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Country Reports

Dominica Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Typically speaking, the vast majority of trips to the tiny island of Dominica (population 74,000) occur without major incident. However, the island was devastated by the September 2017 passage of Hurricane Maria and recovery efforts are expected to last for months if not years.

NATURAL RISKS

Like many Caribbean nations, Dominica is exposed to tropical storms and hurricanes. The official hurricane season extends from June 1 to November 30, with a peak of storms typically observed in August and September.  

Hurricane Maria caused widespread destruction and dozens of deaths when it passed over Dominica as a category 5 storm (on a scale of 1 to 5) in September 2017. Approximately 90 percent of structures on the island were damaged or destroyed in the storm. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit declared a national state of emergency after the storm hit and implemented a daily curfew from 16:00 to 08:00 (local time), which will remain in place until conditions stabilize. Power outages, water cuts, telecommunication issues, transportation disruptions, and shortages of basic goods could last for months in some areas, as recovery efforts drag on.

In late August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika hit the island nation, killing 34 people and inflicting major damage on housing and infrastructure.

Additionally, the island, and the eastern Caribbean region more generally, is located in a seismic zone.

HEALTH

Visitors should be aware that the quality of services available at medical facilities in Dominica is poor, and that Hurricane Maria severely damaged a number of medical centers. A medical evacuation may prove necessary in the case of a serious health issue. All visitors are advised to subscribe to a travel medical insurance that covers emergency evacuations.

Tap water is normally safe to drink in Dominica but due to infrastructural damage and flooding caused by Hurricane Maria, only bottled or disinfected water should be drunk until further notice. It is also advisable to avoid consuming foods that cannot be thoroughly cooked or disinfected (e.g. lettuce, berries, ice cream, etc.).

A number of mosquito-borne diseases are present, including dengue fever and chikungunya. The Zika virus may also be present. The risk of contracting such diseases could increase sharply in the weeks and months following the passage of Hurricane Maria as standing water from heavy rainfall and flooding can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Epizootic rabies is present in bats. If you are bitten, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Keep in mind that bat bites can go unnoticed when asleep, so seek medical attention if a bat is discovered in a bedroom.

SOCIOPOLITICAL CONTEXT

Presidential elections will be held in October 2018, followed by legislative elections in 2019.

Generally speaking, the political climate is stable. Street protests are relatively rare, although several demonstrations have occurred in the capital Roseau since February 2017.

CRIME

During normal times the country is relatively safe, but incidents of opportunistic crime are reported and visitors should take basic common-sense precautions.

Reports of looting and other lawlessness have been reported since the passage of Hurricane Maria and an overnight curfew remains in effect (see NATURAL RISKS).

Rates of petty crime tend to rise during Carnival festivities (January/February), during the World Creole Music Festival (October), and during the Christmas/New Year period.

TRANSPORTATION

Secondary and minor roads are often in poor condition. Drivers should be particularly cautious at night and outside of tourist areas. 

For security reasons, only use licensed taxis; note that taxis are not metered so the fare should be agreed upon in advance.

To drive in Dominica (on the left-hand side of the road in this former British colony), foreigners must obtain a temporary local license. Visitors should contact their rental agency for more information.

LEGAL

LGBT travelers should note that homosexual "activity" is technically illegal, and punishable with fines and prison sentences. They may also face harassment from locals.

Climate

Temperatures are pleasant throughout the year. The rainy season lasts from August to September and during this time large amounts of rain fall on the country. Except during the dry season (January-May), light showers are often observed. Hurricanes sometimes pass over Dominica during the month of September and have been known to cause significant damages throughout the island.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +1 767 Police: 448 22 22 Fire Dept., Ambulance: (767) 448 28 90 or (767) 448 88 90

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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