Moving to Martinique

Martinique is one of the Windward Islands that are part of the Lesser Antilles, an archipelago in the eastern part of the Caribbean Sea. Having been settled by French colonists as early as 1635, the island has also seen its share of British occupation, but eventually became a French territory, as acknowledged through the 1946 vote of the French National Assembly that established Martinique as one of the Overseas Department of France, part and parcel of the French Republic. As such, its entire land area of 1,128 km2 is considered to be part of the European Union, with its official currency, the Euro, being used there.
Administratively, the island of Martinique, just like that of Guadeloupe, consists of only one department, further subdivided into four arrondissements. It is rather scarcely populated, a 2007 estimate indicating a total of about 403 thousand inhabitants, with an additional 260 thousand people believed to be living in continental France, concentrated mainly in and around Paris.
From a cultural point of view the island of Martinique is a very lively melting-pot that brings together people of several different ethnicities and even dialects, the consequence of its rather turbulent history, which included being used as a place of exile for French Huguenots, several stints of British occupation, and the application of the rather enlightened Black Code, a 1685 law that established certain limitations for slave-owners and certain rights for black people. To this day, most of the population of the island is composed of descendants of African populations brought here forcefully as slaves, with the white population accounting for only 5% of the total number.
Much like the neighbouring islands of St. Lucia, Barbados and Dominica, Martinique has a rather mountainous landscape, with its most impressive peaks concentrated mainly in the north. In fact, the island itself is the result of high volcanic activity that started over 400 thousand years ago. The highest altitude on the island is reached on Mont Pelée, an active volcano that last erupted catastrophically in 1902. While the north is dramatically mountainous and covered by lush rainforests, the south often attracts tourists with the lure of its white sand beaches, numerous facilities that allow visitors to try the local cuisine, as well as an overall ease of travel.

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Author: Bartosz Wietrzyk