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Martinique fwi

Martinique, the flower island

Martinique is full of sensational landscapes, between paradise beaches with white or black sand and invigorating rivers, arid hiking trails, and lush vegetation barely letting the sun filter, cities that sweat from a past rich in history, and mountain ensuring that it never goes out.

It is also a cultural destination. With its various rums and its heritage linked to the colonization, the little-known tradition of the Bèlè, the traditional and epic “Tour de la Martinique des Yoles rondes” which reminds us that it is an island of sailors, its various festivals that bring people together, its markets whose scents confirm extremely rich gastronomy and a conviviality characteristic of Martinique.

The gastronomy of Martinique is varied and serves as a witness to the history of the island and its inhabitants, with Caribbean influences (such as chicken buccaneers), European, African (brought by slaves), and Indians (from Indian immigration), always adapted to the products of the island.

It is also known for the musical genre called Zouk, but there are other traditional kinds of music such as biguine, mazurka, or Creole waltz, or other genres that are becoming more and more famous such as reggae and dancehall.

Behind the postcards are the complex and exciting historical and social realities that make Martinique past and present.

Good to know

Here are some basic facts to know about Martinique






363 500 (2019)

Spoken languages

French, martinican creole




1128 km²

A little bit of history

The first inhabitants were the Arawak Indians, who had to flee, from the 18th century, in front of newcomers, the Kalinago. Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot in Martinique on June 15, 1502, during his fourth voyage to the “Indias”. However, it had already been discovered (without stopping) by Alonso de Ojeda during his expedition of 1499-1500. It can be found on the map of Alberto Cantino (1502) under the name of Ioüanacéra or Joanacaera (formed from the prefix Ioüana – iguana and the suffix cera  – island) i.e. the island of iguanas, in the Caribbean language.

After landing in Martinique in 1502, Christopher Columbus did not take “possession” of the island, which continued to be ruled by indigenous peoples. The first French colony was established in 1635 by Pierre Belain d’Esnambuc.

Slavery was developed there from the mid-17th century to provide free labor to cane planters.

Thousands of black slaves were brought mainly from West Africa. Apart from a short period of abolition during the French Revolution (abolition was not applied in Martinique following the Treaty of Whitehall signed between the British and the settlers, maintaining slavery and placing the island under English rule from 1794), slavery remained legal in France until after the fall of the July monarchy in February 1848. 74,447 Martinican slaves will thus be “liberated” against 425 francs per slave (approximately 1,100 euros) for the planters.

In Martinique, the abolition of slavery came into force on 23 May 1848 following the riots of 22 May (the date of commemoration of abolition in Martinique).

Colonization followed the regime of slavery, until March 19, 1946, when the island became a French overseas department.

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