Martinique

Set in the heart of the Caribbean archipelago, Martinique is a fascinating island reputed for its flowers and its 180 different sand colors. It is part of the Lesser Antilles and has the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west. Martinique is a fusion of cultures with its Creole, African, French and Indian influences. This little corner of France should not be missed at any cost.

Basic Fact Sheet:

• Flight Only Price: Depending on periods, 450 € for low-peak seasons, about 800 € for high-peak seasons.

• Requirements: Any French citizen in possession of a national identity card or a valid passport can stay in Martinique. For tourist stays of less than 3 months, European Union tourists, Americans, Canadians, Swiss or Norwegians have to present a valid passport.

• Flight Time: 8 hours from Paris.

• Time Difference:  GMT – 4 (- 5 hours in winter and – 6 hours in summer).

• Language: French is the official language.

• Religion: Mainly Christians; other communities: Jews, Muslims, Adventists, Baptists and Jehovah’s witnesses.

• Currency: Euro

• Health and Safety: No vaccination required.

The exportation of plants is forbidden except for flowers bought in authorized shops.

• Area: 1130 km²

• Population: 399 000 inhabitants.

History

Upon his fourth visit in the New World, Christopher Columbus came across Martinique in 1502. During that time, the island is inhabited by the Carib Indians who had chased away the Arawaks. They called the place ‘Madinina’, Island of flowers. This period was stamped by slavery.

Martinique shares a common destiny with France since 1635. It is a French department since 1946, with a similar political and administrative structure to that of other metropolitan departments.

Fort-de-France is the police headquarters as well as the administrative and commercial centers. The island also has 3 districts: Trinité, Saint-Pierre and Le Marin.

Culture

Luc Olivier for the Martinique Tourist Board

The architecture of the island is the proof of a past filled with history. During your stay on the island, you will discover the warmth, the creativity and the hospitability of the inhabitants, who will gladly share the joy and the atmosphere of their traditional celebrations with visitors.

The ‘Rhum Agricole’ is reputed for being the best rum is the world, namely for its ‘Rhum Vieux’, a rum left to age in old oak casks. Made from pure sugarcane juice, these rums, white, golden or dark, give way to subtle aromas and express rich flavors worthy of the most famous spirits.

The literature of Martinique has been marked by big names, freethinkers and writers, such as Edouard Glissant, Patrick Chamoiseau and Aimé Césaire. The island’s enchanting music to the sounds of the Biguine, the Mazouk, the Creol Waltz, the square dance or the traditional zouk delight every tourist’s curiosity.

The tour of Martinique in skiffs is a very important sporting event that the inhabitants hold at heart. It takes place every year around the end of July and the beginning of August.

Geography & Climate

Martinique is situated at the centre of the Caribbean archipelago, at about 7000 km from France. The island is dominated by Mount Pelée, towering at 1397 meters; in terms of area, it only comes in second place behind Guadeloupe.  The place boasts of a variety of magnificent sceneries; there are steep mountains, tropical forests or green hills, cliffs carved by the sea and tranquil beaches.

The south is quite dry and not very elevated. The vegetation is not abundant but you will find superb beaches, bays and coves there. It is the more touristic region. Sugarcane fields take up a part of the lands. The north is much more mountainous. The west, with its beaches of volcanic sand and is under the influence of the Caribbean Sea whereas the east is subject to the onslaught of the Atlantic Ocean. Few beaches are thus accessible to swimmers. Banana and pineapple plantations grow all over the place. The north-central part is dominated by Mount Pelée and the Pitons du Carbet, the two volcanic ranges of the island. The forests, rivers and waterfalls make for beautiful promenades. Rainfalls are more frequent in this region than in the south and the result is an extremely rich vegetation.

The temperature is pleasant all year round cooled down by trade winds; the outside temperature fluctuates between 23°C (in winter) and 32°C (in summer) while for swimmers, the sea has temperatures between 25°C and 28°C. Cooler temperatures can be felt in the mountains.

There are two seasons: the dry season referred to as Carême (Lent); from February to June there are scattered showers namely on mountains and an odd winter with temperatures around 27°C; the wet season is from July to January. There are more abundant showers and higher risks of cyclones around September.

http://www.martiniquetourisme.com/

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