When Christopher Columbus sighted Dominica on 3 Nov. 1493 it was occupied by Carib Indians, who are thought to have overrun the previous inhabitants, the Arawak, from around 1300. Dominica remained a ‘Carib Isle’ until the 1630s, when French farmers and missionaries established sugar plantations. Control was contested between the British and French until it was awarded to the British by the Treaty of Versailles in 1783. In March 1967 Dominica became a self-governing state within the West Indies Associated States, with Britain retaining control of external relations and defence. The island became an independent republic, the Commonwealth of Dominica, on 3 Nov. 1978.
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