Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook
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This colorful island in the Lesser Antilles is a favorite playground of the French. Martinique is well known for its excellent French cuisine and music. The Mont Pelée volcano towers over the island's enchanting white-sand beaches, tropical rainforests, and winding rivers.
AMBIENCE IN MARTINIQUE
Martinique has ambience in spades. The feel here is very cosmopolitan, with fine French restaurants all over the island and fancy French stores selling the finest china and haute fashion, and other luxury goods. Fort-de-France, the island's largest city, is filled with elegant architecture and enchanting shopping streets. Beyond civilization, this volcanic island is lush and tropical, with heavy rainforests on the northern end of the island and sandy beaches on the southern end of the island.
HISTORY OF MARTINIQUE
Madinina, as it was known to the native Carib Indians, means "island of flowers." The island was inhabited solely by the Caribs when Christopher Columbus spotted it in 1502. It escaped much attention until 1635, when French colonists arrived from St. Kitts and eventually wiped out the indigenous people. Thus began its rise in popularity with Europeans, as its fertile, volcanic soil proved excellent for growing sugar cane. By the 1650s, Martinique (which was probably named after the saint) was the leading French Caribbean colony, rich from its export of sugar. African slaves were brought in to work the plantations, contributing to the island's valuable economy. The British, attracted by the wealth generated on the island, attempted to take Martinique in the 18th century. The island changed hands several times, either as the result of war or as a bargaining chip. Eventually, a Martinique native lead the charge to abolish slavery, which ended in 1848. After the slaves were freed, 10,000 immigrants from India arrived to work on the plantations and Martinique continued to export sugar. This all ended in 1902, when Mount Pelé erupted and totally destroyed the capital of Sainte Pierre. The volcano killed nearly 30,000 people and it took many years for the island to recover. In 1940, Fort-de-France became the capital. Ownership of the island transferred back to France after the Napoleonic Wars, where it remains today.
FACTS ABOUT MARTINIQUE
Top Photo Slice: Ferry Pier in Martinique (℗ 53435) Photo contributed by © Jennifer Marx
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