Tiny island nation in the Windward Island s of the West Indies, N of Martinique and S of Guadeloupe. Columbus discovered it on a Sunday in 1493 and named it after the Latin, dies dominica, the Lord’s Day. In the first half of the 18th century both the English and the French tried to settle Dominica but were fought off by the fierce Carib Indians. An Anglo- French treaty of 1748 left the island to the Indians, but both nations still wanted it. Later the island changed hand s several times between the two nations until 1815, when it finally became British. Beginning in 1833 Dominica was administered along with the Leeward Island s, and in 1940 administration was transferred to the Windward Island s. The island was a member of the short-lived Federation of the West Indies from 1958 to 1962, was granted internal self-government in 1967, and became independent in 1978. In 1980 Eugenia Charles was elected prime minister. In 1981 there were two failed coup attempts. In 1995 Charles retired as prime minister, and Edison James of the opposition United Workers’ Party was elected. In 2000 Rosie Douglas of the Labor Party defeated James, but died shortly afterward, to be succeeded by Pierre Charles. Charles died in 2003, and was succeeded by Roosevelt Skerrit. Of volcanic origin, Dominica has fertile soil that produces many fruits and vegetables. The majority of the people are descendants of black African slaves transported here in the 18th century. Roseau is the capital and chief port.