Why is Roseau the capital of Dominica?

Why is Roseau the capital of Dominica?
Why is Roseau the capital of Dominica?

Unlike many of the other territories that are in the eastern Caribbean, Dominica is made up of just one island rather than a cluster or archipelago of islands. This makes jurisdiction and government a little easier. However, Dominica still has a complex history and is one of the independent nations in this island chain. But what is the capital of Dominica?

Dominica’s capital city is named Roseau, which is also its largest city. Roseau is known for its universities, modern and colonial architecture, and busy port for its trade in fruits, vegetables, and cocoa.

There are a huge number of islands to choose from in this part of the world, and each one is a little different. Read on for everything you need to know about Dominica and its capital, Roseau. 

Where is the Capital of Dominica Located?

Where is the Capital of Dominica Located?
Where is the Capital of Dominica Located?

The island of Dominica is located in the Caribbean Sea, in the lesser antilles islands. Its closest neighbors are  French territories. Guadeloupe lies to the north or Dominica, and you can sail to Martinique just south.

The Dominica capital is the town of Roseau, which you will find just in the southwest region. It is not centrally located like many capitals, because the interior of Dominica is largely mountainous. 

Unlike its neighbors, Dominica is only one island, rather than a series of islands making up one territory or region. 

One more thing–Are Dominica and Dominican Republic the same, you may ask? No! They aren’t too far away from each other, but the Dominican Republic is actually in the greater Antilles islands. People from both countries refer to themselves as Dominicans, however. 

Brief History of Roseau

Aerial view of Roseau city, Dominica.
Aerial view of Roseau city, Dominica.

Do you know what language is spoken in Dominica? English. The British colonized Dominica, winning out over France and developing the island as an English-speaking colony. But what country owns Dominica? Dominica is its own republic. It gained independence from Great Britain in 1978. It remains part of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

People also speak French and Creole, due to the fact that Dominica was also colonized by the French before the British. You can also see evidence of both English and French history in the town, with two different styles of architecture and city planning. 

However, the original people were the Arawak, who came from South America as early as the 5th century. The French colonized the island in the late 1600s, followed by the British taking control in 1763 as a result of the Seven Years War. The French would continue to try to regain control of the island, though it would remain technically British until independence. 

Roseau sits on the site of an ancient settlement named Sairi, and is the oldest and largest town on the island. 

The island of Dominica is especially affected by hurricanes, and has had to rebuild several times. The most recent hurricane was Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that hit in 2017 and caused almost a billion dollars of losses. 

When did Roseau become the Capital of Dominica?

Roseau Church, Dominica
Roseau Church, Dominica

Native people settled on the site of Roseau as long as 2,000 years ago. Europeans began to settle in the area in the 16th and 17th centuries. As it was the most important urban center, it remained an important port city and was a natural choice for a capital. 

Why is Roseau the capital of Dominica?

It was an important site because it is near the river and also a port city for trade. This made it a strategic location and the French and British fought over who would control the island of Dominica for many years.

Best Places to visit in Roseau

If you are an English speaker, Roseau and Dominica will be a natural choice. The surrounding French islands have lots of English-speaking tourist activities, but keep in mind their official language is French. 

Dominica is known for its interesting mix of architectural styles and amazing natural beauty. It is the most densely forested of the lesser antilles, so if you are looking for a beautiful volcanic retreat, this might be the way to go. 

Papillote Tropical Gardens

These botanic gardens will not disappoint! Packed with amazing flowering plants and tropical species, this site is a magical tropical oasis. You can also spot butterflies, wildlife, and a huge array of birds. Whether you are a horticulturist or not, you will be surprised at the huge variety of tropical plants. 

You can also soak in the hot volcanic pools while listening to the rainforest around you. An amazing experience!

Middleham Falls

You can take a hike to the falls and swim in the water. Be prepared to see a huge variety of native plants. It may be slippery when it is raining, so be prepared! You can do the hike alone or with a guide. 

Snorkel at Champagne Beach

If you like snorkeling, you need to check out Champagne Beach. You can rent snorkel equipment here, and you will see a variety of tropical fish and coral. In addition, you will be swimming in bubbles! The beach is rocky and better suited to snorkeling than sunbathing. 

Mero Beach

If you want to sit at the beach, check out the black sand at Mero. It isn’t usually as busy as Champagne Beach, and is a frequent spot for friendly locals. 

Old Market Square

If you want to do a little shopping or see the culture of the town, check out Old Market Square. You can see vegetables and other vendors in the old cobblestone square. Check out the Dominica museum nearby for some information about the amazing history of the island, or just shop for some souvenirs. Have you ever had Cassava bread? You can try it at Old Market Square. 


Dominica has come to be known as the “Nature Island of the Caribbean” due to its breathtaking natural beauty. It is also a volcanic island, home to the second-largest hot spring in the world, appropriately named “Boiling Lake.”

But if you go to Dominica, don’t go for the waterfalls and rare forest alone, check out the historical town of Roseau for information about the amazing history of the area. 

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!