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Area: 1080 sq km (421 sq mi)
Population: 414,516 (growth rate 1%)
Capital city: Fort-de-France (pop 100,072)
Language: French, French Creole patois, some English
Martinique Martinique Martinique Martinique Martinique
Martinique is a tiny island located in the eastern Caribbean. It's bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the south and west and the Atlantic Ocean to the north and east. The island of Dominica is Martinique's neighbor to the north; St Lucia is to the south.
Martinique has lots of colorful flowering plants, with the type of vegetation varying with altitude and rainfall. Rainforests cover the slopes of the mountains in the northern interior, which are luxuriant with tree ferns, bamboo groves, climbing vines and hardwood trees like mahogany, rosewood, locust and gommier.
Martinique is warm year-round, with temperatures usually peaking close to 30°C (around 85°F) during the day. Humidity is highest in September and lowest in April. The best time to go to Martinique is the slightly cooler, drier season of late winter to early spring (February to May). Note that this is also the peak tourist season and prices will be highest and attractions and lodgings most crowded.

Although it's the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the French West Indies, much of Fort-de-France's charm lies in its natural setting on the edge of the Baie des Flamands, framed by the Pitons du Carbet rising to the north. The city's mix of narrow bustling streets, parks, offices and turn-of-the-century buildings housing boutiques and cafes gives it a flavor owing as much to the sidestreets of Paris as it does to that of the Caribbean.The city's focus is the Savane, a large park with fountains, tall palms and occasional open-air concerts.

Les Salines
If you want to hit the beach, head for the undeveloped southern tip of the island and lay down your towel at Les Salines, widely regarded as Martinique's finest strand. The arid climate here means that Les Salines is often sunny when other parts of the island are not. The beach attracts scores of visitors on weekends and holidays, but it's big enough to accommodate everyone without feeling crowded.

Once the 'Little Paris of the West Indies' and the capital of Martinique, Saint-Pierre soldiers on in the shadow of its cosmopolitan past and the nearby volcano that destroyed it nearly a century ago. Despite this disaster, Martinicans began rebuilding the city soon after the eruption, and much of Saint-Pierre, with its wrought-iron balconies and shuttered doors. If that isn't enough wreckage for you, stroll a short way to the ruins of the old theater, where you can mount the twin staircase and view what's left of the lower story.Anse Turin, a long gray-sand beach just south of Saint-Pierre

Route de la Trace
The Route de la Trace follows a trail blazed by 17th-century Jesuits into the mountains north of Fort-de-France. It winds through a rainforest of tall tree ferns, anthurium-covered hillsides and clumps of bamboo, and along the eastern flanks of the volcanic mountain peaks of the Pitons du Carbet. Islanders like to say that the Jesuits' fondness for rum accounts for the road's many zigs and zags. The view from this domed Roman-Byzantine church looks out across Fort-de-France to the Pointe du Bout resort area. A further 10-minute drive takes you to the Jardin de Balata, a botanical garden in a rainforest setting laced with paths winding past tropical trees and flowers, including lots of ginger, heliconia, anthuriums and bromeliads.

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