Martinique, or Martinico
Martinique, Or Martinico called by the natives Madiana, one of the Lesser Antilles, lying between latitude 14° 23' 43' and 14° 52' 47" north, and longitude 60° 50' and 61° 19' west, is forty miles long, about twelve miles broad, and has an area of about 380 square miles, and 160,831 inhabitants, of whom upwards of 87,000 are black. The island was discovered by the Spaniards in 1493, colonized by the French in 1635, and now belongs to them. It is of an oval form, with much indented coasts, and is everywhere mountainous; the highest peak, Mount Pelee, being considerably more than 4000 feet above the sea-level. There are six extinct volcanoes on the island, one of them with an enormous crater. The cultivated portion (about one third of the whole of Martinique) lies chiefly along the coast. The climate is moist, but, except during the rainy season, is not unhealthy, and the soil is very productive. Of the land in cultivation, about three fifths are occupied with sugarcane.
The government of the island consists of a governor, a privy council of seven, a and a colonial council of thirty members. Slavery was abolished in 1848. The island is liable to dreadful hurricanes. The capital is Fort Royal, but St. Pierre (q.v.) is the largest town and the seat of commerce. The average annual fall of rain is eighty-four inches. The year is divided into two seasons; one commences about Oct. 15, and lasts some nine months, and the other, or rainy season, lasts the remainder of the year. During the short season the yellow-fever prevails largely. The inhabitants of the Martinique Islands are usually adherents of the Church of Rome.