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Martinique and the Caribbean

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Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, having a total area of 1,128 km². It is an overseas département (département d'outre-mer, or DOM) of France. Like the other DOMs, Martinique is also one of the 26 régions of France (as a région d'outre-mer), and an integral part of the Republic. As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, the currency used is the euro. Its official language is French, although almost all of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais). Martinique is pictured on all euro banknotes, on the backside at the bottom of each note, right of the Greek ???O (EURO) next to the denomination.

Culture of Martinique

As an overseas départment of France, Martinique's culture is basically French with a Caribbean twist. Its former capital, Saint-Pierre (destroyed by a volcanic eruption), was often referred to as the Paris of the Lesser Antilles. Following French custom, many businesses close at midday, then reopen later in the afternoon. The official language is French, although many Martinicans speak a Creole patois. Based in French, Martinique's Creole also incorporates elements of English, Spanish, Portuguese, and African languages. Originally passed down through oral storytelling traditions, it continues to be used more often in speech than in writing.

Most of Martinique's population is descended from African slaves brought to work on sugar plantations during the colonial era. Today, the island enjoys a higher standard of living than most other Caribbean countries. The finest French products are easily available, from Chanel fashions to Limoges porcelain. Among young people, going to study in France is common. For the French, Martinique has been a vacation hotspot for many years, attracting both the upper class and more budget-conscious travelers. With all the interchange between the two regions, the people of Martinique are every bit as chic and sophisticated as their counterparts from the mainland.

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