Dominica celebrates its Independence Day every 3 November, commemorating the day in 1978 when it gained complete autonomy from the UK. This was exactly 485 years to the day from the discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus in 1493.
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After early Arawak settlement, the Caribs invaded and ousted the Arawak in the 1300’s. The fierce resistance of the Carib people and the lack of any rumour of gold on the island kept the Spanish from attempting a settlement.
The French and English became interested in Dominica in the 1600’s, but they left it to the Caribs and both agreed by treaty not to settle it. In the 1700’s, however both sides made “timber raids” on the island to harvest its rich store of lumber. Beginning in 1690, and at accelerated pace after 1715, France began to colonise Dominica.
In 1761, the English conquered Dominica as part of the Seven Years’ War. The French made several attempts to retake it but never could.
In 1961, an independence movement arose in Dominica. In 1968, the island gained self-rule within the British Empire, and on 3 November 1978, gained full autonomy.
On and around 3 November, there are numerous celebrations and special events all over Dominica. For example, there are culture fests with food, song, and dance, a beauty pageant, a bull fight, a focus on the special heritage of a different village each year, outdoor markets, an emphasis on creole culture, and more.
The celebrations are so big, in fact, that 4 November has been designated Community Service Day in Dominica so the massive mess made on 3 November can be cleaned up!