables and Lambis, a large sea snail, which is a local delicacy.