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The sovereign nation of Dominica, not to be confused with Dominica or the Dominican Republic, is officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, and it is a sovereign country. It is part of the Windward Islands at the center of the Lesser Antilles. Roseau is the capital, and it is situated on the leeward side of the island.

The local economy is based on tourism and agriculture, with smaller industries such as soap making shoes, and and furniture. Additionally, Ross University, situated in Portsmouth, has more than a thousand foreign students, primarily from Canada and the United States.

It is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles, and it is still being formed by volcanic activity.

Boiling Lake, which is the second largest hot spring in the world, is a direct product of that geothermal activity. Boiling Lake, which is about six miles from Roseau, is a flooded fumarole. A fumarole is an opening in the earth's crust which sends out steam and gasses, and, in this case, heats the water in the hot spring. Boiling Lake is filled with blue-grey, bubbling water which, in the center of the spring, is indeed boiling.

The name of Dominica is a derivative of the Latin word for Sunday, and it was named by Christopher Columbus on the day he passed it, which was a Sunday. It was, in fact, Sunday, November 3, 1493.

In 1627, the English claimed Dominica, but they made no attempt to settle it or to guard it in any way. In 1632 it had become a French colony because the French has and it mostly remained a French colony until 1759 at which time it was captured by the English.

In 1660, both England and France had agreed that they would leave the islands in the Caribbean to the indigenous Caribs and the island would be neutral territory. But the forests were so lush that expeditions from both France and England sent expeditions to gather timber.

In 1690, France established a permanent settlement. Woodcutters from nearby Guadeloupe and Martinique set up timber camps in order to facilitate the supply of wood to the French islands. It was these woodcutters who brought the first slaves from West Africa to the island of Dominica.

The country went back and forth between France and England, with France taking control in 1778, then England taking control in 1783. The French attempted to invade Dominica, first in 1795 and again in 1805. The invasions failed, and the island remained under the control of England.

In 1833, Dominica was linked to Antigua and the rest of the Leeward Islands with the governor-general of Antigua presiding over the island. It then became a member of the Federation of the Leeward Islands Administration.

It left the Federation in 1939 and became a unit in the British Windward Islands in 1940, until 1958 when it became a province in the West Indies Federation until 1962, when the Federation was dissolved due to numerous points of disagreement among the member countries.

Independence came to the island nation on November 3, 1978. Patrick John, who had been the premier before independence and who had led the country to independence, was the first prime minister. Two years later, at election time, John lost the seat to the first woman prime minister in the region, Eugenia Charles.

During that decade, there were two attempted coups, the first being by a paramilitary group known secretly as Operation Red Dog. This group planned to overthrow the Dominican government and restore ex-Prime Minister Patrick John to his former position. The group was made up of an assortment of American and Canadian white supremacists including former Grand Wizard of the Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan James Alexander McQuirter, and Don Black, an American who was an American Nazi and who would go on to found Stormfront, a white supremacist website.

Their plan was to take over the island country and create an Aryan haven, making their money via casinos, brothels, and drugs. Someone tipped off the FBI, and On April 27, 1981, ten of the conspirators were arrested in Louisiana before their boat could shove off. All in all, more than 20 people were arrested, including John.

In December of 1981, a second coup was attempted, this time by members of the disbanded Dominica Defence Force. This time the plan was to get John out of jail in Roseau. Twelve gunmen stormed the police headquarters in order to get more guns, and then go to the attached jail to release Patrick John from his cell.

The first part of the plan was unsuccessful. The attempt left three people dead and nine wounded.The ex-commander of the Defence Force was arrested. In 1985, former Prime Minister Patrick John was convicted of being involved in one of the coups. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. In 1985, the commander of the country's Defence Force was tried, convicted, and hanged for the murder of a policeman during the second attempt.



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