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The 1981 census recorded a population of 73,795, a 6-percent increase over the figure registered in 1970. Mid-1985 estimates placed the total at 77,400. Crude birth rates per 1,000 population increased from 22 in 1980 to 24.3 in 1983 but decreased to 21.3 in 1984. Crude death rates per 1,000 population increased slightly from 4.7 in 1980 to 5.5 in 1983 and 1984. The rate of natural increase, which was a low 1.3 percent in 1980 following a large out-migration after Hurricane David, showed a slight increase to 1.8 percent in 1981 and 1982, 1.9 percent in 1983, and 1.6 percent in 1984. The migration rate per 1,000 population fluctuated from a net increase of 5.5 in 1980, to 25.7 in 1982, a negative 13.3 in 1983, and a net increase of 5.9 in 1984. Life expectancy at birth was 76.7 years in 1984.
Comparisons between the 1970 and 1981 censuses suggested an increasingly older Dominican population. Islanders under age 15 declined from 49 to 40 percent; by contrast, the 15- to 64-year age group increased from 45 to 53 percent. Those 65 years of age and over increased from 6 to 7 percent. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) projected that these trends would continue through at least the early 1990s.
Settlement patterns in Dominica have been affected by the island's physical features. In the 1980s, the population was dispersed into fifty or more villages, towns, and hamlets, most of them along the coast. Despite this general pattern, almost 36 percent of the population in 1981 resided in the parish of St. George, where the capital city of Roseau is located.
Descendants of African slaves comprised the overwhelming majority of the population. Aside from Caribs, an estimated 3 percent of the population, there were no other significant ethnic clusters. The ethnic, racial, and cultural composition of the society in the 1980s reflected Carib, French, British, and African influences. This diverse historical legacy was expressed in many ways. It could be seen in Carib art; Roman Catholicism and the French language; British law, politics, education, language, and trade links; and a predominantly black population, work force, electorate, and leadership.
In the 1981 census, approximately 92 percent of the population identified itself as Christian. Of this group, Roman Catholics comprised 83 percent; Methodists, 5.3 percent; Seventh Day Adventists, 3.5 percent; Pentecostals, 3.2 percent; Baptists, 2.6 percent; Anglicans, 0.9 percent; members of the Church of God, 0.8 percent, and Jehovah's Witnesses, 0.7 percent. The remaining 8 percent of the population was divided between those who adhered to a variety of minor denominations and those who claimed no religion. The Christian make-up of the island was not surprising given the history of colonization first by France and later Britain. Both countries were as intent on converting the Caribs and African slaves to Christianity as they were on conquering the island for their respective monarchs.
For more recent population estimates, see Facts about Dominica.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress