Martinique: History, Culture and Economy

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File:Flag of Martinique.svgMartinique (French pronunciation: [maʁtinik]) is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 km2 (436 sq mi). Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department.

To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados. As with the other overseas departments, Martinique is one of the twenty-six regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the Republic. The Island was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502.

As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais). Martinique is pictured on all euro banknotes, on the reverse at the bottom of each note, right of the Greek ΕΥΡΩ (EURO) next to the denomination.

As an overseas département of France, Martinique’s culture blends French and Caribbean influences. The city of Saint-Pierre (destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Mount Pelée), was often referred to as the “Paris of the Lesser Antilles”. Following traditional French custom, many businesses close at midday to allow a lengthy lunch, then reopen later in the afternoon.

Many Martinicans speak Martiniquan Creole, a subdivision of Antillean Creole that is virtually identical to the varieties spoken in neighboring English-speaking islands of Saint Lucia and Dominica. Martinique’s Creole is based on French and African languages with elements of English, Spanish, and Portuguese. It continues to be used in oral storytelling traditions and other forms of speech and to a lesser extent in writing. Its use is predominant among friends and close family.

Though it is normally not used in professional situations, members of the media and politicians have begun to use it more frequently as a way to redeem national identity and prevent cultural assimilation by mainland France. For the most part, the local Creole is intelligible to speakers of Standard French, as it has lost some of its distinct dialectal qualities.

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Notes from Wikipedia

Victoria Levy
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