A mountainous and densely-populated overseas department of France, the Caribbean island of Martinique has a French and Creole heritage.
Tourism flourishes and it is the birthplace of the African-French music form "the Beguine".
Despite a reliance on aid from Paris, Martinique has one of the higher standards of living in the region. Serious protests at rising prices and persistent unemployment flared in 2009 on Martinique and other French Caribbean islands, prompting France to negotiate more aid and the promise of constitutional reform.
Visited by the explorer Christopher Columbus and briefly occupied by the Spanish, Martinique was settled by the French in 1635. Other colonial powers vied for control of the sugar-producing island and it came under brief periods of English rule in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Head of state: President of France
Martinique is governed as an overseas department of France; Paris is represented by an appointed prefect. The territory has an elected legislative council and is represented in the National Assembly and Senate in Paris.
Martinique's TV and radio services are provided by the French public overseas broadcaster, RFO, and by private operators.