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Originally, Martinique was populated by Arowak Indians who lived there for more than 2000 years. Then the Carib Indians invaded, who exterminated the Arowaks.

Columbus discovered Martinique on 15 June 1502. In 1635, French colonists landed on the island. They exterminated the Carib, founded the first town (Saint-Pierre), and introduced the cultivation of sugar cane. As a result of wars and treaties, Martinique passed from French to British hands several times. From 1816 it belonged definitively to France.

A terrible eruption of Mont Pelée on 8 May 1902 engulfed the then capital Saint-Pierre and killed almost all but two of the city's inhabitants and the surrounding area - some 30,000 people.

On 19 March 1946, Martinique became an overseas department of France.

See also History of France.


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CIA - World Factbook

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Last updated June 2024
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