Martinique is one of the Windward Islands. Other islands in the group include Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Martinique, the largest of the Windward Islands, is the only French island in the group.
The highest point on the island of Martinique is Mount Pelee (1,397 m).
Mount Pelee is a volcano (stratovolcano) which last erupted in May 1902.
The eruption of Mount Pelee destroyed the town of Saint Pierre killing thirty thousand of its inhabitants.
Early inhabitants of Martinique were Arawak and Carib people from South America.
The island was called Madinina (Island of Flowers) by the Caribs.
Christopher Columbus sighted Martinique in 1493 and visited the island in 1502.
French settlers arrived in Martinique in 1635; the island was claimed by France.
Slaves were introduced to the French West Indies in 1636.
In the mid seventeenth century sugarcane replaced tobacco as the main crop in Martinique.
Martinique was officially annexed by France in 1674.
The French colony of Guadeloupe became a dependency of Martinique. In 1775 it was decided to administer Guadeloupe and Martinique separately.
Martinique came under brief periods of English rule in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.
Apart from the brief occupations by the British, Martinique remained a French possession.
Victor Schoelcher, the French abolitionist, contributed to the end of slavery in the French colonies in 1848.
Napoleon's Empress, Josephine (1763-1814), was born at La Pagerie in Martinique.
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), the French artist, visited Martinique. Famous works painted on the island include Two Women of Martinique.
Martinique is famous for African-French music known as beguine. Beguine was immortalized by Cole Porter in his song Begin the Beguine.
Martinique became a Department of France in 1946. The further status of Region was granted in 1974.
A strong earthquake (7.4 magnitude) struck off the north-west coast of Martinique in November 2007. No major damage was caused.