Martinique History

Most visitors to the largest Caribbean Windward Island of Martinique know that there is plenty of French history to soak in during a visit. The culture of Martinique directly descends from that of its mother country of France with plenty of other influences as well. Martinique facts state that the island is a legal region of France where the Euro is the legal currency and French Creole influences run deep. Much like many regions in the world, Martinique was first settled by Indian tribes who settled their families here and utilized the land for survival. In the history of Martinique, dating back to 1502, Columbus was the first European, following behind the native Indian tribes, to discover the beautiful island. No one other than Columbus or the tribes set foot on Martinique until in 1632.

Two centuries after Columbus's discovery, Martinique facts show that French colonies were settled throughout the area. Looking back at Martinique history, slavery became a part of every day life after the French colonies were established. When the French colonies began arriving, the island was replete with Carib Indians, originally from the Venezuelan coast. Martinique facts indicate the Indians had named the island Madinina, which is interpreted as meaning Island of Flowers in the Indians' native Caribbean tongue. Those studying Martinique history argue that the name is one taken from Saint Martin, while others still argue that the Martinique comes from the original name of Madinina.

Martinique history also shows the island becoming a leading colony of the French in the mid-seventeenth century. Many of the colonies struck it rich cultivating sugarcane and shipping it over to mainland Europe. These facts led to the French government's demand that the island trade only with France. Eventually the governor was replaced by force by the island's people. The new governor, conceding to the trade demands, agreed to overlook trade with nations other than France. Meanwhile the sugar business on the island boomed and slaves from Africa were imported to work the plantations.

The year of 1848 in the history of Martinique saw slavery abolished and thousands of immigrants reached the island from India and the surrounding area for work on the island's plantations substituting the once thriving slave labor. Martinique became the most precious of all French colonies during the eighteenth century when the sugar exports reached a major peak. Due to the boom in sugar, the island became one fought over by the British and the island saw a change of hands in official ownership several times over the passing years. Several small wars, violent events, and other strife saw a number of periodic takeovers yet in the end Martinique was retrieved and kept by the French. Some economic and political autonomy was granted to Martinique, French Guinea, and Guadeloupe in 1974 following strife and a political revolution. Guadeloupe and Martinique officially became part of the French Antilles in 1946.

The culture of Martinique exhibits a definitive French flavor, with St Pierre known as the Paris of the French Antilles until the eruption of Mt Pelee, but several other important influences create the fascinating medley of culture on the island. Creole is the second most dominant influence in the culture of Martinique. A mÉlange of languages, including Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean, Creole was born from numerous dialects and is spoken all around the West Indies. Finding plenty of times and ways to celebrate, there are many annual festivities and events hosted by islanders, most including heady Caribbean tunes, an abundance of tantalizing dishes celebrations of races, arts, culture, and much more.

Martinique facts of daily life include celebrating the best of food and music as often as possible. Most locals attend all island celebration with vigor and high spirits. The most popular celebration is Carnival, also known as Vaval on Martinique, kicking off each year in the first week of February. This one-of-a-kind culture blended with terrific sights, beaches, dining, and shopping offers many exciting things to do during any Caribbean vacation.

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