On this day in Caribbean history, November 3, 1978, Dominica gained it independence. Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans due chiefly to the fierce resistance of the native Caribs. The Caribs, who settled here in the 14th century, called the island Waitikubuli, which means ‘Tall is her Body.’ Christopher Columbus, with less poetic flair, named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it – a Sunday.
Daunted by fierce resistance from the Caribs and discouraged by the absence of gold, the Spanish took little interest in Dominica. France laid claim to the island in 1635 and wrestled with the British over it through the 18th century.
In 1967 Dominica gained autonomy in internal affairs as a West Indies Associated State, and on November 3, 1978, the 485th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery”, Dominica became an independent republic within the Commonwealth.
In July 1980 Dame Eugenia Charles was elected prime minister, the first woman in the Caribbean to hold the office. Within a year of her inauguration she survived two unsuccessful coups and in October 1983, as chairperson of the Organization of East Caribbean States, endorsed the US invasion of Grenada.