The Arawak arrived from South America in the fifth century and settled the island. By the 15th century, the Arawak were overrun by the Kalinago. It is believed that Columbus passed the island on November 3, 1493. From the 1690s to 1763, it was colonized by Europeans, primarily by the French. To work on coffee plantations, the French brought enslaved people from West Africa to Dominica. After the Seven Years' War, Great Britain took control in 1763 and gradually made English its official language. In 1978, the island declared its independence as a republic.
Due to the state of its natural environment, Dominica has earned the moniker "Nature Island of the Caribbean." The world's second-largest hot spring, Boiling Lake, is evidence that it is still being formed by geothermal and volcanic activity, making it the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles. Numerous uncommon plants, animals, and bird species call the island's mountainous rainforests home. Some of the western coastal areas have xeric areas, but heavy rain falls inland. Dominica's national bird is the Sisserou parrot, also known as the Imperial amazon, which can only be found on the island. It is one of only two sovereign nations whose official flag features the color purple. The nation is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Organization of American States, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States.