(Territory of France)
Capital | Fort-De-France
Population | 436,131 (July 2006 est.)
Area | 1,100 SQ KM
Official Language | French, Creole patois
Holidays | Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Currency | euro (EUR)
Time Zone | UTC -4
Best Time to Visit | February to March (early spring)
Connecting with the Culture | Taking in the cosmopolitan society of Fort-De-France, with its blend of French and Creole cultures. Exploring Saint-Pierre’s ruins, caused by the 1902 volcanic eruption. Spending time on the beaches at Les Salines. Cruising the Route de la Trace, a scenic rainforest drive across the mountainous interior.
Read | The Collected Poetry of Aime Cesire, the force behind the Black Pride phenomenon known as ‘negritude’.
Listen | to Shades of Black by zouk band Kassav’
Watch | Sugar Cane Alley, by Euzhan Palcy, documenting the love and sacrifice of a poor black family living on a sugar plantation in Martinique in the 1930’s
Eat | accras (fish fritters) or delicious French pastries
Drink | ti-punch (a mixture of white rum, sugarcane juice and a squeeze of lemon) or the local beer, Lorraine
In a Word | Bonjour (hello)
Characteristics | French food, lush mountains, volcano, sugar plantations, zouk music
Surprises | Josephine Bonaparte was born in Martinique. Paul Gauguin spent five months on Martinique in 1887. Nearly one-third of the island is forested. Colonized by France in 1635, the island has subsequently remained a French possession except for three brief periods of foreign occupation.