Geography of Dominica

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Dominica is an island in the Caribbean Sea, located about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe (to the north) and Martinique (to the south). Its coordinates are 15 25 N, 61 20 W. It is known as "The Nature Island of the Caribbean" due to its spectacular, lush, and varied flora and fauna, which is protected by an extensive natural park system. It is the fourth largest largest island in the Caribbean with a population of people mainly from African descent.

The lowest point in the country is at sea level along the coast, and the highest is Morne Diablotins (1,447 m/4,747 ft). The extreme southwestern coast of the island includes a large collapsed submarine caldera. Portions of the exposed rim of this caldera form the southwestern tip of the island at Scott's Head. Natural resources include farming, hydropower and timber.

Geographically, Dominica is distinctive in many ways. The country has one of the most rugged landscapes in the Caribbean, covered by a largely unexploited, multi-layered rain forest. It is also among the Earth's most rain-drenched lands, and the water runoff forms cascading rivers and natural pools. The island, home to rare species of wildlife, is considered by many as a beautiful, unspoiled tropical preserve. According to a popular West Indian belief, Dominica is the only New World territory that Columbus would still recognize.

Dominica is the largest and most northerly of the Windward Islands. The island faces the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west. Its nearest neighbors are the French islands of Guadeloupe, some 48 kilometers (30 mi) north, and Martinique, about 40 kilometers (25 mi) south. Oblong-shaped and slightly smaller than New York City, Dominica is 750 square kilometers (290 sq mi) in area, 47 kilometers (29 mi) in length, and 29 kilometers (18 mi) in width. Roseau, the nation's capital and major port, is favorably situated on the sheltered, southwestern coast.

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Climate

The island's climate is tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds and heavy rainfall.

Dominica has a tropical wet climate with characteristically warm temperatures and heavy rainfall. Excessive heat and humidity are tempered somewhat by a steady flow of the northeast trade winds, which periodically develop into hurricanes. The steep interior slopes also alter temperatures and winds. Temperature ranges are slight. Average daytime temperatures generally vary from 26 °C (78.8 °F) in January to 32 °C (89.6 °F) in June. Diurnal ranges are usually no greater than 3 °C (5.4 °F) in most places, but temperatures dipping to 13 °C (55.4 °F) on the highest peaks are not uncommon.

Most of the island's ample supply of water is brought by the trade winds. Although amounts vary with the location, rain is possible throughout the year, with the greatest monthly totals recorded from June through October. Average yearly rainfall along the windward east coast frequently exceeds 5,000 mm (196.9 in), and exposed mountainsides receive up to 9,000 mm (354.3 in), among the highest accumulations in the world. Totals on the leeward west coast, however, are only about 1,800 mm (70.9 in) per year. Humidities are closely tied to rainfall patterns, with the highest values occurring on windward slopes and the lowest in sheltered areas. Relative humidity readings between 70 percent and 90 percent have been recorded in Roseau.

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