French department since 19.03.1946


The French national flag or 'Tricolour' is the national emblem of the French Republic. The three colours represent liberty used by the different French flags of the old regime im pre-Revolutionary France.

General information

Area: island covering 1 080 km2, 80 km long and 39 km wide

Location: 14°40'N 61°W
Situated to the South of Dominica (25 km) and to the North of Saint Lucia (37 km) and 120 km from Guadeloupe.

Highest landmark: Mount Pelée (1 397 m)

'Chef-lieu' (principal place): Fort-de-France: 90 347 hab., main seaport.
Other main communes: Le Lamentin (39 847 hab.), Schoelcher (21 419 hab.)

Population (2010): 399 637 inhhab.

Official language: french

Everyday languages: french, creole.

Currency: Euro

National Day: 14th July

Political regime

Political structure is identical to that of a French department. Latter is admiknistered by a general council, chaired by the departmental president Josette Manin.

Since 1981: French region, administered by a regional council, under current president Serge Letchimy.

Currently underway: establishment of a single collectivity, fusing the powers of the two previous assemblies (department and region).

Deputies: Alfred Marie-Jeanne, Alfred Almont, Louis-Joseph Manscour et Serge Letchimy elected in 2007.

Senators: Maurice Antiste et Serge Larcher elected in 2011.

Brief History

In 1635 when the French colonised Martinique, the island was populated by Amerindians, the Kalinagos . The name of the island comes from the Amerindian 'Martinino.' The wealth of the island developed from plantation agriculture (cacao, coffee, sugar cane) with a labour force made up of slaves originally from Africa. Slavery was abolished in 1848.
Today Martinique is both an overseas French region and department. It is part of the American French Departments in the same way as Guiana and Guadeloupe, and the Martinique region is also designated as one of the outermost region (OMR) of the European Union.

Demographic data

Life expectancy (2009):

Female: 84.3 years
Male: 77.9 years

Literacy rate (2008): 97.7%

Density (2010) 370 hab./km2

Religion: majority Catholic.

Other groups represented: Jehovah's Witness, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Islamist, Jews, Hindous, Rastas, Voodoo.

HDI: 0.880 (2000) (most recent official figure published for the department, INSEE, HDR 2002)

Economic data

GDP (2010): 8.1 billion € (CEROM-INSEE)

GDP per capita (2010): 19 160 € (CEROM-INSEE)

Rate of growth (2009): - 6%

Active population (2009): agriculture 6%, industry 10.7%, construction 9.2%, services 74.1%

Unemployment rate (2010): 21.2% (CEROM-INSEE)

Rate of inflationn (2010): 1.6% (CEROM-INSEE)


Banana production represents a strong sector as regards exports (180 000 tons) as well as agro-industrial products, with Martinique rum obtaining an AOC appellation in 1996.
Saint-Pierre was the economic capital of Martinique before its destruction in 1902, following a volcanic eruption. A burning hot ash-cloud destroyed the town referred to as the 'Little Paris of the Antilles.' today, it is listed as the hundredth and one of France's towns of 'Art and History' for the ruins of the theatre, the dungeon of Cyparis, one of the survivors, the church of the Fort, and the Figuier quarter.

Cultural particularities

22 mai: commemoration of the abolition of slavery

February-March (meat days): carnivall

Traditional sports activities: round Martinique yawl race

Traditions: cock-fighting; music: bèlè, biguin, mazurka, zouk.

National dish: creole dishes: accras (fritted struffed with vegetables or cod), "féroce" of avocado, stuffed crabs; grilled fish, "Blaff" of fish, "z'habitants" soup; "Blanc-manger" coconut.

Drink: Ti'Punch: white rum, cane syrup, lime.

Aimé Césaire (1913–2008) poet, politician

Edouard Glissant (1928–2011), poet, writer
Patrick Chamoiseau, Goncourt prize, 1992.

Author: Yves-Marcelle Richer
Translation:  : Louis Shurmer-Smith