The economy is based on agriculture and, above all, on tourism and services. The GDP, which in 2008 was US $ 364 million (with a per capita GDP of US $ 5,082) is made up for over half by the tertiary sector. § Agriculture, subject to natural disasters (in particular hurricanes) is based in particular on the cultivation of bananas, largely exported. Due to the pressure of some large multinationals, the World Trade Organization has taken a stand against the trade preferences that Europe accords to bananas from Caribbean countries, causing a drop in demand. Many farmers have thus been tempted to convert the plantations into marijuana and coca crops. In addition to bananas, citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruits, etc.), tropical fruit, sugar cane, various vegetables and coconut palms are cultivated largely for export, which provide copra, edible oil and raw material for the manufacture of soaps; the cassava and other tubers are consumed locally. Livestock activity is modest, while fishing is of greater importance, especially for domestic consumption, which is undergoing modernization and is largely carried out by fishermen’s cooperatives. Finally, not yet fully exploited, but very rich, is the forest heritage. The primary sector, as a whole, occupies more than one fifth of the population.
On the other hand, mineral resources are scarce, in practice limited to pumice deposits. According to allcountrylist, the industries, which are also developing, mainly concern the processing of local agricultural products and include soap factories, fruit and vegetable canneries, rum distilleries, as well as factories for the production of coconut oil, textile products, leather, cement and cigarettes. The secondary and tertiary sectors together employ almost four fifths of the workforce. § There is a lack of railways and internal communications take place on a fair road network (which in 2000 consisted of 780 km, of which 393 were asphalted); main airports are those of Melville Hall and Canefield.
The country exports bananas, soap, oil, vegetables, grapes and citrus fruits, and imports manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, food and chemicals. Main trading partners are China, Great Britain, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, exports and the USA, China, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan and South Korea for imports. The trade balance shows a heavy deficit, which contributes to the significant external debt. § An activity of considerable importance for the national economy is tourism, which is expanding. Dominica receives international aid; moreover, a particular tax regime, which offers privileged conditions, has favored the entry of foreign capital. Offshore financial activities are growing even if, in 2003-2004, the country enacted anti-money laundering regulations to put a stop to financial offenses.
The name Dominica derives from the fact that the island was discovered by Christopher Columbus on Sunday (November 3, 1493). In 1633 it was occupied by French colonists, who introduced the cultivation of coffee, and then of sugar cane, importing African slaves. The British and the French fought for domination of the island, until they decided in 1748 to cede it to the indigenous population of the Caribs. After the naval battle “of the Saintes” (12 April 1782) the territory was definitively assigned to Great Britain with the Treaty of Versailles of 1783. From 1 March 1967 Dominica became an associated state to the United Kingdom, with complete internal autonomy, and on 3 November 1978 an independent state within the Commonwealth. In 1979, harsh opposition to the government, accused of introducing legislation restricting freedom of assembly and the press, popular demonstrations and the establishment of a National Salvation Committee led to the formation of a provisional government charged with holding elections for 1980. July 21, 1980 the first general elections after independence ended with the victory of the conservatives of the Freedom Party (DPF); Mary Eugenia Charles was appointed prime minister, and was therefore reconfirmed in office in 1985 and 1990. The 1980s marked, internally, the implementation of the agrarian reform and, Windward Islands (Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). Dominica is a member of CARICOM (Caribbean Community). The 1995 general elections marked a real turning point in the country’s political life by awarding the victory, after fifteen years of undisputed domination by the Freedom Party (DPF), to the center-left opposition, represented by the Dominican Party of United Workers (UWP): The office of prime minister was taken by UWP leader Edison James. In 1998 Vernon Shaw, of the DPF, was elected president. The general elections of January 2000 saw the electoral defeat of the UWP and the clear victory (42% of the vote) of the Labor Party (LPD), which returned to power after two decades of opposition. Rosie Douglas, leader of the LPD, was named prime minister and formed a government coalition with the DPF. Following Douglas’ sudden disappearance, Interim in the office of the Minister of Communications Pierre Charles, the nephew of the former prime minister, Ian Douglas, candidate of the Labor Party, was elected prime minister.