Martinique is an overseas département (département
d'outre-mer, or DOM) of France, located in the Caribbean Sea.
Like the other DOMs, Martinique is also a région (région
d'outre-mer) of France.
Colonized by France in 1635, the Carib Expulsion occurred
in 1660 when the island's indigenous peoples were deported
and banned from returning by the French occupying forces.
The island has subsequently remained a French possession except
for three brief periods of foreign occupation.
From 1635 (arrival of Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc,
a French aristocrat who took possession of the island for
France) to 1946, Martinique lived as a French colony producing
tropical trade goods such as cane sugar, coffee, rum or cocoa.
African captives were brought from West Africa to form the
slave population who is at the origin of most of today's population.
Martinique was the birthplace of Empress Josephine, wife
of Napoleon Bonaparte. She was the daughter of white slave-owning
aristocrats. The remnants of her parent's plantation, La Pagerie,
can still be seen at Les Trois Ilets, across the bay from
On May 8, 1902 Mount Pelée, a volcano on the island
erupted, destroying the town of St. Pierre killing over 30,000
people. Only one resident survived the blast a prisoner
by the name of Ludger Sylbaris, who was protected by the thick
walls of his prison cell.
Martinique became an overseas département of France
on March 19, 1946. This means it is treated equally to every
other département in France and has full representation
in the National Assembly and Senate.
Martinique is especially well known for the number of great
authors that have come from the island and become extremely
famous in France and throughout the world. It has also become
known for a form of music called zouk, which developed in